Friday, December 30, 2011

Beautiful Rubbish

Have you ever wondered where ocean debris ends up after being washed away by incoming tides after families and frolickers leave the coast after a day of sun and fun? In most cases the debris ends up in our pristine waterways and a lot of times in the stomachs of marine mammals. Local eco-advocate Jennifer Mathis was motivated by this fact at a recent visit to the Marine Mammal Center in California where the CA-based Washed Ashore exhibit utilized ocean debris to create huge art sculptures to inform and impress viewers. The dramatic effect aims to educate the public that ocean debris is not welcome on our beaches, in our oceans, and surely not in or near the marine life that inhabits them. Ms. Mathis loved the idea and requested permission to initiate a similar awareness campaign here in the Lowcountry.

The unveiling of a 9-foot sculpture of a pelican will take place on New Years Eve at Marion Square in downtown Charleston. Students from the School of the Arts helped complete the project to raise awareness about ocean debris on our beaches and in our waterways.

Read more about the local project at The Post and Courier.
Read more about other local, grassroot projects and worthy nonprofit programming in the Winter edition of Richard's Report.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

$50 to feed a hungry child? Sure! $50 to feed ten hungry children? Nah!

In a story by NPR’s Alix Spiegel on Thanksgiving weekend, Alix said people are inspired to make a contribution when shown a photo of a single hungry child; but when they’re given statistics about lots of hungry children, they don’t choose to give. And when they’re shown a photo of a single hungry child that’s accompanied by statistics, they also don’t choose to give. It’s the photo of the single person in need that makes people want to write a check. No statistics, please.

Later, Alix’s story reported that when asked to give to a cause – say, women’s breast cancer – the majority of us don’t give. But many among that non-giving majority WILL give if they’re told that they have to commit to running a 5K race in order to be included on the donor list. What’s up with that?

About the first example above, I’m more likely to give to a single stranger with an obvious need than I am to give the same amount in response to a report with stats about how many people share that need. The amount I’d give is more likely actually to make a difference to one identifiable person than it would for a bunch of people. But wait, stupid – in giving to help many, my money would, of course, still help that one.

As for the second example, yoga or running marathons have no appeal for me, but when I’m asked to give in response to, “Send us a donation to a cause that you know is important, or we’ll invite you to a black tie reception that lasts until midnight at a fancy hotel”, it’s, ”Gimme my checkbook! How much do you want?”

Here’s a link to that NPR story, told by Guy Raz, with information that Development Directors should be attentive to – and that might make the rest of us ask ourselves, “Exactly what does motivate me to give?”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Generous Geeks at Philanthropy Week

Hopefully, most of you know it's Philanthropy Week here in the lowcountry.  As part of the celebration, active Palmetto Technology Hub (PATH) volunteers and some nonprofits got together for a lunch at our office today.   (You can see them displaying some of the swag we received from Google!).

Although PATH regularly holds free trainings and the occasional lunch for everyone involved in PATH, this was for the die-hard volunteers that have gone above and beyond.

What I love about these geeks is the time they've spent supporting PATH this year.  It absolutely blows my mind.  Nonprofits have saved hundreds of dollars in tech support costs, so that money is instead used to meet their core mission.  We have volunteers who have driven out to nonprofit offices for on-site hardware support and others who have built some beautiful websites.   (PATH even received volunteer support from a local graphic designer for the main logos and the boot camp logos!)  So, I have to say it again.  And again.  And again. Thanks geeks for all you do.  Techies in this community are the best ones around.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guest Blogger: Center for Heir's Property Preservation Staff Tish Lynn

Hello Everyone – How many of you have heard the term - heirs’ property? I hope MORE of you than when I started helping with marketing for the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation a year and a half ago?!

But seriously…I want all of you to know what heirs’ property is and what the Center does…because what happens to heirs’ property happens to you.

