E. Tyler Cathey and Jess Joaquin Johnson are godparents to each other's children, know which sports teams the other supports and which organizations the other belongs to. Oddly, though, the two young professionals had never spoken of their philanthropic giving.
But when Cathey, a 34-year-old attorney in Tampa, and Johnson, a 31-year-old real estate consultant in Tampa, were invited to a conference geared toward making Florida a better place, they jointly realized that an obligation to give was something they had in common.
So at a forum sponsored by the Florida Next Foundation in July, Cathey and Johnson pitched the idea of creating a "culture of philanthropy" to 150 Tampa Bay entrepreneurs and business leaders. Their hook: Out of 366 major metropolitan areas, Tampa Bay ranked 250th for philanthropic giving in 2012. It's a statistic Johnson deemed "stunning."
"It's less about the dollars, it's more about giving something," he said. "It's about being involved. It's about having skin in the game."
In the crowd was Community Foundation of Tampa Bay's CEO Marlene Spalten. Cathey and Johnson's idea coincided with the foundation's plans to start a local day of giving.
A partnership was formed between the Florida Next Foundation and the Community Foundation to streamline the process of philanthropic giving and target a new generation of givers: 20- to 40-year-olds.
And so, Give Day Tampa Bay, the area's first day of giving, was born.
On May 6, the Community Foundation's website, givedaytampabay.org, will be accepting donations to more than 200 registered nonprofits in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties for 24 hours beginning at midnight.
In 2012, Give Miami Day raised $1 million. Around the country, other cities and chapters hold their own day of giving.
While the Community Foundation is charged with handling the money, the Florida Next Foundation will manage the volunteers and increase awareness of philanthropic giving through its partnerships, said Jocelyn Carpenter, the Community Foundation's stewardship specialist and co-director of Give Day.
Donors can make a minimum $25 donation online or on the foundation's mobile app.
"This is creating that one-stop shop for people to find their passion," said Ned Pope, Florida Next Foundation president and co-director of Give Day.
The Museum of Science and Industry, Tampa General Hospital Foundation and Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay are already registered with the site.
Funds donated to MOSI will go toward its summer camp scholarship program. With Give Day's help, they hope to reach a goal of sponsoring 400 children, 10 times their scholarship enrollment last year.
"You don't have to be Warren Buffett to be a philanthropist," said Molly Demeulenaere, the museum's vice president of growth and development.
Colleen Wright can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8913. Follow her on Twitter @Colleen_Wright.