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Using Connections

Q&A with the CEO of the Cape Coral Community Foundation.



Michael Chatman

Michael Chatman brings his “entrepreneurial toolbox,” his 300,000 Twitter followers and podcast listeners, to the role of president and CEO of the Cape Coral Community Foundation.

He has a bachelor’s degree in political science fromMissouri State University, a master’s degree in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a Harvard Business School Executive Education certification in social entrepreneurship. Chatman, who previously managed a network of 50 affiliate community foundations for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks in Missouri and worked as a consultant for the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, began his current position in August. The Cape Coral Community Foundation, founded in 1973, gave out $3.5 million through outreach, grants, scholarships and community projects in 2015.

What excites you most about your position?

The challenge that Brian Gomer, our chair, has issued, to transform us from a local foundation to a national foundation, to really be a national brand that leads in the field of generosity.

When I was at Anheuser-Busch, we were at $3 billion [in assets]. When I worked at Community Foundation [of the Ozarks], we were $300 million [in assets]. I came here to a foundation that is only $10 million. So the question was why would you leave a $3 billion, a $300 million, to come to a $10 million? It was the challenge, because I see myself as a growth strategist, as a social entrepreneur.

How did you develop such a large Twitter following, and how do you make an asset of your network? 
I was the host of a nationally syndicated radio program called the 
Michael Chatman Show. I’m still doing it, but now it’s not syndicated, it’s a podcast [The Michael Chatman Giving Show]. It exponentially grew
my personal brand to the extent that it now attracts 300,000 followers. I made tremendous contacts with national funders. And now I’m cashing in and bringing those relationships to Southwest Florida to benefit our local nonprofits.

How will you help the CCCF gain national recognition?

It’s just a matter of connecting my own personal brand to our local brand to let people know we are working in concert with each other.

What new initiatives do you hope to start?

A Community Focus Report would allow us to do more comprehensive research to identify red-flag issues in Lee County as well as blue-ribbon issues. Red flags are things that are not going so well in Lee County and the blue ribbons are things we are doing well.

What are Lee County’s greatest needs?

Most certainly there is always a need around support of our veterans. Most certainly education. Workforce readiness, really supporting those nonprofit organizations that are working to put people to work for an affordable and living wage, are some of the big initiatives we are taking a look at to try to put more grant dollars behind. 

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