Stories

How One Family has Changed the Greenville Community

Life-long Greenville County residents Julie and Berry Garrett have witnessed some wonderful changes made possible by philanthropy.

Berry remembers going on a school field trip to the Art Museum when it was housed in the Gassaway Mansion. Prior to their marriage, Berry had joined his father’s thriving real estate business, which developed shopping centers in the Carolinas and Georgia. Berry’s father gave unselfishly to churches, colleges, retirement communities, and other worthy causes, and set up a private foundation which still distributes funds to his special causes years after his death.

From his involvement in his father’s foundation, Berry learned the importance of creating a nest-egg to provide for the recipient organizations in perpetuity. He also learned that maintaining a private foundation is complex, requiring the services of an attorney and an accountant, correspondence with the Internal Revenue Service, and ongoing investment decisions. When the Garretts had a windfall in a stock merger, they felt it would be a good opportunity to do something more than annual gifts, or even a bigger gift to a few of their favorite charities. They set up a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) through the Community Foundation of Greenville.

“This is what is so fantastic about working with the Community Foundation—they take care of all the red tape for the donor,” Berry says. “A phone call was all it took, compared to weeks or months setting up a private foundation. A document was signed, funds were delivered and it was all done.”

Because they had been active in the Greenville philanthropic community for some years, the Garretts knew some of the nonprofits they would choose to support through their DAF. Julie has fond memories of serving as a docent for the Greenville County Art Museum when the Wyeth collection became a national treasure there. More recently, she has served as president of the Museum Association Board. Berry’s enjoyment of music strengthened his connections with the GSO, and he was honored to serve on their board for two terms.

Having a DAF made it easier for them to increase their impact by focusing their giving on a few favorite organizations. “With so many good causes requesting support, sometimes it’s hard to make those difficult decisions,” Julie says. “Now when we get those requests, we say, ‘We give through our fund with the Community Foundation.’ It’s a way to simplify one’s giving.”

The Garretts’ adult children, Margaret, Manning and Sloan, also owned shares in the stock being merged. Since they had not yet identified specific charities they wanted to support, the DAF was a good way for them to set aside funds for future giving.

Margaret, an addiction counselor, says she is grateful for the legacy of philanthropy her family has handed down though good fortune and careful choices. She is drawn to nonprofits like the Family Effect, the Julie Valentine Center, and Switch, all which address trauma and mental health issues.

“The Greenville community has done a good job of identifying needs and working toward solutions,” she says. “It’s exciting to be a part of that both at work and in giving through the Community Foundation.”

“This is what is so fantastic about working with the Community Foundation—they take care of all the red tape for the donor. A phone call was all it took, compared to weeks or months setting up a private foundation. A document was signed, funds were delivered and it was all done.”

Berry Garrett

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