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Read the thoughts and impressions on a variety of topics written by Christopher F. Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Community Foundation as well as occasional guest bloggers.

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The Question
By Denise K. Spencer / January 2, 2019


As a funder, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry has developed a great deal of knowledge about local needs and services. We have worked with many area nonprofit organizations and we understand their missions and programs. As a result, many community members, donors and potential donors ask us THE QUESTION: Where/how can my charitable dollars have the most positive impact?

Easy, right? With all of our experience and knowledge, this should be a simple question to answer. Well, it isn't. And there are many good reasons why it isn't.

First, consider how one defines positive impact. Measurable outcomes are different for each organization and for each project. How many people are touched? If 100 people are given temporary shelter for a week, does that have the same impact as a family of four receiving permanent housing? Does impact mean permanent or short-term? Does it mean moving folks along a continuum in levels of educational attainment, income, or health? Is prevention a more positive impact than cure? Are children, the elderly, the environment, puppies or the arts more important in the sentiment of the donor? It truly is in the eye and heart of the individual to determine where their own interest and passion lies, and to define the "most positive impact" for themselves.

Second, times change. Quickly. The priority needs before and after the economic downturn in 2008/2009 were significantly different. The priority needs before and after Hurricane Matthew changed quickly. The needs of a high school student change on a dime when they are focused now on college and funding for tuition. So time has a bearing on impact as well.

Finally, how much research is the individual willing to do to assist with these decisions? What matters to you? Who leads the organization? What is the financial outlook? What is its reputation? Does it have a strategic plan?

There are several ways we can help you make good investments with your charitable dollars. One is to review the information on The Giving Marketplace, a database that is part of our website. It is free to both nonprofits who create profiles, and to those seeking information. Our staff assures data accuracy and it is updated annually. If a local nonprofit you are considering does not appear, reach out and ask them to complete a profile. Our staff will happily assist them.

Another way, which is the easiest and most flexible of all, is to make a gift to the Touch Tomorrow for the Lowcountry Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation. This unrestricted fund provides the Community Foundation the needed dollars for current area priorities. Our professional grantmaking staff and trained volunteers take due diligence work very seriously, and that makes it easy for donors to live generously and feel comfortable that their dollars are being used for causes that have "the most positive impact."

Denise K. Spencer
President and CEO
 

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Community Foundation of the Lowcountry

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 23019
Hilton Head Island,
South Carolina 29925

Office Location
4 Northridge Drive, Suite A
Hilton Head Island,
South Carolina 29926
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