It all started during a night of trick-or-treating through a quiet Little River neighborhood one Halloween. While the children ran from house-to-house collecting their candy, Rick Elliott walked with Rev. Daryle Bush, pastor of Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church, and Bush’s wife, Ann.
A faithful parishioner, Elliott was happy to share his Halloween and some good conversation with friends. Soon, they found themselves talking about the church and some of the financial challenges it was facing.
“When Rev. Bush told me they were in need of video and sound equipment, I immediately wanted to help,” Elliott said.
With deep roots in the North Myrtle Beach community, the Elliott family has always made giving back a priority in both life and in business. This legacy of giving began with Elliott’s father, former South Carolina state Senator Dick Elliot, who dedicated the past 50 years of his life to public service — first in the South Carolina House of Representatives and then in the State Senate. Today, Dick Elliott’s children, Rick, David and Angela, carry on the torch in their own right.
Rick is currently president of the family business, Elliott Realty, one of the most successful real estate companies in North Myrtle Beach. He has always made giving back to the community a part of his approach to business. However, Bush’s cause touched him on a personal level, and finding a way to help posed an important question: How can Elliott Realty make donations to worthy causes in the community?
Elliott turned to his tax attorney, J. Munford Scott, with Turner Padget Graham & Laney, P.A., for advice. The answer was to open a donor-advised fund with Waccamaw Community Foundation.
“The idea was so simple,” Elliott said. “Elliott Realty was already adding a $2 per reservation per night to our rental guests’ fees, so that we could support the marketing efforts of the Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach Chambers of Commerce. Munford and I thought that if we could do that, why couldn’t we take that a step further? Let’s see if our guests would add $1 to that fee, and give it back to the community.”
For the past two years, guests who stayed with Elliott Realty have been asked to add an additional $1 per night to their bill. Guests have the option to decline this charge, but Elliott said this rarely happens.
This money is added to the Elliott Realty Charitable Community Fund at Waccamaw Community Foundation, and invested so that every penny has a chance to grow and amplify Elliott’s efforts – which begs the question, how much difference can a dollar really make?
Since its creation nearly 24 months ago, upwards of $40,000 has been given to various nonprofit organizations in the Waccamaw region, including: Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church, North Strand Helping Hand, Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach, Sea Haven, North Myrtle Beach Women’s Club, North Myrtle Beach Rotary Club, American Heart Association, Women in Philanthropy and Leadership at CCU, and the North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum.
Elliott said this is exactly what he envisioned for his company’s fund.
“I want to be able to give some help to a lot of organizations in our community, rather than a lot of help to just one or two. The Elliott Realty Charitable Community Fund with WCF lets us do just that, and our employees are proud to be a part of this effort as well.”
Elliott hopes that his company’s success with giving can be an example to other businesses in the region by showing how easy it could be for them to give back, too.
“Any business can find a way to do what we’re doing here,” he explained. “It doesn’t cost you anything, and you’re making our community a better place to live in, work in and travel to. As business leaders, it is our responsibility to our communities to create programs like this that will positively impact our local areas. It has worked for Elliott Realty, and I’m confident it will work for other businesses as well.”