Belfair, Bluffton, SC

For many private clubs and gated neighborhoods, charity begins at home

Living large, giving gratefully

Story by Leslie T. Snadowsky

A coveted address in one of the Lowcountry’s prized residential communities is the culmination of a dream – a testament to a life of hard work and an appreciation of the region’s signature sand and surf, golf courses and scenic trails. 

Private clubs and gated neighborhoods offer an abundance of amenities to their members, and several extend an opportunity for residents to explore their altruistic nature through multiple nonprofit funds, foundations and conservancies. With help from umbrella organizations like the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, which has awarded more than $100 million in grants and scholarships since 1994, many community charitable entities maximize their philanthropic reach and results.

Here are a few communities that are helping improve life both inside and outside the gates.


The Belfair 1811 Charitable Fund

Belfair is a private, active Lowcountry community located in Bluffton that features the half-mile, moss-draped Avenue of Oaks and two Tom Fazio-designed championship golf courses.

It’s also where Belfair residents can contribute to The Belfair 1811 Charitable Fund (BCF) to provide support to the more than 350 charitable organizations in Beaufort County. The fund provides an opportunity “to embrace the pride, passion and commitment of Belfair members to impact the lives of people in need in the greater Bluffton area.” The fund raises money at the Belfair Charitable Fund Golf Tournament and Auction held each fall and through an annual Season of Thanks campaign. Funds are donated to local Bluffton-area nonprofits and charity organizations that go toward aid for homeless families, food supplements, literacy programs, counseling for rape and child abuse survivors, autistic caregiver assistance, outreach to the elderly, critical legal services and medical supplies.

Overhead shot of Belfair, Bluffton, SC
Belfair offers residents a blend of natural beauty and high-end amenities, including two championship golf courses designed by Tom Fazio, a state-of-the-art fitness and sports center and a grand clubhouse that serves as the social hub of the community. ©Belfair
Belfair Charitable Fund Golf Tournament and Auction
At the 2023 Belfair Charitable Fund Golf Tournament and Auction held last October, The Belfair 1811 Charitable Fund raised money through silent auctions. The fund has raised $427,000 over the last five years. ©Bunce Atkinson

Berkeley Hall Club

Berkeley Hall Charitable Foundation

Private golf club community Berkeley Hall is located along the Okatie River and boasts two Tom Fazio golf courses and a 35,000-square-foot Jeffersonian-style clubhouse. Member-owned and operated since January 2005, Berkeley Hall is professionally managed with more than $6 million in capital reserves.

Its Berkeley Hall Charitable Foundation (BHCF) has raised $3 million for Lowcountry charities since 2008. This year BHCF awarded $472,000 in grants to fund 26 projects for 24 nonprofits that focus on delivering food, housing aid and medical care and more to those in need in Bluffton and Beaufort Counties. Each year monies raised at the annual Berkeley Hall Charity Cup signature fundraising event fund the following year’s grant cycle. 

Berkeley Hall, Bluffton, SC
Berkeley Hall is distinguished by its two world-class golf courses, both designed by the legendary Tom Fazio, offering a challenging and enjoyable experience for golfers of all skill levels. Beyond golf, Berkeley Hall provides its residents with access to a state-of-the-art fitness center, spa facilities and a spacious clubhouse that hosts a variety of dining options and social events. ©PHOTOS BY BD Creative Group
Overhead of Berkeley Hall and the golf course, nature trails and river
Surrounded by 10 miles of nature trails, the Berkeley Hall Greenway travels to Berkeley Hall’s River Park, which winds along the banks of the Okatie River.

Callawassie Island

Friends of Callawassie Island

Callawassie Island residents can participate in more than 50 active clubs and special interest groups, including ecology, fishing, gardening, golf, kayaking, photography, shooting and tennis. 

Island residents also make up the board of directors of Friends of Callawassie Island, Inc. (FOCI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides financial support to worthy organizations serving the needs of the disadvantaged and underserved residents of the surrounding Beaufort and Jasper counties. FOCI has awarded more than $1 million in grants to more than 80 local nonprofit organizations since 2001 through fundraising events including golf tournaments, yard sales, theater productions, corporate and business sponsorships and individual donations.

