We spoke with Scott Rogers, Grants Committee Chair and Site Visitor Team Captain, about his experiences with Lost Tree Foundation.
Tell us about your involvement with Lost Tree Foundation.
I’ve been involved with the Foundation for the past eight years. Like most people, my first real connection began with a site visit. I joined a team where Janet Lewis was my Team Captain and she was an outstanding mentor to many of us. After a few years, I co-captained my own team with Jill Rappaport and we had the privilege of visiting dozens of local nonprofits and evaluating them for Foundation funding. I became Chair of the Grants Committee in 2020 but it really was those early site visits that helped cement my strong association with the Foundation’s work.
Have you noticed changes over the years?
It’s been gratifying to watch the Foundation continue to mature as a truly impressive professional organization. Our mission has remained consistent since our inception: Working together to strengthen our surrounding communities by significantly improving the lives of our neighbors in need. As a Foundation, we have higher expectations for ourselves every year. What we do is both rewarding and fun; many people have forged lasting friendships through their work together on site visits. We’ve played an integral role in supporting some of the finest agencies in Palm Beach County since their inception. We can be very proud of that.
What is a site visit and how does it work?
Site visits are at the core of the Foundation’s work. A group of 6 to 8 residents under a Team Captain visit a series of assigned agencies who have applied for Foundation funding. Each site visitor has a voice in the process and plays a crucial role in deciding whether or not we will fund an agency’s work. It’s a very special and unique aspect of life here at Lost Tree Village. 75% of residents give financially to the Foundation each year and over 100 volunteers serve as site visitors, bringing their expertise and past experience to help analyze grant requests from local agencies. It’s a privilege.
What do you look for in a grantee?
Lost Tree Foundation primarily funds capital projects in four focus areas: hunger, homelessness, health and education. As capital funders, we really fill a much-needed niche in Palm Beach County as many funders will only consider programmatic projects. We are, in fact, one of the top capital funders in the County. We award approximately $3.5 million from our Annual Giving Fund each year to local nonprofits who work in those strategic areas. We’re looking for agencies, large and small, that are using our money to really leverage their impact. We identify agencies that can take our dollars and scale their work to help as many people as possible. Often, the Executive Directors of these nonprofits are inspiring individuals and I’ve had the pleasure of watching many of them grow in their roles and witnessed the passion they have for their missions.
What benefits do you think you receive from the program?
When I first moved here, like anyone else new to an area, I didn’t have any understanding of the local needs. But many in Lost Tree Village have an innate philanthropic spirit. Giving plays a true and meaningful part in their lives and they want to get involved in their new community, but they also want to make sure the agencies they support are reputable and effective. The Foundation is a responsible and professional steward in this regard. It carefully evaluates the projects it supports and demands transparency and accountability from its grantees. That structure gives me confidence as a donor and supporter that my contribution is doing the greatest amount of good and is being used as I intended.
What would you say to those who haven’t engaged with the Foundation before but might like to start?
Try a site visit! Don’t feel you’ll be overly obligated either. You can join us as a guest to a single site visit, if you like, to see if it’s a good experience and the right fit for you. Every site visit is a consulting opportunity for the grantees; we have such a depth of knowledge and expertise in the Village that we can be a resource by simply asking the right questions. In return, the reward to us, as site visitors, is wonderful. It’s gratifying to make a difference where it counts and help ensure our gifts are used to support people in need living in nearby communities.