Our Role in the Lowcountry: A Listening Tour Update

Saint Stephen’s Sumpter Free Health Clinic provides free health care to individuals living in rural communities, serving 1,800 active patients in 2015.

Coming into my new role as President and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation, I knew the first thing I needed to do was listen. What challenges and opportunities do our stakeholders – donors, nonprofits, board members and community partners – face? What do they know about us, and what role do they see us playing in our community?

This journey has taken me up and down and across the coast, exposing me daily to the people, places and history that make this region unique. For example, I have seen Sumpter Free Health Clinic’s daily work in Berkeley County where they provide essential services to 1,800 active patients otherwise out of reach of quality medical care. Then there’s The Sustainability Institute in Charleston, combining environmental sustainability with economic development to create change across communities, and the young man in Georgetown County volunteering with Impact Ministries to rebuild homes destroyed during the October floods.
These individuals and organizations are making an impact. When I see them and listen to their stories, it reaffirms my commitment to our core work of connecting our donors with these and other like-minded individuals across our service area.
While the people and places I’ve seen vary widely, I’ve heard the same ideas about people’s expectations for Coastal Community Foundation’s role in the community: our stakeholders want us to take the lead on community issues to effect lasting, systemic change.

This is a new way of thinking about our organization’s role in the community, even for people who have known us for a while, but it wouldn’t be the first time we stepped up to meet a need. The Center For Heirs’ Property Preservation started here, the result of CCF taking the lead to create opportunities for largely rural, African American landowners. Today, we’re convening community members in Beaufort County to discuss solutions to the region’s workforce housing shortage.
I see great potential for Coastal Community Foundation to lead in the community, but the powerful thing is that we will grow this capacity only by scaling it in tandem with our core strength of best-in-class donor services and stewardship. 42 years in, we are thinking bigger picture when it comes to connecting donors with causes they are passionate about. With expanding technological capabilities and an ever increasing base of community knowledge and connections, we are better equipped than ever to serve donors.

It’s the combination of these two strengths – donor services and community leadership – that truly forms the basis of our unique role and capability to serve communities across the Lowcountry.
I look forward to sharing more of what I learn from this Listening Tour over the next few months – stay tuned.

Darrin Goss, Sr. is the President and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation.

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