FOCI concentrates its efforts on organizations that support education, health and human services, hunger, literacy, housing and recreation. 

Callawassie Island SC
Callawassie Island is surrounded entirely by salt marshes and tidal creeks, with deep-water access to the Port Royal Sound via the Colleton River ©PHOTOS courtesy of the Callawassie Island Photography Club
Kayaking on Callawassie Island
Callawassie Island is an 880-acre private oasis comprised of coastline, marshes and moss-draped oaks. ©PHOTOS courtesy of the Callawassie Island Photography Club

Colleton River Club

Colleton River Charitable Fund

Colleton River Club is surrounded by water on three sides and bordered by a 1,100-acre nature preserve. Members have access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean. Amenities include Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus signature golf courses, a state-of-the-art sports & wellness complex, a junior Olympic swimming pool, a new tennis center, three bocce courts and eight cushioned pickleball courts. 

Members also help locals in need through the Colleton River Charitable Fund (CRCF). The vision of the fund is to end the cycle of generational poverty in the greater Bluffton community by giving those in need the tools and support to build a better future for themselves and their families. With a focus on hunger, housing, health and education, the CRCF raised a record $417,540 in 2023. 

Colleton River Club Golf Course at sunset
Colleton River Club is an esteemed private golf community situated in Bluffton, offering an unparalleled blend of natural beauty, luxurious amenities and exceptional golfing experiences. ©Colleton River Club

Long Cove Club

Long Cove Fund

Long Cove Club’s Pete Dye golf course is home to the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate and is one of the best private courses in the country, offering breathtaking views of the Lowcountry’s oak trees, Spanish moss, Carolina pines and saltwater marshes. While many are focused on birdies, eagles and hole-in-ones, the community’s residents are focused on health, housing, hunger and education – the four pillars of philanthropic giving fostered by the Long Cove Fund, administered through the Long Cove Fund Charitable Advisory Committee (LCFCAC).

The Long Cove Endowment Fund was created in 2003 and was the first charitable endowment fund founded by a residential community on Hilton Head Island. The Long Cove Charitable Fund was created in 2014 to better distribute donated funds to deserving, local nonprofit agencies in Beaufort and Jasper counties, with a particular focus on projects and programs serving the Hilton Head Island and Bluffton communities. 

In two decades the Long Cove Fund has awarded local charities more than $2 million in grants. Last year 460 nonprofit organizations were awarded $266,300 in grants. 

Overhead of Long Cove Club, SC - A private island community
Long Cove Club is a private island community best known for a beautiful setting, spectacular homes and warm and friendly people. ©Long Cove Club

Hampton Hall Club

Hampton Hall Charitable Fund

Calhoun Street, The Promenade and Old Town are all popular attractions that residents of Hampton Hall frequent in their Bluffton community. 

The Hampton Hall Charitable Fund (HHCF) supports the charitable interests and outreach efforts of Hampton Hall residents and assists with needs within the larger community. The board of directors and volunteers organize annual fundraising events, including the Holiday Home Tour, Game Day, a Tiffany Style Luncheon and Fashion Show and wine and craft beer tastings. Grants are awarded to local charitable organizations that focus on the needs and challenges of children, families and individuals in Beaufort and Jasper counties. 

In addition, the fund’s annual Par 3 Golf Tournament at the Hampton Hall Club raises funds to support the Beaufort Memorial Keyserling Cancer Center’s patients and their families. The HHCF also serves as a volunteer partner for Bluffton Self Help by collecting toys for children during the holidays and school supplies for local middle- and elementary-school students each fall.

