By Jim Marks
Lowcountry Giving Day on May 5th left a lasting impression on me. That afternoon I attended a celebration by one of the event’s participating non-profits. It was gratifying to see how our community supported this organization; more than 100 people were present at the event compared to about 30 the previous year.
May 5th was about more than one non-profit, one day or even one community. The increase in people at that single event spoke volumes about the heightened awareness of Lowcountry Giving Day in our area and the support it enjoyed from our donors. But most importantly, it highlighted the generous spirit of our community that keeps us going year-round.
Part of that spirit is reflected in the actual numbers. In just 24 hours, Lowcountry Giving Day raised more than $225,000 for 19 non-profits in our region. Some of them are based in Beaufort itself, but others are located south of the Broad River or in Colleton and Jasper counties, benefitting from the generosity of local donors who saw the potential impact of supporting our Beaufort neighbors.
Beyond dollars, the community support largely resulted from a broader understanding of and appreciation for the power of matching gifts. Members of the Beaufort Listening Network, a volunteer arm of the Coastal Community Foundation, spent the days proceeding May 5th putting up posters at local businesses, community centers and other public locations. Area merchants fully supported and cooperated with their work. Restaurants like Fat Patties donated dollars to the cause while Moe’s and Chipotle provided food for the non-profits who hosted events in connection with the day.
Lowcountry Giving Day inspired our community to support the local causes so deserving of contributions and so important to us. Outside our area, the event raised millions of dollars for other communities along the coast that, like us, were participants in Coastal Community Foundation’s landmark event. Outside the Lowcountry, thousands more donors across the country participated in giving days through the national Give Local America partnership that raised a total of $68.5 million.
While Lowcountry Giving Day focused on matching gifts over one day for qualifying non-profits, the spirit of philanthropy so prominently on display here is what Coastal Community Foundation works on every other day of the year. The Foundation works with local individuals and families to facilitate and advise their giving plans. Staff members provide expert advice about giving plans and options based on more than forty years of experience.
Coastal Community Foundation also provides vital support for non-profit organizations to create a strong, healthy non-profit sector. The Foundation provides technical support for non-profits on topics like building their own donor bases, annual giving or creating an endowment. Funding is the most critical element in the non-profit world, and through The Beaufort Fund, Coastal Community Foundation has awarded nearly $7 million to non-profits in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties since 1998.
The 24 hour Lowcountry Giving Day was certainly a great success with our friends and neighbors rallying to support local organizations. Even with that success, Coastal Community Foundation welcomes comments and ideas from all corners as they go through their own evaluation process. You are invited to pass along your comments by email at email@example.com or by phone at (843) 723-3635.
However, I also encourage you to use those contacts to learn more about Coastal Community Foundation’s work outside of Lowcountry Giving Day in Beaufort. The other 364 days are just as incredible.
Jim Marks is a board member of Coastal Community Foundation. Each week, Coastal Community Foundation highlights organizations, donors and other charitable news in The Philanthropy Corner. If you’re interested in learning more about philanthropy in the Lowcountry, reach out to our regional Stewardship Officer, Gloria Duryea, at Gloria@CoastalCommunityFoundation.org or (843) 379-3400.