Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s greatest strength is building relationships with those making a positive difference in the region – nonprofits, community organizations, donors and giving circles.
A giving circle is defined as “a form of participatory philanthropy by a group of individuals who form a voluntary association to donate their money or time. The group then decides how to allocate these resources to charitable organizations or community projects.”
In 2003, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry created a giving circle known as Women in Philanthropy (WIP). At that time, women’s giving circles were fairly new and the Community Foundation’s goal was to create a women-only group that would exercise the power of collective giving and be the decision makers for the grants awarded. The seven original WIP members were selected as Advisory Board members and set the group on a course of making a difference in the Lowcountry. The first grants awarded by WIP took place in 2006, with a total of $6,000 awarded to two nonprofits.
Twenty years after its inception, Women in Philanthropy is thriving. In April, WIP held a festive, well-attended 20thAnniversary Celebration at Coastal Discovery Museum. At its 2023 Spring Luncheon in May, WIP awarded an all-time high of $124,375 to six grant recipients: Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA); Beaufort County School District; Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation; Bluffton Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine (VIM); Lowcountry Autism Foundation; and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Lowcountry. The theme for this year’s grants was “Strengthening Mental Health Services for Children and Young Adults Through Age 21.”
In addition to grantmaking, Women in Philanthropy members host social events, support the arts by attending plays and exhibitions, and participate in Grants-in-Action outings.
Women in Philanthropy has built an endowment of more than $1.3 million, and has the privilege to make grants from the Dr. Juliann Bluitt Foster Memorial Fund. Dr. Foster, a WIP member for 12 years who passed away in 2019, left a generous bequest to support WIP’s future grantmaking efforts.
To date, WIP has awarded over $920,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Beaufort County. In 2023, WIP reached the 100 total grants awarded milestone and next year will reach the $1 million milestone in grant funds awarded!
To make all of this happen, WIP has a dedicated Advisory Board, several committees, and the support and encouragement provided by Community Foundation of the Lowcountry staff.
Women in Philanthropy has consistently grown year over year, and new members are always welcome. To learn more about Women in Philanthropy, visit cf-lowcountry.org/giving-circles/women-in-philanthropy-wip or contact Lisa at 843-681-9100.