South Sound Partners for Philanthropy celebrates giving

The word philanthropy can bring to mind a level of generosity only available to the super-rich. But it is so much more than that. South Sound Partners for Philanthropy (SSPFP) was formed in 2000 with a one simple idea. As their mission states, “The goal of the group is to work collaboratively to increase the awareness of local needs and the vital role that giving locally plays in the success and health of our community.”

In a recent televised interview on Thurston Community Media, current SSPFP President Natalie Skovran and past President Katya Miltimore discuss the organization and their recent annual Leadership in Philanthropy Awards Luncheon with host Andrea Capere.

“We are an organization that was created to provide an opportunity and a place for nonprofit professionals to meet with one another,” she continues, “to exchange ideas, to lean on each other for support, find educational opportunities, and—most importantly—celebrate philanthropy in our community.”

Skovran encourages the curious to consider attending one of their monthly meetings. These include partners from Thurston, Mason, Lewis, and Pacific counties who meet to discuss philanthropy trends, educate, and spotlight local giving.

At the awards luncheon, held November 2, 2017 at Olympia’s Hotel RL, five local individuals, businesses, and groups were honored. These fell into the categories of Leadership in Personal Philanthropy, Leadership in Business Philanthropy, Philanthropic Community Organization, Next Generation Philanthropist, and the Paul Grudis Inspirational Award.

These categories “morph and evolve over the years,” admits Miltimore, with the 2017 personal and business awards determined by a panel of previous recipients. The SSPFP membership as a whole decided on the Next Generation and Paul Grudis Award categories.

Studio West Dance Guild staff and dancers won the Next Generation Philanthropist award. They’re “really building up our next generation and building up our youth so they’re learning opportunities to really give back to the community,” says Skovran.

For Leadership in Personal Philanthropy, winners Dr. and Mrs. Robert Brunton have been active in the region for more than 50 years, even helping found the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

Leadership in Business Philanthropy winner Batdorf and Bronson are described by Miltimore as “very community-minded and a wonderful organization in our community.”

The Philanthropic Community Organization was chosen because it represents “a great staple in our community,” says Skovran, and Evergreen Christian Community has “really impacted our entire community in supporting families, in supporting individuals, and meeting their needs when they need it most.”

The final award of the year, the Paul Grudis Inspirational Award, went to Valerie Gerst. Gerst is “a real advocate for women and children and for racial and social justice in our community,” she adds.

Other ways the SSPFP helps our community is by providing a place businesses and organizations can interact. Whether it’s sharing in-kind donations for a fundraiser or training groups of dedicated volunteer staff. Miltimore explains that she is often called in to advise smaller non-profits and is especially excited to help and so impressed by their tireless enthusiasm.

Interested individuals can start by reading through resources on the SSPFP website They are then welcome to join as members or visit one of the free meetings every first Wednesday of the month at 8:30 a.m. at Thurston Community Media. And you can’t go wrong by giving locally, either through their outreach or independently.


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