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Kiawah resort developer boosts charitable giving

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The sun sets over a pristine section of Kiawah Island. The resort developer in its charitable efforts gifted undeveloped acreage to a conservation group.

The chief designer of one of the most chic high-end communities in metro Charleston pledges to raise its donations to nonprofit groups by 6 percent this year, more than double the national average increase.

Kiawah Partners committed to enlarging its philanthropic gifts from 2017. The master developer of Kiawah Island donated $431,405 last year, noting that the 2018 total would surpass $450,000.

"It has always been Kiawah Partners’ mission to give back to the community that we are lucky enough to live in," says Chris Randolph, Partner of Kiawah Partners. "We are proud to not only support these causes with our monetary donations but also with our time. Our executives and employees serve on many nonprofit boards throughout the Lowcountry and donate hundreds if not thousands of hours of service to the community."

According to the developer, American corporate charitable giving is expected to increase by a 2.7 percent average this year. Kiawah Partners says the continued growth in the economy helps drive online donations. "Acting on this trend," the group is making a significant promise to the Charleston community, it says.

Kiawah Partners supports more than 70 nonprofit groups, schools, businesses and community associations. The group says the majority of charitable gifts were related to improving health and education within the Charleston region. Partnerships in 2017 include Special Olympics, Medical University of South Carolina, Chase After a Cure, The First Tee, American Heart Association and the College of Charleston.

In looking at its past philanthropic partnerships, the developers were "motivated get even more involved in the Charleston community" this year.

"As we considered our annual budget for 2018, we decided to increase our nonprofit contributions," Randolph says. “The Lowcountry is important to us, and we always want to play a role in making it better."

Along with donations, Kiawah Partners supports charitable groups by hosting charity golf tournaments at the Kiawah Island Club at no cost.

John Kresse Invitational is one of the five such tourneys the developer bankrolls each year. Held on the island in October, the event get its start via Kresse, the legendary, former College of Charleston basketball coach.

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"The College of Charleston is thankful for the extraordinary partnership with Kiawah over the last 13 years," Kresse says. "Without their generous donation of the golf course for our tournament, we would not be able to provide scholarships to hundreds of student-athletes."

The River Course at Kiawah last year hosted a number of events for charity, including:

  • Barrier Island Free Medical Clinic
  • Boy Scouts of America - Coastal Carolina Council
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • National Kidney Foundation

Kiawah Partners also granted land easements to community and environmental groups in 2017. The partnership agreed to transfer 728 acres to the Kiawah Island Community Association and the Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy totaling $5,377,000 in value. "These easements were done with preservation and protection of the natural habitat in mind," the developers note.

Kiawah Islanders are also involved in philanthropy. Island resident Terry Weaver is a co-founder of the Kiawah Women's Foundation, launched by neighbors joining together to support Lowcountry causes. The foundation started the Backpack Buddies Program on Johns Island, which Kiawah Partners has supported over the years. The program provides healthy meals to more than 290 children to take home over the weekend in a bid to combat hunger, according to the developers.

"It is refreshing to have neighbors who are also committed to philanthropy," Weaver says. "We've formed special bonds through our volunteerism. It's one of the many things that brought me to Kiawah, and makes this a more fulfilling place to live."

Kiawah Partners develops Kiawah, the 10,000-acre barrier island located 21 miles south of Charleston. With 600 employees, the company includes Kiawah Island Real Estate and The Kiawah Island Club, which oversees two golf courses, beach club, members only spa and sporting club. Hundreds of species of animals and 10 miles of pristine beach also mark the resort, developers say.


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