COLUMBIA – The Boyd Foundation of Columbia, which donates more than $6.5 million annually, has grown into a prominent philanthropic force in the capital.
The Foundation leverages generous donations to fund projects that increase Columbians’ use of the city’s natural resources, open up outdoor recreation and community gathering spaces, as well as the long-held ambition of city leaders. List the things to be completed.
“We don’t want to get lost in the crowd; we want to be more people,” said George Bailey, president of the foundation.
The group is behind such major landmarks as Boyd Plaza, outside the Columbia Museum of Art on Main Street; a new greenhouse at the historic Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens; An island wildlife refuge at the confluence of the Congaree, Broad and Saluda rivers to name a few.
“These are legacy gifts to our community,” said Della Watkins, executive director of the art museum. “They give locally and they give significantly, and when they give, it’s good, it’s done right.”
The Boyd Foundation It was founded in 2010 by the late Columbia developer and businessman Darnal “Donnie” Boyd, along with his wife, Susan. Boyd is behind developments like the Wildewood neighborhood in northeast Columbia.
Mike Dawson, executive director of the River Alliance, remembers the same year Boyds sought to encourage public use of the Columbia’s three rivers. He told them an island not far from the Salda Riverwalk.
“Donnie was an Eagle Scout and Susan was a good sport, so we got in a canoe and paddled out there,” Dawson said. “They fell in love with the project.”
Donnie Boyd died before he could see the sanctuary on Boyd Island. But the family continues to push riverfront recreation, most recently by funding a footbridge over the wide river near its confluence with Saluda that connects the Salda Riverwalk to the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park.
“That thing was stuck in the mud,” said Bailey, whose wife is a member of the Boyd family.
But when the Boyd Foundation offered $3.2 million, Richland County couldn’t resist completing the project.
“That’s the kind of thing I want us to do more of,” Bailey said. “How can we use our gifts to help the city or the county or other businesses move in a positive direction for the community?”
Next, the Boyd Foundation hopes to work with the Guguinard family to create a park on the Congare River near the Vista Recreation District. It’s something Colombian politicians have long said is key to the city’s riverfront development.
Mayor Daniel Rickenman said there are not enough thanks to give to the Boyd family.
“They took the family they raised and are giving in ways most of us can’t imagine. “They do this for things that will last a lifetime, not for things that are short-term,” he said.
The Boyd Foundation’s giving stands out in many other ways. First of all, the foundation chooses to fully fund projects, which ensures that the project is completed. Second, the team is extensively engaged in project development.
“We are involved in every step of the process, from preparing plans and issuing bids to contractors to selecting the bid,” Bailey said.
For example, when the aquarium and reptile centers at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens need a facelift. The Reptile Center was one of the zoo’s most popular attractions with over a million visitors each year.
Bailey went beyond the Boyd Foundation’s suggested improvements, asking architects, “How much would it really cost to do WOW?”
The price doubled to nearly $5 million and the foundation agreed to pay for it.
“We don’t just want mediocrity, we want something Columbia can be proud of,” Bailey said. “If Boyd’s name is going to be on it, we want it to be something we’re proud of and the city is proud of.”
It took a few years for the Boyd Foundation’s profile to grow in the community.
Early on, board members reached out to various groups in the city — Historic Columbia, Sandhills School, Heathwood Hall — and asked what was on their wish lists.
“Now people are putting two and two together,” said Mary Bond Bailey, who oversees marketing for the foundation.
When the Boyd Foundation funded the greenhouse at the Hampton-Preston Mansion, the opening coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Environmental Society’s Historic Columbia. Robin Waits, executive director of History Columbia, said there were about 1,000 pairs of eyes on the new Boyd Foundation Horticulture Center for the collaborative celebration.
“Not everyone was for the horticultural center, but because two parties came together, people got to know what the Boyd Foundation does,” Mary Bond Bailey said.
Gaining naming rights to projects they support has increased recognition.
“There’s a growing public awareness of the generosity, what the foundation has done, and they deserve all the credit we can give them,” Dawson said.
The Boyd Foundation, with its $121 million in assets, stands alongside many other family foundations in the Palmetto State. Charleston billionaire Anita Zucker owns a foundation with a fortune of more than $10 million and an annual gift of more than half a million dollars, tax records show. Financier Darla Moore has a $492 million foundation that has given $39 million, mostly to a development organization in her hometown of Lake City, recent tax filings show. And in Columbia, the Mungo family builds a nearly $25 million foundation with an annual endowment of $1.5 million.
Joanne Turnquist, who oversees the Midlands’ largest charity, the Boyd Foundation, shows the impact a family foundation can have and the asset it can be to not-for-profit organizations working in the community.
“Their giving capacity is enormous,” she says.
The Community Foundation of Central Carolina has more assets than the Boyd Foundation, with an annual endowment of more than $20 million, according to tax filings, adding up to $240 million since 1984.
But while Boyd chooses to fully fund projects, Central Carolina is a “pooled funder,” meaning organizations use the money they get from the foundation to leverage other financing.
Because the Boyd Foundation takes full responsibility for a project, the organization’s grant recipients don’t have to negotiate or take money from another budget, Turnquist said.
“When you have something done from A to Z, consulting with an organization like the Boyd Family Foundation, it’s amazing how much innovation can come from the ideas, the know-how,” she said.
Watkins, the art museum’s director, said his organization has received many grants over the years, but the museum has not had the direct involvement of those donors in the way it does with the Boyds.
“It’s important money, effort and vision, and I think that’s the difference,” she said. “They own their own projects and the development of the region.”