Helping Hands

03 Feb 2021

2021's nonprofit fundraising roundup

By Kat Ford

Photos by Hudon Library, HEC 

The nonprofits of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau work tirelessly to enrich quality of life and help navigate rough waters. At the same time, every nonprofit spends countless hours raising money to help fulfill its mission. Depending on the organization, this can include applying for grants, memberships, ticket sales, programming, donations, contributions, campaigns and fundraising events. Raising money means dedicated hours of planning, marketing and execution by board members, staff and volunteers. In 2020, most nonprofits were unable to fundraise with their usual events and galas. With the uncertainty of how COVID-19 will continue, many are facing a similar situation in 2021. Plateau Magazine reached out to several of our nonprofits and asked for mission, budget, fundraising efforts and events. If your heart aligns with the mission of any of these organizations, we encourage you to call or visit their websites so they can tell you more. In editing this story, I read through thousands of words describing great deeds and efforts. To paraphrase the sentiment of a better-known author in a much more famous publication- these nonprofits do many great things. If every one of them were recorded, I suppose even the whole plateau would not have room for the words that could be written.

Advance Highlands Education Committee

Hilary Wilkes,

In 2018, the Advance Highlands Education Committee (AHEC) was formed by a group of community leaders to address critical infrastructure and technology deficiencies at Highlands School. Working alongside administration and faculty, AHEC works to fund the further development of resources to help the entire student body succeed and realize their fullest potential. Since its inception, AHEC has raised over $300,000 for Highlands School. All contributions to AHEC are 100% tax-deductible and can be mailed to PO Box 2095, Highlands, NC, 28741.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cashiers and Highlands


Transforming children’s lives through mentoring and supportive services, we work to ensure every child in WNC has an enjoyable, long-term relationship with a caring adult who believes in them and sees their potential.

Annual Budget: (July-June 2021) $50,000

Fundraising: 100%

Events: Annual Croquet Tournament at Sapphire Valley Country Club: Early to mid-June 2021

Sponsors and donors come together for a croquet tournament, lunch and informational session.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake: Visit our website for more information on this creative new virtual take of our annual fundraiser, sign up by March 1, 2021.

Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic


The Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic delivers compassionate emergency, restorative and preventative dental care to people who cannot otherwise afford these critically needed services. We estimate that over 17,000 people in our serviceable counties meet the financial qualifications of the Clinic making them eligible for our services. The Clinic has performed over 66,000 procedures over 19,270 patient visits with a value exceeding $10 million.

Operating Budget: (2021) $507,900

Fundraising: (2021) Special Events: $22,500; Annual Campaign: $111,000

Events: The Clinic is not planning an in-person event for 2021, we will present a creative way for our donors to contribute to the Clinic in lieu of a special event.

Blue Ridge School Education Foundation Inc.


The Blue Ridge School Education Foundation provides supplemental resources for Blue Ridge School and Early College to expand educational experiences for children and staff in order to achieve and maintain a world-class education environment.

Annual Budget: Approx. $150,000

Fundraising: (2021) $200,000 (2020 cancellations creating a shortfall of about $60,000)

Events: Annual Nashville Songwriters' Round: August 21, 2021

Featuring Hall of Fame songwriter Mr. Rivers Rutherford and his selected fellow entertainers and songwriters and held at Trillium Links and Lake Club in Cashiers, NC.

Boys and Girls Club of The Plateau


The Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau provides after-school activities and programs to enhance the experience of children in southern Jackson County. Through use of The Boys and Girls Club's nationally proven curriculum, working parents are equipped with affordable daily after-school programming and full-day summer programming for their children.

Annual Budget: $600,000

Fundraising: (2021) Annual Fund: $400,000, Grants: $200,000, Events $0

Events: Due to possible COVID-19 restrictions, BGCP will not be making decisions on fundraising events until later in the year. Please check their website for fundraising updates or to make a donation.