Airs? Hairs? Heirs? Howzat? It’s HEIRS and it’s a mouthful and it’s in your backyard. Almost wherever you live in the Lowcountry, there is heirs’ property nearby. Much of it comprises century-old hamlets and settlements that form the irreplaceable rural landscape that we all enjoy. That’s why - what happens to heirs’ property happens to you.

What is the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation? The Center is an independent, non-profit organization that began as a project at Coastal Community Foundation and helps prevent the loss of heirs’ property across six counties – Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester and Georgetown.

What is heirs’ property? In the Lowcountry, heirs’ property is mostly land that was either purchased by or deeded to African Americans following emancipation. But – because this land has been passed down through the generations without a will, it is owned “in common” by all of the heirs whether they live on the land or not; pay the taxes or not or have never set foot on the land. Any heir, descended from the original owner, owns a percentage of the family land.

So? The problem with owning land this way is

that it can be easily lost. All it takes is for one person, who wants to buy the land, to find one heir willing to sell his/her percentage of ownership of the land. The buyer then becomes an heir and can force a sale of the entire property in the court and, often, buy it for a song. Too much heirs’ land has already been lost because of increased coastal development and a lack of access to the judicial system to prevent its loss.

See the problem? In a forced sale, the only way for the family to save the land is for them to come together and buyout the buyer within a year’s time. Sounds simple, but many heirs’ property owners are low-income and their family members are often dispersed all over the state and country. Let’s face it. Families are complicated enough without having to coordinate something like this.

Consider the solution? The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation is the only non-profit organization in the state providing “soup-to-nuts” education and direct legal services to low-income families to help heirs come to agreement; obtain clear title and keep their family land. Since the Center’s inception in 2005, we have provided advice and counsel to 1,006 applicants and comprehensive legal services to 300 clients; conducted 203 legal seminars and presentations for 5,610 persons, and also provided technical assistance to county government planners and local planning committees on HP as they worked on comprehensive plans for their communities. Working with volunteers from the Charleston School of Law and Trident Technical College, the Center has successfully cleared 69 titles.

Want to help?
If you are an attorney in Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester or Georgetown counties where we serve, you can volunteer to help draft simple wills at one of our FREE Last Will and Testament Clinics which we schedule throughout the year.

If you would like to learn more about us and, perhaps, make a donation, go to: where it’s easy to give.

If you would like to support us in a BIGGER way, you can become a sponsor for our supreme fundraising event - 2012 “Commitment to Justice” Award Reception, where we will honor the inimitable Judge Alex Sanders. Call us for details at: (843) 745-7055.

Go ahead and Save-the-Date! Join the throngs of admirers who will raise a glass (or two!) in the Crystal Ballroom of the Marriott Charleston Riverview at 170 Lockwood Blvd. on Thursday, February 9, 2012 from 6-8:30PM to salute Judge Sanders for his exceptional humanitarianism and passionate pursuit of justice for all…and you’ll be helping the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation in the bargain. Yeah… NOW you know who we are and what we do.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Building a Generous Board

I talked with an Executive Director and his Board Chair this morning about how to increase the expected level of giving by each member of the Board.  They wanted the standard Board Member gift to be $5,000.  It is currently much less.  The question was how to get there.

The answer is a bit more complicated than they had hoped.

Of course one needs to make members of the Board aware of the $5,000 expectation, but that is the last thing you need to do.  There is quite a bit of work that is needed first.  Let's walk backwards through the steps.

To get a $5,000 gift from each member of the Board you need a Board that is passionate about the organization and has members that each have $5,000 to give.  This might take some new Board Member recruitment.

To get a passionate Board with money you need to have Board meetings that run well and use the talents of the Board Members.  This might take some changes to the agendas of Board Meetings.

To have well-run Board meetings and Board Members that feel valued you need well-organized Staff who help the Board make good decisions by providing time on the agenda to discuss ideas and Staff who provide, in advance, the detailed answers to the obvious questions related to the decision (dollars, time, work involved, etc.).  This will take pre-meeting planning time on the part of Staff.

