Daniel Island legacy fund gives back record $447,000 to community, charitable groups in 2014

The Daniel Island Animal Hospital on Wheels, which offers care for lower income residents’ pets in the area, gets money via the island’s Community Fund (Provided).

Every time an existing home sells on Daniel Island, funds flow to such things as an afterschool program, camps and a pet clinic on wheels for low income neighbors.

The money stems from a “transfer fee” on all resale transactions in the master-planned island town, backers says. Formed in 2000, the Daniel Island Community Fund had its biggest accumulation last year as fundraising jumped 28 percent.

“Nationally, community funds give an average of about 2 percent of their annual budgets to charities. The Daniel Island Community Fund gives 63 percent,” says Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association and fund manager.

“We’re very proud of this giving record and feel it helps strengthen our overall community in countless ways,” she says.

Daniel Island established the community-wide legacy in 2000, directing transfer-fee funds to assist nonprofits that serve people in need locally.

Through the 2000s and 2010s, the fund has distributed more than $1.8 million to a variety of charities. That works out to more than $100,000 doled out a year. The organization set a record last year, passing along $447,000.

In total, 27 local nonprofits received financial assistance last year, and the assistance benefited around 3,200 families and individuals.

According to supporters, the Daniel Island fund differs from most transfer-fee based efforts nationwide because most of the money backs charitable projects.

“About 40 percent 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,” Baker says, citing a study from the Community Associations Institute.

Daniel Island Community Fund last year amassed $770,000 in income. Along with the $447,000 provided in grants to nonprofits and charitable efforts, $204,000 or 29 percent was spent on community social and cultural events and $57,692 or 8 percent went towards administrative and overhead costs, the group says.

The fund says it focuses on charitable giving that addresses education, human services, housing, nature, heritage and culture, the environment and municipal park improvements on Daniel Island and the surrounding communities of Cainhoy, Huger and Wando.

In 2014, the fund-backed “initiatives” included:

- A $26,000 grant to help establish an after-school program serving 150 kids at Cainhoy Elementary School.

- Grant money totaling $10,000 to support Charleston Young Life and programs on Daniel Island for middle and high school students. The grant resulted in more than 200 area kids taking part in “faith-building” summer and weekend camps.

- A $5,000 grant toward the Daniel Island Animal Hospital on Wheels, a not-for-profit group “devoted to veterinary pet care for low income families,” the fund says.

That’s not all. Other groups benefiting from the fund’s 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 and the Charleston Police Fund.

The fund also dedicates a portion of the budget to community enhancements on Daniel Island proper. The top drive in 2014 was a joint deal with the Daniel Island Rotary Club and city of Charleston to design and construct a Memorial Garden in downtown Daniel Island.

“It’s an honor to be involved in helping our island community establish a legacy of giving back,” Daniel Island resident Bill Stevens says. He’s active in the Daniel Island Rotary Club and has served on the community fund’s board of directors 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.”

Nonprofit groups that serve the greater Daniel Island and Cainhoy, Wando and Huger communities can submit grant requests to the Daniel Island Community Fund. The applications can be downloaded online at www.dicommunity.org/resourcecenter. Grant requests are reviewed each quarter by the fund’s resident-led board.

Daniel Island, located within the city of Charleston, describes itself as a 4,000 acre community offering traditional neighborhoods, top notch golf courses and tennis centers and a collection of amenities in an island town setting.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.