W. W. Burgiss Charities, Inc.

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To aid and promote the causes of religion, charities, and education in Greenville County, South Carolina with special attention to the assistance of the sick, helpless, needy, and to the education of the underprivileged.

Annual application deadlines

September 15

Program areas

Human services
Public/society benefit

Types of support

The foundation prefers to focus its grantmaking on capital needs or one-time special projects, rather than ongoing programs or operating expenses.

Program limitations

Priority will be given to programs that endorse education, promote religion, and provide assistance to the poor, sick, helpless, and needy.

States served

South Carolina

Geographic limitations

Greenville County, South Carolina


Three individuals in the Greenville County, South Carolina area serve on the Board of Trustees.

Grantmaking priorities

  • Grants are made to charitable organizations that benefit the residents of Greenville County, South Carolina with a primary focus on religion, education, and assistance to the poor, sick, helpless, and needy.
  • The foundation prefers to focus its grantmaking on capital needs or one-time special projects, rather than ongoing programs or operating expenses.
  • The foundation primarily makes awards to locally headquartered organizations with local boards, rather than non-local organizations with only a local chapter.


  • To be eligible, organizations must qualify as exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • The benefits of the grant must have a measurable impact within Greenville County, South Carolina.
  • The programs and services of the applicant must be consistent with the Foundation’s mission and values.
  • All applicants must have the financial ability to sustain the funded program or project on a continuing basis.
  • Applications must be submitted through the online grant application form or alternative accessible application designed for assistive technology users.
  • If available, applicants must provide an audited financial statement for the most recent complete fiscal year. The audited financial statement must be uploaded within the online grant application form. Otherwise, please upload copies of your organization’s balance sheet and income statement for the last two years of operation, along with your organization’s budget for the current year. Please do not attach a copy of your IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.


The foundation typically does not fund requests for:

  • Annual operating funds or membership drives
  • Unrestricted endowment funds
  • Debt retirement
  • Grants to individuals
  • The same charitable organization more than once during a three-year period

Average giving

Average grant size: $10,000
Average number of grants per year: 9
Average total giving per year: $100,000

Annual application period and deadlines

Applications are accepted year-round, but must be submitted by September 15 to be reviewed at the annual grant meeting that generally occurs in October.


Applicants will receive an automated email confirming their submission. Grant decisions are usually communicated by November 30 for applications received by the deadline.

About the Foundation

William W. Burgiss (originally spelled Burgess; he changed his last name as a young man, perhaps to differentiate himself from the rest of his family) was born on a farm northwest of what became the village of Greer on August 12, 1863. By the time he was sixteen, he was working as a clerk in a local tin shop, but he was soon engaged in “commercial enterprises,” including buying and selling real estate in both Greer and Greenville.

In the early 1890s, Mr. Burgiss became interested in cotton mills. In 1894, he was one of a group of young men who chartered Victor Mill and, when it opened in 1895, he was named president. In 1900, he invested in and became president of Franklin Mill. Also, he was among the first peach growers in the Greer area.

Local leaders “lured” him to Greenville about 1905. By 1913, he had constructed the three-story Burgiss Building at the corner of North Richardson and West Coffee Streets, where he located his real estate office, on the site currently occupied by Bank of America. His real estate transactions, however, were not limited to Greenville. Even after he moved from Greer to Greenville, he continued to own substantial amounts of land both in the town of Greer and around the countryside. After 1911, he began to invest heavily in Florida real estate, especially in land in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach. Much of his increasing wealth derived from those profitable investments. By the 1920s, W. W. Burgiss was an exceptionally wealthy man. Like many of Greenville’s progressive business leaders during the prosperous early years of the decade, he turned his attention to charity and community service.

On May 2, 1925, the Greenville News announced that W. W. Burgiss had established the county’s first charitable foundation with approximately $1 million in assets, including stocks, bonds, and land in both Greer and Florida. Burgiss’s emphasis, as he made clear in his will, was to support the causes of religion, charities and education, with special attention to the assistance of the sick, helpless and needy and to the education of the underprivileged.

The first major project of Burgiss Charities was covering the cost of land and construction ($300,000) of Shriners’ Hospital for Crippled Children, which opened on Rutherford Road in 1927 and was the first integrated charitable orthopedic hospital in the South. The foundation also immediately committed $10,000 to help build a mountain camp for the YWCA, which led to the establishment of Camp Burgiss Glen.

In 1937, Mr. Burgiss moved to West Palm Beach, Florida and remained there until his death on February 8, 1945. The majority of his estate was left to Burgiss Charities.