Hampton Hall’s Lakeside Clubhouse
Hampton Hall’s Lakeside Clubhouse is a hub of activity for residents who join the community’s many clubs, including billiards, bocce, bridge, bunco, canasta, craft beer, euchre, history hounds and Mah Jongg. ©Hampton Hall

Hilton Head Plantation

Hilton Head Plantation Conservancy Foundation

Hilton Head Plantation is a gated community located on the north end of Hilton Head Island. Its Hilton Head Plantation Conservancy Foundation (HHPCF) is an endangered-species protection organization established in November 2002 as a nonprofit corporation to operate and maintain the Whooping Crane Pond and Cypress Conservancies in the residential enclave. The foundation’s mission is to enhance the habitat in the conservancies for plants and animals, and it plans to provide educational opportunities for visitors to the conservancies. 

While the Hilton Head Plantation Property Owners’ Association owns the Conservancies, the Foundation uses donations to maintain its facilities.

The Whooping Crane Pond Conservancy - Hilton Head Plantation
The Whooping Crane Pond Conservancy is a 137-acre wetlands conservancy that supports approximately 75 plant species and 100 wildlife species. ©Jean-Marie Cote
Whooping Crane Pond and Cypress Conservancies - Hilton Head Plantation
The Hilton Head Plantation Conservancy Foundation operates and maintains the property’s Whooping Crane Pond and Cypress Conservancies. ©John Barrett

Palmetto Dunes

Palmetto Dunes Cares

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort offers easy access to three miles of pristine beach, three signature golf courses, an 11-mile navigable lagoon system and the opportunity for residents to enjoy “giving back while building community.” It’s the Palmetto Dunes Cares’ motto, and it’s what drives the Palmetto Dunes’ charitable organization’s mission to award grants and scholarships to support local youth and enhance the natural environment in the greater Hilton Head Island and Bluffton areas through raising awareness, encouraging giving and increasing the charitable impact of all those who live, invest, work and play in the Palmetto Dunes community.

Since its inception in 2018, PD Cares has awarded more than $216,000 to local nonprofits that support local youth. In 2023 the group awarded more than $71,000, including scholarships to local high school students. Palmetto Dunes Cares is funded by donations, local events and ecotourism events that include weekly summer Turtle Trot 5ks and Turtle Talks on Palmetto Dunes’ beach (June-August) and the annual Thanksgiving Turtle Trot 5k on the beach.

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is considered one of the best golf courses in South Carolina. ©Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Palmetto Dunes Cares’ Turtle Trot 5k
During the weekly Palmetto Dunes Cares’ Turtle Trot 5k fundraising runs, hundreds of locals and visitors can directly contribute to their local community. ©Mike Ritterbeck Photography

Palmetto Bluff

Palmetto Bluff Conservancy

With 20,000 acres and 32 miles of riverfront, Palmetto Bluff offers a residential and recreational preserve enriched by wilderness and wildlife.

The Palmetto Bluff Conservancy was founded in 2003 with a mission to protect the lush maritime forests and winding tidal creeks that define the enviable geography of the Palmetto Bluff community. It maintains the areas where the May, Cooper and New rivers converge and strives to maintain its ecological and environmental integrity. It’s also the organization responsible for educating everyone involved in the development of a new piece of property, and its team works to ensure that development and natural environments coexist in harmony.

Tours, classes, workshops, programs, research and field trips are funded to educate residents and guests about their community and ecological research, and land and wildlife management are supported to sustain the pristine nature of the unique environment for generations to come.

River Road Preserve - Palmetto Bluff
Residents of Palmetto Bluff relish the opportunity to cycle through the River Road Preserve, a sprawling 130-acre sanctuary of protected maritime wilderness. Bordering the tranquil waters of the May River and the Cooper River, this preserve is a treasure trove of some of the most pristine maritime forests in the Lowcountry. ©Palmetto Bluff

Moss Creek

Moss Creek Charitable Fund

Moss Creek is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Residents enjoy community, connection and active living among multiple islands that comprise the Fording Island Nature Preserve and Blue Heron Sanctuary.