In short, to reach the level where each member of the Board is giving $5,000, the Board Chair and the Executive Director need a plan for Board involvement in the organization...and they need a total package of steps as a kind of "Talent Campaign."  Much like a fundraising campaign the Executive Director and the Board Chair need to launch a campaign that seeks out talented Board Members and keeps them on the Board.  That talent who will attract more talent.  This recruitment is just like a pyramidal fundraising campaign where you identify the lead gift (the talented rock star member of the Board) that attracts the next gifts (other talented folks), and the next, etc.

Talent + Passion = More Resources

But yeah, sure.  You can easily set the expectation of $5,000 gifts by all members of the Board, that is, if you do a little upfront work.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sonny's Safari

Sonny Sutton, the recently hired Administrative Data Assistant to the Grants and Programs department, had his first experience with site visits for Open Grants finalists last month. After finishing over 40 visits, he got a good idea of what our grantees do for the community and what the Foundation does for our donors.

Grants and Programs Staff visit every organization that applies and qualifies for one of our competitive grants programs to ensure that the money our donors entrust in us is being given to organizations that are operating efficiently and effectively. These visits build the Staff's community knowledge bank and also help build connections throughout the community.

Sonny's Safari began in July and involved four weeks of travel, knowledge gathering, excitement, and fun. Here are his thoughts on a few organizations he visited.

Veterans on Deck is an organization that specializes in therapy for veterans suffering from PTSD and, more recently, women who were sexually assaulted while serving in the military. The program allows veterans go out together on a sail boat and do all of the sailing themselves. The idea is that they will begin to come to terms with their experiences and cope with the stress through sailing, which can be stressful and difficult work. Sonny said, "this program is a great way for veterans to get together and know they aren't alone in their struggles. The need for these services will most likely explode in the coming years as more soldiers rotate out of combat, so it is essential that these programs continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of our veterans."

WINGS for Kids fills a vital need in the community by offering after-school programs that help children in low-income households develop social and emotional intelligence. The programs help kids learn to behave well, make good decisions, and build healthy relationships. After sitting with one of the groups of children, Sonny was pleasantly surprised by how much interaction and team building was going on within the group. "All of the kids I met were very friendly and polite and excited to meet new people. It's definitely a lot different than when I was in elementary school-in the best of ways."

Our Lady of Mercy Outreach is an organization that helps indigent Johns Island residents with food, clothing, medical and dental needs, education, and many other things. “I was impressed with how well they had done in such a poor, rural area. The food pantry was fully stocked, the clothing area was full of nice clothing, and their medical and dental services are top notch. The facility is absolutely gorgeous and they offer outstanding services from dental to medical to education-basically everything you can think of all under one roof. The Outreach is a great resource for people that don't have many options.”

Charleston Academy of Music is a place for young kids to get together and play music. These children come from low-income neighborhoods and, without CAM, would have no other way of learning to play the violin, cello, and other orchestral instruments. "These kids are given this opportunity that they wouldn't otherwise have, and they are excelling. The first and second graders that I saw were just amazingly talented."

Ronald McDonald House is a place where families with a child diagnosed with cancer can live while their child is undergoing treatment. It is a place that feels like home, which is so important during times of great stress. The different families are going through the same things and can draw support and strength from each other. "It just has a real sense of community behind it--all of the families have a child going through the same thing, so they all get along and have a built-in support group.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Free tech support for lowcountry nonprofits

Did you know free tech support is available for lowcountry nonprofits?  Yes, free!  Palmetto Technology Hub was started informally in February of 2010 to meet the computer needs of nonprofits and continues to grow with funding from Google.

Local geeks sign up to provide volunteer support and nonprofits can submit help requests, ranging from broken computers to website building.  Not every single case can be filled due to volunteer limitations on time, but PATH has helped dozens of nonprofits over the last year.  

