In the Community
Joining Forces. Joining VoicesApril 30, 2018
One philanthropic trend in the past 15 to 20 years is that of collective giving. Groups of individuals, generally with a commonality—gender and gender identity, race, religion, or specific charitable interest—make individual contributions so that collective charitable grants can be made. This is often thought of as “democratizing philanthropy.” People of modest means and backgrounds can participate financially in benevolence in a way they may not have otherwise thought possible.
Women are in the forefront of this movement, with 637 women’s giving circles (48.5 percent of identified collective giving groups) recognized nationwide in a 2006 study. Greater activism and community engagement through volunteerism and advocacy have also become an aspect of many of these groups. As women see an unprecedented rise in their own wealth and influence, they are more willing to invest in making a difference.
Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is proud to have two women’s giving circles under our umbrella.
Women in Philanthropy (WIP) was founded in 2003 by seven dedicated women in conjunction with the Community Foundation. They recruited nearly 100 other philanthropically-minded women in Beaufort County. Each original member committed to donate $3,000 over the course of three years to establish a charitable endowment. By 2006, there was $300,000+ in the fund, and grantmaking began in earnest. Through confident leadership and the careful stewardship of the Community Foundation, the WIP endowment has now grown to over $1.1 million with more than 135 active members. Including the 2017-2018 grantmaking cycle, they have made $443,000 in grants since 2006. Current membership dues are $300 annually, so it is still very affordable for new members. WIP has grown in the sophistication of its grantmaking program, and is doing well the hard job of investing in the nonprofit sector.
The PEARLS of Hampton County (Philanthropic Empowerment Among Rural Lowcountry Sisters) was largely inspired by WIP, though it is smaller and was developed in a way that was more in keeping with the means of its members (dues are $100 annually). Established in 2007, PEARLS has become a trusted leader in Hampton County. A large part of their success is the PEARLS Business Partners program—an annual fundraising initiative which brings over $2,000 each year in donations from Hampton County businesses. Since its inception, the PEARLS Endowment Fund has grown to over $155,000, and to date they have made $54,500 in local grants.
The PEARLS has also undertaken a mentoring program, “The PEARLS’ Girls.” It is wonderful to see the volunteer “aunties” from the PEARLS membership become mentors for young girls who have been identified as leaders among the youth of Hampton County—currently 21 high-school age youth who have been involved since elementary school!
So, if you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift to give to yourself, or to that intelligent, community-minded woman on your list, live generously and start membership in an organization that will live on in the philanthropic life of the community! Call 843-681-9100 for details.
Denise K. Spencer
President and CEO