Outer Banks Community Foundation plans relocation to Manteo, establishes nonprofit center

Published 2:39 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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At their Annual Meeting Tuesday, March 14, the Outer Banks Community Foundation (OBCF) announced plans to relocate their offices to Manteo, in the Southern Bank building on Highway 64, and establish The Outer Banks Center for Nonprofits.

The organization, celebrating four decades this year, has outgrown their beloved flat top location in Southern Shores.

Founded in 1982 by David Stick and six other Outer Banks residents including Andy Griffith, Ray White, Jack Adams, Martin Kellogg, George Crocker and Edward Greene, the Community Foundation’s mission is to help meet local needs through managing charitable funds for individuals and agencies, targeting grants and scholarships toward the community’s “most pressing needs and promising opportunities.”

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One of those needs the OBCF has identified is for flexible office space and services for nonprofits in the Outer Banks.

“It dawned on us that in the exact same way individual residences are having trouble finding suitable space for their homes, nonprofits are in the same position where finding viable commercial real estate is a challenge,” said Chris Sawin, OBCF president and CEO.

Supporting nonprofits has been a pillar of the Community Foundation since its inception, but has been a priority of the Board of Directors for the last several years.

Sawin said he could see the Community Foundation offering flex space to nonprofits sharing a space throughout the week, or to organizations for important meetings or gatherings.

“It could be a visiting artist at The Lost Colony, or a dignitary coming in that needs an office for a day. We also will have a conference room, and we hope it can be used by nonprofits who want to move their board meetings or committee meetings to different parts of Dare County. I could even see having personnel spaces that could be used among nonprofits, or a social media person that could be shared between nonprofits.”

Sawin said the Community Foundation has known since 2018 that it was outgrowing its current space. But Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed all thoughts of looking for a new space on hold. “In 2019, our work increased, our impact increased, and our staff increased … we knew we needed to find a new space.”

The Community Foundation has around $25 million in assets under management and has helped donors give back over $12 million to meet the needs on the Outer Banks for things like college scholarships, disaster relief and community resources.

They manage over 200 endowments, including unrestricted, donor-advised, designated, scholarship and field of interest funds.

Last June, OBCF found out from Southern Bank that the bank was moving the Manteo branch from its location to the building formerly occupied by Wells Fargo. “They said they would be open to working with us for their old branch office as a way of further supporting our organization,” Sawin said.

“Southern Bank has established a long reputation of being great citizens in their community. It’s legendary. Southern Bank definitely makes it a priority to serve the community in charitable ways,” he added.

According to a press release from the OBCF, the Board of Directors voted unanimously in July to “explore and support the offer made by Southern Bank,” after which the Community Foundation launched a capital campaign to raise funds for the project.

Southern Bank has offered to sell the building below market value. Additionally, Percy W. & Elizabeth G. Meekins Charitable Trust, Jane Webster Charitable Fund, Burwell A. Evans Charitable Fund and several anonymous donors have made significant contributions to the establishment of the Outer Banks Center for Nonprofits.

community foundation

Artist rendering of the Outer Banks Center for Nonprofits and new offices of Outer Banks Community Foundation. Courtesy Outer Banks Community Foundation

Southern Bank is expected to move out of the building at the end of March, after which the Community Foundation will begin to transition to their new space. Sawin said the building needs minimal renovations and is in excellent condition to meet their needs.

“It’s such a perfect thing for us,” he said.

Interestingly, the very first board meeting of the original founders in 1982 was held in downtown Manteo at the PNC Bank building. And although the board feels nostalgic for their time in Southern Shores, “For us,” Sawin said, “this is a kind of coming home.”

There are no definite plans for the future of the flat top in Southern Shores, but Sawin said there are several options and “they’re all amazing.”