They also held a summer conference in partnership with us at Coastal Community Foundation and Google.  If you missed it, you can access slides online from most of the conference sessions.
If you have time to volunteer or are a nonprofit with a tech need, stop by their website.   They also send out a monthly e-newsletter with helpful tips and offer free in-person training at least once a month.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Who's in charge here?

With small budgets, free health clinics in our area can't do much advertising, so how's anybody to know where they're located, what they do, and who can use them? With a 3-year grant from the Duke Endowment, AccessHealth Tricounty Network has an office at Trident United Way to inventory and coordinate all the health-related services available. Twenty-seven partner agencies serving people with low incomes and no insurance have come to the table to work together to (1) decrease use of the emergency room as a primary health provider, (2) change how uninsured patients access health care, and (3) improve health outcomes and quality of life for those patients. Rosalia Velazquez moved to Charleston from California to become Executive Director, with years of experience with this kind of work. Additional dollars are needed to hire three more Patient Navigators, each of whom would help 400 patients per year to navigate their way to health care services that are available, but not always known or accessible.

Breaking the cycle

The Family Justice Center of Georgetown County (FJCGC) opened its doors in January of 2011 to serve victims of domestic violence. It originated in 2007 as a grassroots response to a steep rise in the number of domestic violence cases in Georgetown County Deeply concerned by the growing rate of domestic violence, a group of concerned citizens gathered legislators, judges, law enforcement, service providers, victims and victim advocates to develop an effective response. The group learned about the Family Justice Center (FJC) approach and decided to develop one in Georgetown County. The FJC is a collaborative, victim-centered model that offers multidisciplinary services and agencies, working together under one roof to address family and intimate partner violence. There are over 70 FJCs in operation around the world-two in SC-with about 140 under development. Ensuring that those affected by domestic violence have access to necessary resources in one location helps stop the vicious cycle of domestic violence. The Family Justice Center of Georgetown County is dedicated to creating a community with a no-tolerance attitude towards domestic violence.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Start Some Good with Social Media

I had the opportunity to review "Welcome to the Fifth Estate" by Geoff Livingston for Start Some Good. The full review is available on their blog and I've highlighted a few key questions below. By now, it's likely you are one of the 750 million users on Facebook. Are you using Facebook to connect with people about your mission, or just stumbling along?

Livingston's book is about social media strategy, rather than 'stumbling'  Here are some questions to ask yourself about your use of social media, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, or a tool I haven't heard of yet.

Are you having a conversation or simply promoting yourself?

Do your messages invite conversation?

When your audience responds, do you keep the conversation going, or just ignore them?

Do you measure what matters?

There's a lot more to the book than just these points. If you find yourself at our office in Charleston, SC, you're welcome to come by and borrow my copy of the book.   It will give you some new ways to approach your activities online.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Shade trees and compound interest

A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit. (Elton Trueblood, Quaker theologian and writer).
With a little over $60,000 in gifts from Billie and Alan Houghton, the Foundation’s Human Needs Endowment was created 27 years ago.
In the years since, that $60,000 has grown to just under $400,000 even after providing charities with almost $250,000 in grants.
Crisis Ministries was among the first grant recipients, back then. Among the most recent are Summerville and East Cooper Meals on Wheels, Dorchester Habitat, and the Lowcountry Food Bank.

When the Houghtons seeded this endowment in 1984, they knew that some day it would grow to be a mighty shade tree. Every year since, their “investment return” reports have been the notes we’ve sent them, telling which charities addressing basic human needs have benefitted from the endowment they created back when Ronald Reagan was president.
Billie and Alan don’t decide which causes will benefit from the Human Needs Endowment. They asked that the Foundation oversee those decisions both during their lives and into the future.
Shade trees, compound interest and people like the Houghtons – ain’t they grand?
You can do it too, if you choose. And it doesn’t take $60,000. A permanent endowment for the charitable cause you care about can be created with $10,000.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thank You, Think You, Thonk You?

