Michael Saunders and Co. Foundation

OVERVIEW: This corporate real estate funder supports basic needs services in the Florida counties of Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte. Company employees nominate potential grantees.

FUNDING AREAS: Shelter, sustenance, education, paths to self-sufficiency, veterans

IP TAKE: Here’s a funder that keeps its funds local. It supports local chapters of national organizations, though, and often sticks with the same grantees for multiple years.

PROFILE: The Michael Saunders and Co. (MSC) Foundation is the grantmaking arm of one of the largest real estate brokerage firms in the country. The Michael Saunders and Co. company has a couple of dozen offices and around 600 agents serving the Southwest Gulf Coast of Florida. The company was founded in 1976.

The MSC Foundation focuses on the Florida counties of Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte. Support isn’t huge but is very locally focused.

This funder concentrates on basic needs in the area and provides direct services grants. Shelter, sustenance, education, and paths to self-sufficiency are priorities. It is a steady supporter of veterans’ causes, too. Past grantees include the American Red Cross of Southwest Florida, Bethany Christian Services of Florida, Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County, and Englewood Meals on Wheels. A long list of supported organizations can be found on its website.

The MSC Foundation has collaborated with other funders, such as its partnership with the Wells Fargo Foundation: the pair teamed to support the Friendship Centers, a nonprofit that serves older adults in Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto, Lee, and Collier Counties.

The real estate company and its foundation are very interested in employee engagement: it encourages realtors to make a personal connection to local nonprofits. To start the grantmaking process, employees nominate potential grantees for consideration. Agents voluntarily donate some of their real estate commissions, and staff members voluntarily contribute to the foundation throughout the year. Employees also commit hundreds of volunteer hours each year to nonprofits. Their ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life along the Gulf Coast.

Grants are typically awarded in two annual cycles—winter and summer. Past cycles have sent out $40,000 to $60,000. The funder gives out about 50 grants per grant cycle to local groups. Since 2011, the funder has supported around 150 groups with over $457,000 in total.  

Although this foundation does not appear to accept unsolicited grant requests, you can send questions via online form. Ms. Michael Saunders is the company founder and CEO, and Drayton Saunders is the company president.

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