Cashiers Historical Society


Through thoughtful educational platforms and preservation of the Zachary-Tolbert House, Colonel John's Cabin, the dependency and the Hampton Schoolhouse, CHS is maintaining the legacy of a historical place. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, CHS has grown to become one of the most successful preservation, civic and interpretive organizations in Western North Carolina.

Events: 24th Annual Cashiers Designer Showhouse: August 20 - September 4, 2021 
On an annual basis, leading local, regional and national interior designers grace one of Cashiers' most storied properties with a collective aesthetic vision for a must-tour showhouse. Guests enjoy special events, shopping, industry panel discussions and celebrate all things design and history.

Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society


The Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society rescues, provides compassionate care, and finds forever homes for abandoned and neglected animals, reunites lost pets with their families, and makes a positive difference in the lives of people and pets through community outreach programs including low-cost spay/neuter, rabies vaccinations, free food pet pantry, pet therapy and humane education.

 Annual Budget: $550,000

Fundraising: $550,000

Events: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for our two annual fundraisers (Pawsitively Purrfect Party at The Country Club of Sapphire Valley and Bark, Beer & Barbeque at The Farm at Old Edwards) are unknown at this time.

Center for Life Enrichment (CLE)


The Center for Life Enrichment (CLE) is a continuing education, nonprofit organization. CLE serves our community by providing educational and entertaining programs on a wide range of topics, presented by well-informed scholars from universities as well as the business world.  Students who attend a high school, college or trade school are invited to attend educational lectures at no charge.  CLE also delivers enrichment opportunities in a holistic approach by offering opportunities for life enrichment through fine culinary experiences, art & hobby workshops and travel opportunities.  

Events: CLE receives generous support to host these innovative programs to the community through membership and class attendance.  CLE is pleased to present a 2021 Program Series, for registration please visit our website:

Circles of Cashiers-Glenville


The mission of CirclesUSA, a national program with chapters across the country, is to end poverty. They serve the low-income citizens in Cashiers, Glenville and the surrounding plateau who are motivated to create a change in their lives, from “surviving to thriving,” by committing to Circles Training and partnering with a supportive Ally. Circles also aspires to change the mindset of the community at large in regards to poverty. 

Annual Budget: $60,000

Events: Circles started right before COVID-19 affected the country, and to date has not created a fundraiser. It is currently using resources from grants received.

Counseling and Psychotherapy Center of Highlands (CPCH)


Our mission is to provide counseling and psychotherapy services for adults and children on the Highlands-Cashiers plateau.  Four licensed counselors are affiliated with CPCH to provide outpatient counseling, educational workshops and group counseling.  These counselors maintain private practices and also donate up to (50%) of their fees to clients who cannot afford the full hourly fee.

Annual Budget: $50,000

Fundraising: $50,000

Give: The CPCH board raises funds to supplement therapists’ fees for clients who need fees based on a sliding scale, visit our website for more information. 

Fishes and Loaves Food Pantry, Inc.

The mission of Fishes & Loaves is to provide free food to persons in Jackson County and the surrounding area who fall below the federal poverty line based on family size and monthly income, thereby helping to alleviate hunger in our communities.

Annual Budget: (2020) $213,100

Grants/Fundraising: $213,100

Events: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fishes & Loaves will not hold their annual Big Ol’Mountain Country Breakfast in 2021 and have not made final plans for their annual Empty Bowls event. With an overwhelming response from their last food drive, future drives are anticipated. Please check their website for information about Empty Bowls, future food drives and additional ways to give directly.

Friends of the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library

Enriching the library through advocacy, fundraising and activities.  We work to obtain and provide funds which enable the library to acquire books, periodicals, equipment, digital and other materials, and supplies needed to make the library one of the most important providers of education for the communities of Cashiers, Glenville and Sapphire.

Annual Budget:  FY 2020 - 2021: $41,675

Fundraising: FY 2020 - 2021: $30,900

Events: Book Clearances: Returning in June 2021 and held over a four-day period, take a book while donating to the Friends of the Library.

Book Store: Visit our used bookstore, open during library hours, within the library facility.

Friends of Founders Park, Inc. 