I've been thinking about thanking.  I say "Thank You" at least a dozen times each day.  I thank my wife for reminding me to pick up my house keys on my way out the door (she is so thoughtful).  I thank the lady who holds the door open for me at the post office (she is not so self-absorbed as to let the door slam in my face).  I thank Liz, our office manager, for being in the office early (she is thinking ahead).  Then I make a phone call and thank a donor for his $500,000 gift to Coastal Community Foundation.  I use the same two words in each of these "Thank You's" but I can't possibly mean the same thing each time, can I?

If we start with the basics of why you say "Thank You" everything will make sense. 

We thank people we want to encourage to do that, whatever "that" is, again.  We encourage their thoughtfulness, their thinking about more than just themselves, their willingness to put themselves in our place or the place of others, by thanking them.  We thank people for thinking.

If you need any more evidence for this way of thinking, consider that our word "Thank" is derived from the Middle English word for "Think."

So back to that donor who gave $500,000 to create an endowment fund at Coastal Community Foundation.  The "Thank You" in that instance means "I encourage you to think about the needs in this community again."

Thanking is contagious.  It encourages each of us to think about others.  Thoughtful "Thank You's" through time create a community of thoughtful, thankful people.

Think about it.  Or better yet, thank about it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Affordable Healthcare in your neighborhood

Previous issues of Richard's Report (PDF) have included information about free Health Clinics all over our service area, using volunteers and donations to provide medical and dental, prescriptions, respite, and information services. But with small budgets, they can’t do much advertising, so how’s anybody to know where they’re located, what they do, and who can use them?With a 3-year grant from the Duke Endowment, AccessHealth Tricounty Network has an office at Trident United Way to inventory and coordinate all the health-related services available. Twenty-seven partner agencies serving people with low incomes and no insurance have come to the table to work together to (1) decrease use of the emergency room as a primary health provider, (2) change how uninsured patients access health care, and (3) improve health outcomes and quality of life for those patients. Rosalia Velazquez moved to Charleston from California to become Executive Director, with years of experience with this kind of work. Additional dollars are needed to hire three more Patient Navigators, each of whom would help 400 patients per year to navigate their way to health care services that are available, but not always known or accessible.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Year-end Nonprofit Survey is in!

According to a survey conducted by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, only 52 percent of 1,845 charitable organizations surveyed reached their fundraising goals in 2010. The survey concentrated on two key areas—organizations that reached their fundraising goals and organizations that raised more funds last year than in the previous year.

Here are some interesting findings:

- 43% of organizations saw growth in fundraising revenues compared to 33% that saw declines.
- 67% of those surveyed saw contributions increase or stay about the same up from 54% in 2009.
- 58% of organizations with the capability to receive online donations saw an increase in online giving.
- 50% of organizations with a major gift/events channel saw a rise in major gift/events revenue.

Most charities expect giving in 2011 to increase and plan to hold staffing and expenditures for fundraising at 2010 levels.

Read the entire survey to learn more about how the nonprofit sector fared in 2010.

Reflections of a veteran Grantor

I am sure the thought of Patrick Hodges being a grantor is somewhat terrifying for those that know me, but after 3 years of serving on the Blackbaud Fund advisory board, that is exactly what I am! Dare I say the experience has been life changing? Well, perhaps not life changing, but my participation in the process has forever changed my perspective on the needs of our community and the positive impact a company and its employees can have on our local nonprofits.

In this 15th year for The Blackbaud Fund, we maintained the original charter of using our endowment resources to focus on education for disadvantaged youth. The process for determining who gets the funding can be powerfully moving as we learn more about the organization and the mission it supports and, conversely, excruciatingly tough, as we determine who may not be funded due to lack of oversight or need.

