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Our History

Our History

Even before Eastern Carolina Community Foundation received its tax exempt status, the idea of a community foundation was circulating among community-minded citizens.

Eastern Carolina Community Foundation is the newest community foundation in South Carolina. It began to take shape in 2005, when a representative from the Coastal Community Foundation of Charleston was invited to speak to the Florence Rotary Club. Her presentation included a map revealing that nearly all of South Carolina was served by a community foundation — except for the Pee Dee area. The first audience question was “Why don’t we have a community foundation in the Pee Dee?” Her response was, “I was going to ask you the same thing. Why don’t you have a community foundation in the Pee Dee?”

Rotary Club representatives were so fired up that they met with other foundation and nonprofit representatives to find an answer for this question. In 2006, the Eastern Carolina Community Foundation was formed.

Since then, Eastern Carolina Community Foundation has established a permanent endowment to meet the changing needs of the Pee Dee … all with help from generous donors, hardworking volunteers, effective grantees, and a dedicated board and staff. ECCF is part of a national network of of over 750 community foundations that collectively pump billions into their local economies across the United States. Many of those assets have gone back into the community to help citizens of Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marlboro, Marion, and Williamsburg counties.

Here are just a few milestones from our history:

  • Eastern Carolina Community Foundation is incorporated to build permanent charitable assets for the benefit of the Pee Dee. Soon after, the Foundation received its 501(c) 3 designation from the Internal Revenue Service and begins organizing with a board of local leaders.

  • The Florence Rotary Club pledges $75,000 over three years to help cover initial operating expenses.
  • The Foundation’s Board of Trustees prepares by learning more about community foundations and developing an infrastructure. A formal announcement is issued on November 13, 2007 (PDF) launching the Foundation to receive and award charitable funds.

  • Liberty Fellowship, a statewide leadership program that seeks to inspire values-based leadership among young South Carolinians, awards the first Liberty Prize to Trip DuBard, a member of Liberty Fellowship’s inaugural Class of 2006. The award of $50,000 is used to sustain and expand his community leadership project –  Eastern Carolina Community Foundation.
  • Susan B. Bankson is named Executive Director.

  • The Foundation’s Board of Trustees establishes the Regional Enrichment Fund from unrestricted assets.
  • Harvest Hope Food Bank is awarded $10,000 from the Regional Enrichment Fund to support an Emergency Food Pantry for Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion and Marlboro Counties.
  • Whipple Marlboro Fund moves their assets to a Donor Advised Fund to benefit the residents of Marlboro County.
  • Women in Philanthropy, an affiliate giving circle, is started to maximize women’s leadership in philanthropy.
  • Fifteen nonprofit organizations request over $110,000.00 for projects in response to Women in Philanthropy’s first grant cycle. $10,000 is awarded to three projects: Mercy Medicine Clinic, Dillon County Partnership 4 Kids, and the Naomi Project.

  • Young Professionals Philanthropy, an affiliate giving circle for young business leaders in Florence, is established and awards $3,000 in grants in its inaugural year.
  • Women in Philanthropy grant awards increase to $47,000 givento eight organizations in their second annual grant cycle.
  • Pee Dee Disaster Relief Fund is created in response to tornado damage to homes in Darlington County. $3,500 is collected from regional citizens and awarded to the City of Darlington for repairs.
  • The Community Foundation closes a record year that awarded 27 grants totaling $182,350.

  • $20,000 is awarded from the Regional Enrichment Fund to two organizations whose services impact a broad range of citizens in the Pee Dee region: $10,000 to McLeod Health Foundation and $10,000 to CAREFirst Carolina Foundation.
  • Women in Philanthropy doubles its membership and awards $50,500 in grants to nine regional nonprofits.
  • Young Professionals Philanthropy increases its membership and awards $4,000 to three Florence County nonprofits.
  • Sarah Shelley is named Executive Director.
  • The Foundation moves to a dedicated office building at 154 West Evans Street in historic downtown Florence.