What is a Community Foundation?

We are frequently asked, “What, exactly, is a community foundation?” If you’re not familiar with the concept, the general answer is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose purpose is to build and strengthen our community by working closely with local, impassioned donors who are motivated to address critical issues facing our region.

Community Foundations:

  • know their communities
  • share your interests
  • care about the future
  • offer giving options that are easy to set up and manage, and that provide tax benefits.

History of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry

In 1994, a group of visionary Lowcountry community leaders recognized the need to create a community foundation. Through the sale of the nonprofit Hilton Head Hospital, Hilton Head Island Foundation, Inc. was born, with a mission to provide philanthropic leadership to a growing community.

In 2001, our service area expanded to include northern Beaufort County, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper Counties. To reflect this, our name changed to Community Foundation of the Lowcountry.

Transforming and Enhancing Our Communities

With more than $95 million invested in the Lowcountry area since 1994, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is the largest source of unrestricted philanthropic resources dedicated to Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper Counties. Throughout our history, we have expanded our services, undertaken important initiatives and altered our course to ensure we’re serving the needs of the Lowcountry. We provide donors and nonprofits the steadfast philanthropic leadership to transform, empower and enhance the communities we serve.

How do we do this?

  • We accept donations, establish funds, make grants, and award scholarships – all while offering donors individualized services and benefits.
  • We design charitable giving plans for individuals, families, professional advisors and nonprofit organizations. Donors can establish a variety of different funds or scholarships, providing tax benefits and freeing them from the burden of philanthropy’s administrative demands.
  • We tackle important issues, spearheading or participating in local initiatives that address topics important to our community.
  • We serve as community leaders and conveners.

Through our visionary, flexible and inclusive philanthropy, we are the community educator, grantmaker and resource that spurs positive, long-lasting change in our community.

Our Mission, Vision and Values

Our Mission

Strengthening community by connecting people, resources, and needs.

Our Vision

Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is a committed philanthropic partner, providing leadership, support, and resources to ensure that all people within our region are thriving.

Our Purpose

Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is dedicated to helping donors, nonprofit organizations and other community members make a difference in the lives of Lowcountry citizens. Our impact will be achieved by bringing together financial resources, knowledge and collaborative networks to serve community needs.

Our Core Values

Inclusion: The Foundation is committed to including and valuing all of our Lowcountry neighbors in our work.

Innovation: The Foundation seeks new ideas and concepts that will improve the quality of life for all residents of the Lowcountry.

Stewardship: The Foundation is an exemplary steward of all resources with which it is entrusted.

Boldness: The Foundation takes appropriate, necessary, and innovative actions in order to successfully fulfill our mission.

Agility: The Foundation is flexible in our response to current events and opportunities as they arise.

Our Guiding Principles

Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is committed to:

  • building a caring regional community.
  • advocating private giving for the public good.
  • providing philanthropic services to donors of all means.
  • convening and connecting community resources.
  • being a source of knowledge regarding issues affecting the community.
  • taking the initiative to improve the community through philanthropy.
  • being held to the highest ethical standards through fairness in policies and procedures, full and objective review of funding requests, and the avoidance of conflict of interest.
  • measuring outcomes and demonstrating results in all its philanthropic activities.
  • being an integral part of the national community foundation field and philanthropy as a whole.

These guiding principles reflect the commitment of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry to provide the most effective stewardship of the charitable resources with which we have been entrusted.

We’re committed to transparency, quality, integrity and accountability

Developed in the spirit of accountability, transparency, and continuous self-improvement, the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations are philanthropy’s most rigorous standards—evidence that community foundations seek excellence for their communities and donors. Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is confirmed in compliance with National Standards.