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.

Audi Hilton Head Spotlights Community Foundation of the Lowcountry

Everyday Matters: Every Day Matters


A Boon and a Bane
By Denise K. Spencer / February 2, 2017

After our annual report was distributed in the newspaper in early December, I received an interesting item in the mail.

Someone used the return envelope included in our annual report, which was part of our appeal for our Disaster Recovery and Rebuilding Fund, to return to us the page from the report that included our combined financials. He/she wrote across the top, “Looks like u have enough money already!” and then circled our asset numbers—total liabilities and net assets of $63,211,629 and net assets at end of fiscal year of $55,871,319. Unfortunately, since a name and contact information were not included, I could not reach out with a response to obvious concerns.

Community foundations are not easy organizations to understand, though we try to make it so. In the annual report, we list the majority of our over 300 different funds. Each fund has a different purpose, and each was established by separate individuals or groups. The total combined assets of all of these funds, along with our building and other property, make up the Community Foundation’s assets. We would not use assets in a scholarship fund for disaster grantmaking. We would not use assets meant to support one particular cause to support a different one.

So the boon is that we have grown, in the 22 years of our existence, from about $20 million to about triple that amount, and have given away almost $65 million.

The bane is that those current assets are divided among over 300 different funds—supporting over 300 different causes; I would wager that not a single one of them has enough assets to fully meet the needs/issues for which it was designed.

While I’m at it, I’ll point out another question about our financials that is often raised: Why are our fundraising expenses “so high?” (In the past fiscal year, this number was $87, 336.) If the folks who established a particular fund at the Community Foundation raised money for the fund by having a golf outing, those expenses for the event, if paid by the fund, would be included in that fundraising number. Other groups, in raising money for other funds, did mailings, or had galas, or purchased advertising. All the food, entertainment and music, printing, prizes, t-shirts and the like would be considered “fundraising expenses.” And these collective expenses total that annual fundraising number, and are expenses that we do not influence. These are decisions made by the specific groups for their specific events.

If you have questions about these issues, or others regarding the operation of the Community Foundation, please don’t hesitate to ask. Our goal is to be transparent, while protecting donor privacy and the intent of the use of the funds.

So no, for Disaster Recovery and Rebuilding, or Project SAFE, or a number of other important causes, we don’t “have enough money already.” But with your help, for causes of your choosing, if you live generously, we can certainly have an impact.

We are always happy to answer any questions you have about the Community Foundation and our operations. Just give us a call at 843.681.9100.

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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