“It was important to look at our giving holistically as a family and get our charitable affairs in order. With the Community Foundation, it became a lot easier and more efficient.” - Mark Cooter
Mark and Rachel Cooter have seen firsthand the impact that philanthropy can have on individuals in a community. Their son, Sam, who has dyslexia, was a student at Camperdown Academy at its previous location, which was too small for the growing school.
It was important to the Cooters that the school have adequate facilities to accommodate and inspire both its current students and learners that would need its specialized services in the future.
“What we saw on the outside when we first came to the campus didn’t reflect the good things that were happening daily on the inside,” says Mark, who served on the academy’s board. “We really enjoyed our time with the school. It’s such a unique resource that not a lot of cities have. Greenville is lucky to have it, and we wanted to see it flourish.”
In 2015, Camperdown’s board of trustees began to plan for a new campus. Many donors, including the Cooters, participated in a five million dollar capital campaign to make it a reality. The new building, completed in August 2018, is spacious and welcoming, with a gym and library, plus plenty of room for individual learning and teacher training to reach even more students.
To manage their commitment to Camperdown Academy and other charitable giving, the Cooters set up a donor-advised fund (DAF) with the Community Foundation of Greenville. As the managing partner for the Upstate office of the Cherry Bekaert accounting firm, Mark had recommended such funds to his clients who had larger estates or who sold a business or had other large transactions in a single tax year.
“It’s something I strongly believed in personally and professionally, and a lot of my clients have benefitted from it over the years. It was time I followed through on my own advice,” he says. “I started my DAF for budgeting larger campaign pledges and discovered it was a lot easier just to have one source to fund all of our charitable contributions.”
As Mark, who currently serves on the Community Foundation’s board of directors, became more involved, he learned that some of the money it earns from DAFs goes back into the community, unlike DAFs managed by a national firm. That investment in local nonprofits is important to the Cooters.
The Community Foundation works with nonprofits and other funders to understand local needs and how they are being met.
“In December during COVID I was able to ask the management team which nonprofits could use extra help and made a contribution to a nonprofit that would not have been on my radar,” Mark says. “They knew what else was going on in the community and were able to
make great suggestions.”
The Cooters also support Mark’s alma mater, Wake Forest University, and contribute to the Cancer Society of Greenville County and Piedmont Women’s Center on behalf of his mother, who died of cancer. As their DAF grows, the couple plans to use it to educate their sons about giving. Jackson, 22, recently graduated from Appalachian State University and is working in law enforcement in Georgia. Sam, now 19, is a rising sophomore at High Point University.
Maintaining a DAF ensures that the amount they want to set aside to give on an annual basis will be available, and none of their obligations will fall through the cracks. Tracking their donation history is easier than if checks were written from the family checking account.
“We were both making pledges, and one year we both wrote checks to the same organization,” Mark says. “It was important to look at our giving holistically as a family and get our charitable affairs in order. With the Community Foundation, it became a lot easier and more efficient.”