The best part? Making that call to the organization to let them know of our decision to fund their program or overall mission and speaking on behalf of over 2500 Blackbaud employees who are indirectly voicing their support as well. I have sincerely appreciated being a part of this process, and meeting with over 10 funding candidate organizations during on-site visits has given me an experience that I have leveraged both personally—educating my two young sons on the power of philanthropy and giving—and professionally.

If you happen to be a Blackbaud employee and you are reading this, did you know that you have:
• Helped to support after school programs for children attending Title One Schools where they learn self confidence, the value of diversity, and how to collaborate with peers and teachers
• Supplied hope in the form of free summer camps to foster children who have been victims of abuse and neglect
• Supported educational programs which teach young children about their world and environment and how they can positively impact it
• Supported a program that teaches core reading skills to children at the most critical point in their early educational development
• Supported a program which pairs mentors with at-risk male youths to reduce teen pregnancy and high school dropout rates through education on attitude, responsibility, and the modeling of positive behavior

Wow, I take that back, it has been life changing!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Defining your community

I was late and now after several minutes more of searching I found a parking place.  Not a big deal, but as I got out of the car I put on my jacket quickly and wondered how my apology would sound.  Being busy is probably good.  Being insensitive to a prospect's time is definitely not.  I tried several versions of my apology in my head as I jaywalked and dodged traffic.

Half a block from my appointment I saw a face I recognized.  It was a man I had met once or twice and now I was struggling to recall his name.  I planned one of those moving handshakes.  Right hand out, keep up my pace, just a quick hello, rotate as you did no go as planned.

Patterson Smith reached out to shake my hand and stopped me by stepping into my path.  "George," he said, "your collar is turned up."  He reached up and folded it down patting my shoulder as he did.

"Community" is made of a thousand little moments like this one.  Most times you do not see who is looking out for you.  There is the courtesy of the drivers who let me step out in front of them.  The concern of parents who coaxed their children to one side to let me pass on the sidewalk.  Even the gifts of the homeowners who trimmed their trees and planted their gardens that calmed me on my brisk walk.

If you think that this little story is my new friendship with Patterson Smith you are missing my point.  Yes, I will be nicer to him in the future.  The point of my story is that "community" is about the care we provide for people who are several steps beyond our circle of friends.  In my case, it was care for someone (me) wrapped up in their own little world and not thinking about others.  

I went on to my meeting, which seemed so important as I left my car, but which now felt secondary to the many little meetings I just had as I walked from my car.  I belong to a community.  Somebody, lots of somebodies, are looking out for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Behind God's Back

Hundreds of copies of a newly published book were distributed on a Saturday afternoon in March to residents of Cainhoy, Wando and Huger in lower Berkeley County, near Daniel Island. The author was there to sign copies of the book, and the British Broadcasting Company was there to report on it. What I saw as I left the book-signing at the old Keith School (site of a Black neighborhood school pre-integration, now a community center) was as touching as it was stunning. In the parking lot, people stayed in their cars, reading the book. Along Clements Ferry Road, people sat on their front steps, reading the book. At the fire station, firefighters were in folding chairs in the front yard, reading the book. At a church near the entry to 526, a woman walked inside to services, holding the book.

"Everyone said when you live ‘behind God’s back’ you live way out," said author Herb Frazier in a recent interview. "And this was way out, even though it wasn’t that far from Charleston. Daniel Island, as the crow flies, is three miles from Charleston. Cainhoy is about 12. But it took a long way around to get there because there was no direct route by road."

That is, not until recently, with the development of Daniel Island and access to it via Interstate 526.

Herb’s book, Behind God’s Back, was published last month, funded by the Foundation’s Wando-Huger Community Fund, to tell stories going back hundreds of years of the residents of dozens of neighborhoods that have surround Daniel Island for generations.

People in these parts knew about the book, because scores of them were interviewed as Herb did his research. But they were astonished at the result when those interviews and the material Herb found – from Charleston to the Library of Congress to Chicago and New York – were all put together in one brilliantly conceived and written history of the area.

