Momenta spoke with Charleston community leader Todd Chas about the non-profit sector in the city and the importance of supporting it.
What brought you to the non-profit sector in Charleston and how did the city and its residents help sway you to become involved with Charleston GOOD?
My first job in Charleston after moving here in 2000 was with the Community Foundation. I worked in the programs/grantmaking department, and one of my responsibilities was to maintain the database of all the organizations that applied to us for funding in our service area, which covers the eight coastal counties of South Carolina… Let me tell you: it was a great way to jump right in and get to know a bunch of great people doing amazing things in our community.
Why is the non-profit sector vital to Charleston’s future?
This is too big of a question to cover in a short answer but to put it simply, our local nonprofits provide essential services to those in need, do an amazing job of educating us all in countless ways, and serve as a constant reminder of how our world could be if we committed to collectively taking better care of each other and our environment.
What types of outreach and issues are non-profits working to solve in Charleston and why are nonprofits the perfect organizations to solve them?
Name any community issue, and you can bet there is a local nonprofit trying to address it in positive ways. At CharlestonGOOD, we really emphasize collaborating across disciplines because we feel that whether you are an artist, an environmentalist, an educator, a farmer, or an expert in equitable community development (just to name just a few examples of folks we work with!), the work you are doing is interconnected. The focus may be different, but the goals are the same. If we can break out of our “silos” of interest, we will recognize that we can be wonderful allies to one another. While the passionate dedication within the nonprofit world makes us uniquely driven to solve community problems, the traditional competitiveness (for funding, donors, volunteers, publicity, etc.) within the sector is a major obstacle to our collective success. Fortunately, the spirit of collaboration is growing here locally, so the future looks bright for local nonprofit organizations.
CharlestonGOOD works to promote non-profit and grassroots programs. Can you describe the role and value of photography and video as it relates to your mission and campaigns?
The folks and organizations we primarily serve tend to have two things in common in particular: on the plus side, they are incredibly passionate about addressing community issues. Honestly, we are inspired by them daily. On the other hand, they typically lack the organizational capacity to reach their potential. They are focused on solving community problems and too often lack the skills or the access to high-quality photography and video which is an essential component of nonprofit visual storytelling.
From your experience in working with non-profits, how will Charleston’s nonprofits benefit from hosting a Momenta photographer during our workshop?
We are so excited to be partnering with Momenta to bring this workshop to Charleston precisely because it will fill such an important need for local grassroots organizations! Whether they are used for social media posts, crowdfunding campaigns, grant applications, marketing materials, or as on-site artwork, the visuals created by workshop participants will serve our nonprofits immensely.
What advice or encouragement would you give to a photographer who is considering donating their time and images to a Charleston non-profit?
Prepare to be inspired and know that you will truly be making an impact with your participation. There are so many amazing folks here in Charleston who will benefit from your support. And some advice: start planning your follow-up trip to Charleston now because once you visit us, you’re sure to want to come back and see your new friends again.
We’re excited to be working with Charleston Good to help non-profits in the Charleston area grow and help their local citizens. Are you ready to be a part of their story? Join us today on this very special workshop by learning more here.
Todd Chas is the founder of CharlestonGOOD, a grassroots incubator, and media center that supports positive people, projects and possibilities in the South Carolina Lowcountry. He also is a co-founder of Grow Purpose, a mission-driven consulting firm that addresses social and environmental issues in empowering and effective ways, primarily through the facilitation of innovative collaborative projects.
Todd has two decades of experience helping local organizations grow sustainably. He is a professional educator, grant writer, nonprofit consultant and volunteer with a deep commitment to meaningful community development.