In 2018 Moss Creek community volunteers founded the Moss Creek Charitable Fund (MCCF). Its motto is “We live here; we give here.” Its mission is to encourage charitable giving by Moss Creek residents and local businesses and to provide grants to local charitable organizations in the Lowcountry, helping those with the greatest needs, especially families and children, consistent with the caring spirit of the Moss Creek community.

The fund, consisting of a Giving Fund and an Endowment Fund, is administered by a volunteer board of residents with administrative support from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. In its first five years of existence, $350,000 has been raised and granted to local charities and given to the Endowment Fund, which is growing long-term investments to create a sustaining endowment.

Moss Creek residents
Moss Creek residents say they are brought together by their mutual desire to live a nature-inspired, meaningful and casually private lifestyle. ©Moss Creek Owners Association

Sea Pines

Sea Pines Forest Preserve Foundation

The Sea Pines community’s most visible landmark is its red and white striped iconic lighthouse, but the Sea Pines Forest Preserve is the prized possession of every Sea Pines property owner. At 605 acres, it’s the largest tract of undeveloped land on Hilton Head that includes miles of walking, hiking and multi-purpose nature trails. There’s the Warner W. Plahs Wildflower Field, featuring dozens of flower varieties, freshwater lakes suitable for fishing, a bountiful bird habitat that the National Audubon Society designated as an ‘Important Bird Area’ in 1998, and a nearly 5,000-year-old Indian Shell Ring listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Sea Pines Forest Preserve Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the major responsibility of ownership, maintenance and enhancement of the Wildlife Habitat Zone. It provides maintenance and habitat improvement with funds raised through donations from visitors and residents of Sea Pines. Approximately 40,000 people visit the preserve annually.

Harbour Town Golf Links - Overhead shot of the fairway, lighthouse and water
The Sea Pines Resort’s Harbour Town Golf Links is home to the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. Since its founding in 1987, the Heritage Classic Foundation has been about more than golf, donating $52.9 million to charities in South Carolina. ©The Sea Pines Resort / Rob Tipton
Observation deck in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve
From an observation deck in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, you can view the scenery of the largest tract of undeveloped land on Hilton Head Island. ©James Hartley Smith


Wexford Foundation

Wexford is where luxury meets the Lowcountry. The exclusive waterfront community boasts an inland harbor, clubhouse, pool complex, golf, tennis and pickleball. In 2012 the Wexford Foundation was founded by residents who harnessed the power of collective giving to help the under served. The organization was dedicated to providing financial support to local healthcare, hunger, literacy, food, senior care, affordable housing and educational charities. In that first year they distributed $66,000 to 11 charities. This year the Wexford Foundation awarded more than $400,000 to 39 local charities at their annual grant awards luncheon in February. Since its inception, the organization has distributed more than $2.8 million to create positive change.

The Wexford Foundation awards both sustaining grants to local charities and major impact grants to support larger, capital projects or transformational programs. Recent major impact grants include funding to Second Helpings for a refrigerated van and a grant to Bluffton Self Help to refurbish their facility.

Overhead of Wexford on Hilton Head Island, SC, with boats, docks, house, and the waterway
Wexford’s tight-knit community shares a common goal of living life to the fullest with an array of activities and events designed to bring neighbors together. ©Moonlight Productions

Port Royal

Port Royal Community Charitable Fund

Port Royal is a private beach-front residential community on Hilton Head that encompasses more than 1,000 acres and includes more than 970 homes. Its Lowcountry residents volunteer, donate and advocate for area nonprofits working on issues that are close to their hearts, including arts and culture, health, human services, education, community development, environment and animal welfare.

Established in 2021, the Port Royal Community Charitable Fund (PRCCF) encourages and supports the charitable, caring interests of Port Royal residents; enhances the sense of community among Port Royal residents by having their own charitable fund; and, leverages resources to have a larger impact in the greater community by providing grants to help improve the lives of people in Beaufort, Hampton, Jasper and Colleton counties.

The Port Royal community of Hilton Head Island entryway
The Port Royal community of Hilton Head Island is a private beachfront residential community that encompasses more than 1,000 acres and includes more than 970 homes. ©Paul Parrick

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