Our Blog - Live Generously

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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Does Your Auto Mechanic Cut Your Hair?
By Denise K. Spencer / March 31, 2015

There is an old proverb that goes something like this: A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client. Similar logic can apply in a number of areas. I would not cut my own hair, for example—but neither would I let my auto mechanic do so. 

I have many skills and I have used them to my advantage, both in my career and other aspects of daily life. But it is also important that I understand my deficits. I cannot know everything. And even if I could, it might not be the best use of my time and resources to study each subject, take the time to develop the necessary skills through practice, and then accomplish the task. Why would I invest a number of years in veterinary school so I might best care for my sick dog, when I can, with much less cost and investment of time, hire a skilled veterinarian to do so? It is reasonable to focus on the efficiency of continuing to hone those skills I have, use them to earn a living, and then hire someone to build custom cabinets, replace my brakes, and read my x-rays. Most of us have expertise in some areas, and look for the best technicians in other areas to provide other services we need. 

The field of philanthropy is no different. When you are making decisions about your charitable interests and goals, to whom do you turn for advice? Do you ask your landscaper…your massage therapist…your doubles partner? And even if they have perfect knowledge related to their own philanthropy, it is most likely not customized to your specific needs. 

What if you want to make a charitable gift, receive a tax benefit AND arrange for income for yourself or a loved one? Do you know which organizations in the Lowcountry are providing service to the elderly, are concerned about water quality or improve our community through the arts? Is it apparent which nonprofit organizations have strong financials, operate with a visionary strategy or have a knowledgeable board of directors? As you can see, charitable support is far more complex than simply writing a check. 

Further, consider the following: Can you use an unusual asset--like a patent, or a business interest, or a significant piece of jewelry--to use to improve the world? Do you wish to assure that the organizations you currently support, and which have come to depend on you, can continue to be supported after your lifetime? Is it your goal to honor a loved one and his or her values through your philanthropy? 

It is obvious that these are specialized issues, and require unique, distinctive, customized solutions. In the same way you would shop for the best physician to address a medical need, you should shop for the best expertise to develop a framework and a plan for your personal philanthropy. This is where Community Foundation of the Lowcountry can serve you. 

We know that you have incredible talents that have assisted you in becoming successful. We know that you have many skills and much knowledge of which the staff at Community Foundation likely has no awareness. But our own stock in trade is listening to your hopes and dreams--your values and your goals—and then customizing charitable solutions just for you. Your success in addressing your charitable intent is our success. Your need for trusted assistance from people with proven expertise can be filled by calling Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. One of the most exciting things we do is brainstorm with community members about their concerns and goals, then see them smile when it becomes apparent that a strategic solution is at hand! 

As I encourage you to continue to live generously, and to seek assistance from those of us who have local community knowledge, and many tools at our disposal, I promise you this---I won’t cut your hair. 

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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