Community Foundation of the Lowcountry: South Carolina Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder has a competitive grantmaking process and donor advised funds to support the South Carolina counties of Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper. Funding often supports literacy, the environment, nonprofit capacity and community building.

FUNDING AREAS: Literacy, the environment, nonprofit capacity, women in philanthropy, community building, arts and culture, education, health, human services, religious organizations

IP TAKE: There are over 1,000 nonprofits serving the counties that this community funder supports. To stand out, grant seekers should pitch an idea that is very locally focused. Nearly all common interest areas are covered here.

PROFILE: The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry was founded in 1994 and serves the residents of the South Carolina counties of Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper. It seeks to strengthen “community by connecting people, resources, and needs.” There are over 380 funds that make up this community foundation’s grantmaking, and it has made over $58 million in grants since 1994. The foundation is based in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

This community funder awards grants through nonprofit applications, as well as grants subject to donors’ requests. Grants that local nonprofits can apply for include community impact grants, community investment grants and organizational development grants. There are some good opportunities here for groups looking to launch new programs, expand existing services, and retain consultants to increase capacity and sustainability.

The funder also issues requests for proposals for annual grants in areas like the environment and literacy. Other areas of interest include arts and culture, education, health, human services, and religious organizations.

Giving circles based at this community foundation are very female-focused. One giving circle is called Women in Philanthropy and the other is Philanthropic Empowerment Among Rural Lowcountry Sisters (PEARLS) of Hamilton County. Field of interest funds also go to the Jasper Community Fund. Otherwise, grants are made at the recommendation of donors and, with the exception of scholarships, are rarely open to applications.

The largest legacy gift to date was given to this community foundation by the Jim and Margaret Krum Foundation. The gift provides scholarships for local students. The Krum Scholarship is typically worth about $8,500 per student per year and eligible for renewal for students' entire undergraduate and graduate school experience.

To be eligible for a grant, a grant seeker’s organization must serve the people of Hilton Head Island, Daufauskie Island or the Greater Bluffton area. It is also a requirement that grant seekers attend a grants information session at the community foundation within a year of the desired application due date. This funder makes grant decisions three times per year. Proposals received by April 1 will be considered in late July, by August 1 in late November, and by December 1 in late March.

Grant seekers can keep up with what this funder is doing on its news and reports page and on its blog, which is mostly updated by the foundation’s president and CEO, Denise K. Spencer. Grant seekers can direct general questions to the staff at 843-681-9100 or to individual staff members via email.


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