Thursday, May 21, 2009

Volunteers In Medicine on HHI

Visited the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic on Hilton Head Island. I was blown away by the volume of patients seen annually and the volume of volunteers.

Lois Schuhrke, who is the coordinator for the Dental Department at VIM, said they delivered almost one million dollars of dental services for less than $200,000! The dental clinic provides free dental care and preventative services treating almost 4,800 patients annually; about 1,500 are children. VMI provided $16,000,000 in health care services, including 31,000 visits for 10,000 active patients in 2008. They are anticipating the number to exceed 32,000 this year. How can they do it? They have over 500 volunteers who serve in every capacity. VIM serves people who live or work on Hilton Head or Daufauskie Islands and meet other qualifiying criteria. WOW!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Higher Learning

George Watt, recently arriving Executive Vice President, Institutional Advancement, College of Charleston raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Naval Academy. He arrived in Charleston to take the helm of the fundraising effort at the College just before the recent economic unpleasantness. Across the nation giving to academic institutions is down double digits. Moreover, social media tools like Facebook and MySpace weaken the traditional ties of alumni to Alumni Offices.  What's a leader to do?  

Here is what George Watt suggests:

Offer alumni permanent email addresses like (of course) but take it one step further by having laptops available during class reunions to help returning alumni set up accounts with technical assistance offered by current students.

Deepen the life-long ties of alumni by offering job placement services of the traditional alumni office, but offer those services to alumni for life (not just for recent graduates). You will immediately win some friends in this economy.

Recognize that those complaining about the push to the web and social media are not going to be your core constituency much longer. Online service delivery reduces fundraising costs faster than you might expect, unless you expect immediate gains. It takes a couple of years of struggle to get the benefits, but once they kick in the savings are huge.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So, what is the Charleston Friend Society?

I had the pleasure of having lunch with Stephanie Swafford (in the picture, on the left) to learn more about the Charleston Friend Society. Stephanie and her friends were thinking about ways to be part of the community as well as contributing to it. Based on their shared interests in social events and supporting the work of nonprofits, the Charleston Friend Society started in October of 2008. Already, they have almost 500 members on Facebook. Their interests lie in cultural and charity events, theater, orchestra, art exhibits, fine cuisine and a whole lot more!

On May 21st, the Charleston Friend Society will hold their first fundraiser and food drive for the Lowcountry Food Bank at Carolina's Bistro from 6-9pm. 100% of your $5 entry will go directly to the Lowcountry Food Bank. (Canned food donations are encouraged but not required).

Please call (754-2454) or email Stephanie ( if you have any questions and watch their web site for upcoming events. Also, check out their Charity Exchange;"A place for charities to share their wish lists and needs, and find those who will fill them."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fishing for a Cause

Interested in Cobia fishing and making a difference in the Port Royal Sound Watershed? The Port Royal CVB is hosting its inaugural Port Royal Sound Cobia Fishing Tournament to benefit the Port Royal Sound Fund of Coastal Community Foundation.

The purpose of the Port Royal Sound Fund of Coastal Community Foundation is to maintain and improve the quality of life in the Port Royal Sound Watershed area by supporting the health of the waterways and the practice of sustainable development and redevelopment practices within the watershed. The Port Royal Sound Cobia Fishing Tournament is a great way to raise awareness and support. The Tournament will be held on May 30, 2009. A Captain's Party and Registration will begin at 6:30 PM May 29, 2009 at the Quality Inn at Town Center in Beaufort, SC. The tournament will begin at 4:30 AM and will conclude at 4:30 PM. It is promoting catch and release of all Cobia. The Awards Party will take place at The Office Sports Bar and Grille in Beaufort Town Center at 6:30 PM. Cash prizes of over $5000 will be awarded. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Port Royal Sound Fund of Coastal Community Foundation. If you don't want to fish you can still support the fund by clicking here and designating the Port Royal Sound Fund.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Feeding Another Need

"You know I could do something big. I have done big fundraisers before." That was Mickey Bakst of Charleston Grill talking up my dinner guests. I had heard of his success raising money for the Charleston Nine and so knew that this was not idle cocktail party chatter. A few weeks later I got a Saturday morning call from Mickey, excruciatingly early in the morning for me let alone someone who manages a restaurant at night (that should have clued me into his energy level). "I have an idea," he said. Well, here's what happens when you mix goodwill with lots energy, add a dash of creativity, a pinch of diplomacy, and simmer in Mickey's special sauce.

You get Feed the Need. Mickey's idea was to recruit 52 chefs to each provide a meal for 400 people over the course of a year at four different soup kitchens. That's right, 52 chefs stirring the pot (and that definitely is not too many to spoil the soup). The first meal of an estimated 20,000 meals over the next year was offered at Tricounty Family Ministries in North Charleston. Crisis Ministries, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, and Neighborhood House will serve as additional distribution points. If you poke around on Google you find that Charles and Celeste Patrick of Patrick Properties (think Fish Restaurant) have blogged on the project and have joined in too. So has the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association. So has the Miami press. We are talking serious internet buzz here. What is going on? This idea has gone global.

Paul Stracey, General Manager of Charleston Place Hotel and Managing Director of Orient Express Hotels in North America said that Orient Express intends to roll this idea out to its other properties in the US and around the world.

Now for the interesting tidbit that makes this story more than just your typical "atta boy" story. I had to twist Mickey's arm to get him to even consider making this effort public. He wanted no publicity. Sometimes that selflessness gets lost in the bright lights and amplified speeches. The most successful efforts often have selflessness as a secret ingredient.