2014 A Record-Breaking Year for Giving Back in Charleston’s Daniel Island

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The master-planned island town community of Daniel Island has established a community-wide legacy of giving back by using its transfer fee-funded 501(c)4 Community Fund to financially assist non-profit organizations that provide services to those in need throughout the greater area. More than $1.8 million has been distributed to a variety of charitable initiatives since the Fund’s inception in 2000.

Jane Baker (center) of the Daniel Island Community Fund presents a check to representatives of the American Red Cross.

Nationally, community funds give an average of about 2% of their annual budgets to charities. The Daniel Island Community Fund gives 63%. We’re very proud of this giving record and feel it helps strengthen our community in countless ways.

The Daniel Island Community Fund (DICF), a private 501(c)4 organization that is funded by a transfer fee on all resale transactions within the master planned island town community of Daniel Island, distributed a record-breaking $447,000 in 2014 for wide-reaching programs that serve needs throughout the greater area. The amount marks a 28% increase over grants distributed in 2013, making 2014 the Fund’s most active year of giving since it was established in 2000. In total, 27 local non-profit organizations received financial assistance from the Fund last year, providing services and assistance that benefited a total of approximately 3,200 families and individuals.

Since inception, the DICF has established a unique model for giving back that has distributed a total of more than $1.8 million to support both community improvement initiatives on Daniel Island and charitable initiatives supporting its neighboring (and often under-served) communities. The Fund differs from most other transfer-fee based community funds across the country in that it uses the majority of its funds for charitable projects.

“About 40% of master planned communities in the United States have a community fund, but the vast majority of those use the funds generated to supplement the programs, operational budgets and reserves of their property owners’ associations,” says Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association and manager of the DICF, citing a study conducted by the Community Associations Institute.

“Nationally, community funds give an average of about two percent of their annual budgets to charities. The Daniel Island Community Fund gives 63 percent. We’re very proud of this giving record and feel it helps strengthen our overall community in countless ways,” Baker added.

In 2014, the DICF generated $770,000 in income. $447,000 (63%) was provided in grants to select non-profit organizations and charitable initiatives, while $204,000 (29%) was spent on community social and cultural events, and $57,692 (8%) went towards administrative and overhead costs.

The DICF focuses its charitable giving activities on initiatives that address education, human services, housing (rehabilitation and emergency repair), nature, the environment, heritage and culture, and municipal park improvements on Daniel Island and the surrounding communities of Cainhoy, Huger and Wando. Among the initiatives supported by the DICF in 2014:

  • A $26,000 grant contributing to the establishment of an after-school program serving 150 kids at Cainhoy Elementary School.
  • A $10,000 grant to support Charleston Young Life and its programs on Daniel Island for middle and high school students, including funds that allowed more than 200 area kids to take part in faith-building summer and weekend camps.
  • A $5000 grant supporting Daniel Island Animal Hospital on Wheels, a 501c3 devoted to veterinary pet care for low income families.

Other non-profit organizations benefiting from DICF assistance in 2014 include the American Red Cross, Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, Daniel Island School PTA, the Daniel Island Historical Society, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, East Cooper Land Trust, Bishop England High School Scholarships, Lowcountry Food Bank, Junior Achievement, the Palmetto Project, East Cooper Community Outreach, the Charleston Police Fund and many others.

With just a small portion of each year’s budget dedicated to community enhancements on Daniel Island proper, the DICF is careful to choose what enhancement initiatives to undertake, and often works with reputable not-for-profit organizations to most effectively implement those projects. The most significant community enhancement initiative in 2014 was a joint project with the Daniel Island Rotary Club and the City of Charleston to design and construct a Memorial Garden in the heart of downtown Daniel Island that will honor and memorialize friends and loved ones in the community.

“It’s an honor to be involved in helping our island community establish a legacy of giving back,” says Bill Stevens, a Daniel Island resident who is active with the Daniel Island Rotary Club and has served on the DICF Board of Directors for the last six years. “It’s also a pleasure because to have an organization like the Fund that is committed to helping the communities of Daniel Island and Cainhoy, that’s an enjoyable thing to do, and a very worthy thing to do.”

Non-profit organizations that serve the greater Daniel Island and Cainhoy, Wando and Huger communities can submit grant requests to the Daniel Island Community Fund by downloading the DICF grant application online at http://www.dicommunity.org/resourcecenter. Grant requests are reviewed each quarter by the DICF’s resident-led board.

About Daniel Island:
Located within the City of Charleston, Daniel Island is a 4,000-acre island master planned community featuring traditional neighborhoods, award-winning golf and tennis facilities and an outstanding collection of amenities in a self-contained island town setting. The island's downtown is home to schools, churches, medical offices, boutiques, restaurants, banks, a supermarket, two professional sports stadiums and many other attractions and conveniences. Twenty-three miles of rivers and creeks, hundreds of acres of parks, leisure trails and a private country club provide endless recreational options, and the community's central location within Charleston puts it within a 20 minute drive of the city's famous downtown historic district, area beaches and airport. A highly-desirable residential and recreational destination within Charleston, Daniel Island has been honored with numerous accolades including a prestigious “Award for Excellence” by the Urban Land Institute. The island’s development and sales activities are managed by DI Development Company.

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Julie Dombrowski
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