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Cumberland Community Foundation on GivingTuesday highlights, college scholarship deadline


In the words of its President and CEO Mary Holmes, the Cumberland Community Foundation wants to help make life better for Cumberland residents. 

The charitable foundation aims to boost philanthropy in Cumberland County, providing funding to local nonprofits that offer services to the community, and supporting the organizations as they expand their own endowment funds.

To Holmes, CCF serves as a “matchmaker,” connecting donor interests and community needs. The organization also manages dozens of college scholarship endowments, awarding over $800,000 annually to students in the southeastern part of the state. 

Two months out from “GivingTuesday” — the national 10-day charitable campaign that saw CCF raise $2.5 million last year — CityView Executive Editor Bill Horner III caught up with Holmes to get a sense of the fall giving season’s highlights, as well as the latest with upcoming scholarship deadlines and why Fayetteville is “one of the most generous” towns.

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.


You’ve likely settled from the business of “Giving Tuesday.” Can you share some highlights from this recent campaign, which is a notable part of the Foundation’s calendar?

Cumberland Community Foundation was founded in 1980 to help donors create endowments that would invest annually in the quality of life in our community and make life better here for everyone.

In 2020, we realized that very few of our local nonprofits were participating in the national movement called “GivingTuesday.” (Founded in 2012, GivingTuesday is a global day of giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving each year. Thanksgiving is followed by Black Friday, then Shop Local Saturday, then Cyber Monday… then always Giving Tuesday.)

So, we worked with CityView to create and distribute a printed catalog of local nonprofits, and then we trained the nonprofits on how to ask for GivingTuesday gifts that CCF would process for them.

Cumberland Community Foundation raises matching funds, and every year it gets bigger. It really helps our local charities support their missions.

Highlights from 2023:

  • We raised $2.5 million (compared to $2.39 million last year)
  • There were 3,700 gifts in just ten days (compared to 2,722 last year)
  • 79 nonprofits participated and most ran great campaigns
  • Participating nonprofits reported new donors, donors who increased their giving, and raising more general support
  • We loved the way civic groups participated — like the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Delta Sorority, and the CrimeStoppers
  • Participants reported receiving $324,538.67 from new donors
  • Participants reported over 925 new-to-their-organization donors
  • Participating organizations said the GivingTuesday campaign raises awareness about their mission in the community and provides crucial financial support

The CCF has deadlines approaching for a number of scholarships. Let’s start with the Robert Short Scholars program, the deadline for which is Monday, Feb. 12 and provides winners with a healthy renewable scholarship. What can you share about that?

Cumberland Community Foundation is accepting applications for the Robert H. Short Scholarship Program until Monday, Feb. 12. Over $500,000 will be awarded. This program provides last-dollar-in scholarships up to $7,500/year (up to $30,000 total for up to four years) to students from Cumberland County, N.C., who will attend any four-year nonprofit college or university. Scoring will give equal weight to 1) academic achievement, 2) community service (or work history), and 3) demonstrated financial need. Completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (www.fafsa.gov) is required as part of the application.

In 2011, the late Robert H. “Bob” Short left the Cumberland Community Foundation a $10.5 million gift in his estate. Unable to attend college himself due to the death of his father and family finances, Mr. Short made it his mission to send as many students to college annually. So far, his $10.5 million gift has paid $6,137,101 in scholarships for local students since 2011. Created as an endowment, Mr. Short’s original gift remains intact and pays out over $500,000 annually for local students. 

For more information about eligibility and how to apply, visit www.cumberlandcf.org. The program timeline is available online. 

And the deadline for 2023-24 academic year scholarships — and there are a lot of them — is later this month. What do graduating seniors need to know about those?

Yes, we have almost $300,000 to award from the Community Scholarship Endowments. These are endowments created by individual donors (often in memory of a loved one) or civic groups (like the Delta Sorority, Alpha Fraternity, and Cape Fear Kiwanis Club).

Applications will be available Feb. 19 with a due date of March 25. The timeline is available on our website.

Students must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for all need-based scholarships. The FAFSA system is experiencing delays, so students should go ahead and visit www.fafsa.gov and get started.  

We spoke last fall about Cumberland County’s giving spirit. Share more with us about why the CCF, as an entity, is a valuable resource for both donors and recipients — and why it’s a safe and effective way to share.

What we do is listen to donors and what they care about. Then, we help them decide the best fit for their “giving interest.” Some people want to support the arts. Some want to feed the hungry. Some want to help senior citizens have a better life. CCF is a matchmaker between donor interests and community needs.

Fayetteville might not be the wealthiest town but we are one of the most generous. Last year CCF received 5,866 gifts from 2025 different donors adding to $7,803,709.08.

Gifts of any size can make a difference. $20 can send a kid to summer camp for a day. Last year individual gifts ranged from $5 to $3,000,000.

Cumberland Community was founded in 1980 and we have grown to $131 million in assets. CCF is an accountable steward for philanthropic gifts. CCF is audited annually and accredited in National Standards for Community Foundations. We manage endowments according to best practices.

What’s ahead in terms of your workload, and your staff’s, for 2024?

All year long we meet one-on-one with donors who are thinking about their legacy… how they want to give back through an endowment forever. More and more people are setting up endowments to support a few favorite causes.

In March and April we will complete the selections for the scholarship awards.

In April we will be seeking gifts to send local kids to summer camp. This program is called Summertime Kids. Since 1992, we have been sending over 1,000 local children to camp.

The Scholarship Awards Reception is on May 23 at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. It is always so inspiring to see the scholarship students meet the donors who made their award possible.

On May 30, 2024, the Women’s Giving Circle will have its annual meeting where they celebrate their grant awards with their grantees.

And the Summertime Kids programs run from June through August. CCF doesn’t operate them. We just raise the money. For example, we award a Summertime Kids grant to Fayetteville Urban Ministry so their Find-A-Friend students can go to Camp Rockfish.

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