Florida’s Wealth Boom Yields a Windfall for the State’s Charities

Florida’s Wealth Boom Yields a Windfall for the State’s Charities

In Chicago, the financial magnate donated $125 million in 2019 to help modernize the Museum of Science and Industry. In New York, he threw in $40 million for a new wing at the Museum of Natural History. Now the billionaire founder of the Citadel financial empire is using his fortune to make a mark in Florida, where he moved from Chicago in 2022. His gifts are the highest-profile example of how recently transplanted financial professionals are forging a new era of philanthropy across the Sunshine State. From Tampa to Miami and Sarasota to Boca Raton, affluent young people and families rooted in Wall Street careers have helped drive a boom in giving.

One beneficiary has been the Cox Science Center and Aquarium in West Palm Beach. Before finance professionals began flocking to the region, the biggest gift it ever received was $900,000. Then in 2021, it set out to raise funds for a new building that’s expected to cost $105 million. Griffin gave $8 million. The center has another $35 million left to raise, including $10 million to create

The Miami Foundation’s recent ‘Give Miami Day,’ an annual single-day fundraising sprint for local charities, offers more evidence of how a new donor class is stepping up. The online campaign raised $34 million this year, more than double the $14 million it brought in 2019. The number of donors giving $100,000 or more surged to 36 from eight in 2020.

“I joke that if you wanted to be a founding father in New York, you’d need a time machine and possibly another zero or two at the end of your net worth,” said Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, the Miami Foundation’s chief executive officer. “But if you want to be a founder in Miami you just need to pull up a chair, because it’s happening right now.”

Florida’s community foundations, which house and distribute donor funds to support local nonprofits, have seen their holdings soar. The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties says its total assets have jumped 62% over the past decade to $245 million. Broward County has seen a more than six-fold increase. And in Sarasota County, assets have more than doubled since 2011.