Sanibel Couple Establishes $2M Donor Advised Fund with CFI

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Bill and Laurie Harkey

Laurie and Bill Harkey have embraced philanthropic causes for many years and in multiple locations as they moved for Bill’s Army career. When the couple moved to Sanibel four years ago, they naturally got involved with local nonprofits that matched their interests. The next logical step was to invest in those causes.

So, they recently created a $2 million Donor Advised Fund (DAF) with the Charitable Foundation of the Islands (CFI), as well as a legacy commitment by naming CFI as a successor trustee.

“This is our home now,” Laurie said. “We’re shifting our support and our interest here. That was the catalyst. We’ve been here almost 4 years. We’ve been gone from Akron 35 years. Now it’s time to shift our focus.”

The Harkeys looked at various local organizations before deciding to establish the fund with CFI. “We are so grateful to the Harley’s and all of our DAF donors,” said Dolly Farrell, Executive Director of CFI. “DAF’s are easy to set up and are tax-efficient,” she said. DAF’s are also the fastest growing charitable giving vehicle in the United States and one that CFI has offered to its donors since 2011.

“CFI is still relatively young as an organization and needs to grow,” said Bill. “I would encourage anyone within earshot that is looking for a philanthropic way of doing things to consider CFI as a very good place to start. Donor Advised Funds help your money grow.”

CFI works with a variety of island nonprofit organizations that are important to the Harkeys, including the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge, F.I.S.H. of SanCap, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and the Sanibel Community House.

“We wanted to do our philanthropy while we could see the impact,” Bill said. “The need is great, and the need is now.”

The couple made additional lead gifts recently to other island nonprofits including a $500,000 matching gift challenge grant to repair the Sanibel Community House.

“If the Sanibel Lighthouse is the physical symbol of the soul of the island, then the Community House is its beating heart,” Bill said. The Harkeys believe it’s important that it be repaired and reopened so residents can once again gather there.

Bill, who is from California, spent almost 30 years in the U.S. Army, primarily in public affairs and instructing at the Army War College. Laurie was a medical social worker, originally from Akron. They traveled extensively for his job.

Now they are fulltime Sanibel residents and volunteer their time regularly with CROW, Ding Darling, Sanibel Captiva Rotary Club, and various other wildlife, environmental, education and veteran affairs causes. The Harkeys were recently recognized for their volunteer efforts by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce being named “Volunteers of the Year” for 2023.

At one time they had considered establishing their own foundation and had even started setting one up. Then they found out about DAFs and realized they require far less maintenance on the donors’ part.

“You don’t need to start with a big sum,” Bill said. “You can let it grow with CFI (or the organization managing it) and recommend grants to the nonprofits you want to support. We let the people who do this for a living handle it. It’s a no brainer and it’s so easy.” A Donor Advised Fund can be established with CFI for a minimum of $25,000.

For information on Donor Advised Funds, visit or contact Dolly Farrell at ( or 239-322-3818.

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