Roger and Cheryl Comes fit the profile of many couples who move to the Lowcountry: They’re both retired from high-level corporate positions, they relocated from an Eastern Seaboard state, and they visited numerous towns along the coast while making their decision to relocate.
Lured by the water, the weather, the scenery and the Spanish moss, the Lowcountry “won.”
Wherever the Comeses have lived, they’ve been active in their community – serving on boards, joining civic organizations and supporting local nonprofits through their philanthropy.
The couple has always felt it’s important to give back. “It may sound trite because everybody says it, but I feel when you’ve been blessed, it’s your responsibility to share that,” Cheryl said. They are deliberate in their giving and have developed a collaborative charitable process that includes conducting thorough research.
“There are nonprofits we’ve already vetted that we’ve supported for years,” Cheryl says. However, occasionally she’ll discover an unfamiliar organization that sparks her interest. She’ll talk to people connected with the organization, conduct online research and read as much as she can.
Where Cheryl focuses on the organization itself, Roger is more in tune with how the organization fits within the broader community. His profession as a chemist made him more analytical, according to Cheryl, so his approach is more fact-based, where hers can be sparked – at least initially – by emotion. In the end, their teamwork makes for informed and personally meaningful giving decisions.
They’ve also done their research to find the right way to give. Cheryl said initially they considered creating their own foundation. But the more they researched it, the more they realized it wasn’t a good fit for them. “Too many logistics,” Roger said. “The amount of money required to start a foundation, the administrative burden and dealing with the government were all prohibitive for us.”
So they looked for alternatives and decided that working with a community foundation was their best option.
Once again they did their research and, in the end, they chose to establish a donor advised fund with Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. It was important to them to work with an organization that is connected to the local community.
And a donor advised fund “will still be here when we’re not,” Roger said. That means future generations can carry on the family tradition of giving.
Roger and Cheryl have appointed three of their grandchildren as successive advisors to their fund. Cheryl even analyzed their giving, to date, creating a report that assesses the organizations and why they support them.
Roger and Cheryl plan to share the information with their grandchildren when the time is right. She said she’s looking for some creative ways to engage them in the process now.
You can be sure it will involve some research!
Could a donor advised fund be right for you? Find out by calling Community Foundation of the Lowcountry at 843-681-9100.
Christopher Kerrigan is the CEO and president of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. cf-lowcountry.org