Two good things are sure to result from this book. Families who have lived here for generations (“Bin Yah’s”) will know that the importance of their lives and those of their forebears is respected. And newcomers to the area (“Come Yah’s”) will have a deeper understanding of those they now call neighbors.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gas for the car

Our Board doesn’t recommend where most of our discretionary grant dollars go. Community volunteers do, and then our Board approves them.

 Some Committee volunteers say, “We need to invest these grant dollars in organizations that can prove to us that they’re effective. If they can’t develop the discipline to learn to sell the value of what they do, they don’t deserve support.”

 Others say, “Organizations with proven track records already have a donor base. We need to invest our money in start-up organizations with no track record, but with strong potential to build one by filling a void in services.”

 Still others say, “We’ve got applications from groups in underserved areas that are run by volunteers, and that don’t know “inputs” from “outcomes” and “goals” from “strategies”, but they’ve got 60 kids coming to after-school programs every day, out of harm’s way; or they’re delivering meals to 90 home-bound elderly every day; or they’re taking people on trips to educational and cultural experiences they’d never ever get in Greenacres, SC. I don’t want to say to them, “Prove to us the value of that safe, secure place for your children”, “Prove to us how much that hungry senior benefited from those lunches”, or “Prove to us the value of those trips to County Parks and museums”.

Each of the voices above is equally respected at the table where grant recommendations are developed. The result is that established programs, start-up programs and grassroots programs all end up sharing in the grants pool. Interestingly, when we collect end-of-grant information a year later, the success rate is pretty much the same among all types of applicants. That success rate has been at about 98% in all the years we’ve been doing this. We attribute that to two main things: First, our “community-based” committees of citizens, chosen with more care than a jury pool, and second, our practice of doing in-person visits to applicants, where Committee members and staff learn more about an organization’s importance and potential than they possibly could from the words on a written application.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Different Perspectives

I was sharing a pizza with Elizabeth McKeever, the Griffith/Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year, and Karen Ann Myers from Redux at lunch today. I had one of those moments when you realize that you are an outsider looking in. Karen had just explained to Elizabeth what Elizabeth’s award-winning triptych “Different Perspectives” meant. The patina on the left most panel of the three and the glassy look of the image there, the chaos in the middle, and the crisp primary colors of the modern port scene on the right panel were explained. I was thinking that Karen had some gall to explain to the artist what the artist’s own work meant.

Boy, was I wrong.

Karen said that the central focus of the left-most panel was a church steeple, rendering the edges of the panel in soft focus, which transitioned nicely to the center panel’s abstractions. From there it is a small step to the modern, and right-most image of the all-business port scene. Right and left became left-wing and right-wing. Church became soft like family, friends, and community. Port became right-leaning, hard-edged business and red state Republicanism.

Just as I was expecting Elizabeth, the artist, to stop her, Elizabeth smiled. She put down her slice of pizza and said “This is exactly what I have been waiting for. I retreated to landscapes for a while because I could not engage with the viewer. Now I have again, thank you.” Elizabeth went on to say “Art is not really Art until it is interpreted by the audience. Making Art is getting a reaction, an interpretation, a different perspective.

Boy did I feel dumb.

On Friday, February 11, 2011 from 5:00pm-8:00pm come make Art with Elizabeth McKeever at the first public event at the new Coastal Community Foundation Center at 635 Rutledge Avenue, Suite 201, Charleston, SC 29403. Talk with her about your view of “Different Perspectives” and celebrate her award as the 2011 Griffith/Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The New Coastal Community Foundation Center

Coastal Community Foundation is moving! The new Coastal Community Foundation Center is almost finished and the staff is anxiously awaiting the January 21st move. The Center is located at 635 Rutledge Avenue, Suite 201 in downtown Charleston. Come check out the new building and help Coastal Community Foundation celebrate on February 11th from 5-8 pm at the Grand Opening Reception!