Founded in 2007 for purchase and construction of a downtown green, our goal is to protect, inform and represent the park. Our mission is to generate and apply financial resources for maintenance and improvement in cooperation with the town.  In daytime, the park is used as downtown retreat for workers and visitors. Also, the facility supports events such as concerts, ice skating, arts and crafts, market days and nonprofit fundraisers.

Annual Budget: $27,000 

Events: Although some revenue is direct donations, our Low Country Shrimp Boil fundraiser provides 90% of our resources. Please visit our website for dates and times.

Friends of Panthertown


Friends of Panthertown maintains 30 miles of public trails and works in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown Valley, an American black bear sanctuary containing the pristine headwaters of the east fork of the Tuckasegee River.

Annual Budget: Approx. $100,000 (trail maintenance completed by volunteers not reflected)

Fundraising: 50% 

Events: In past years, Friends of Panthertown has held annual fundraising events during the summer and fall featuring presentations by nationally recognized speakers, knowledgeable local guides, authors and experts on the history and natural features of Panthertown. In 2021, those will likely be virtual online presentations.

Highlands Biological Foundation


Our mission is to foster research and education focused on the rich natural heritage of the Highlands Plateau, while preserving and celebrating the biological crown of the southern Appalachian Mountains. We help young campers connect to nature, provide free public youth and adult programs and events all summer long, and educate over 10,000 visitors on Highlands' natural history through the Highlands Nature Center and Botanical Garden.

 Annual budget: $300,000

Fundraising: $275,000

Events: Summer Soiree: Late July, TBD 2021

Our largest annual fundraiser held at a different home each year.

Highlands on the Half-Shell: First Sunday in October, TBD 2021

This Cajun celebration features a feast of steamed oysters, gumbo and jambalaya and is a sell out each year!

Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival


The Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival enhances the cultural life of Western North Carolina by sponsoring performances by acclaimed musicians and promoting education, outreach and audience development programs that foster an appreciation of chamber music. The Festival's regular concert series runs July 2 - August 8, 2021.

Annual Budget: $380,000

Fundraising: 18% (does not include contributions)

Events: Martinis and Mozart at Old Edwards Orchard House: July 13, 2021

A special quartet will perform Mozart in Old Edwards Farm beautiful gardens. Martinis, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Gershon/Cohn Final Concert and Dinner: August 8, 2021

Renowned violinist David Coucheron and The Eroica Trio, along with the Festival Chamber Orchestra, will perform at the lovely new venue at The Village Green Commons in Cashiers. Dinner follows at Wildcat Cliffs Country Club.

Highlands Emergency Council (HEC)


Our mission is to assist low-income residents of the Highlands area, senior citizens, young families, single parent families and disaster victims of any age. Help includes food, clothing, household goods, appliances and fuel as they are available.

Annual Budget: July 2020 - June 2021 is $45,522

Fundraising: (2020-2021) $7,000; prior years $18,000

Events: Future dates for our Bluegrass Bash and Food for Fuel fundraisers in 2021 are currently uncertain.

Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation


The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation’s (HCHF) mission is to improve the health and well-being of Cashiers, Highlands, and surrounding communities.  The Foundation recognized 2020 as an “exceptional year of need” and took the lead to protect the Plateau by funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts such as: funding 200 touch-free hand sanitizer stations across the Plateau, sponsoring FREE community COVID-19 testing in Cashiers and Highlands, funding COVID-19 testing at our three local K-12 schools, and becoming a lead partner in the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau COVID-19 Vaccination Initiative (which, at the time of publication has vaccinated over 2,500 Plateau residents).

Along with these COVID-19 protective measures, HCHF took a “leap of faith” to fully fund the opening of the new community health center: Blue Ridge Health – Highlands Cashiers, staffed by two primary care physicians and rotating medical school residents from the UNC School of Medicine.  After two years of research and listening to our community, the Foundation knows that the Blue Ridge Health – Highlands Cashiers model IS the solution to the decades long issue of a primary care physician shortage on the Plateau.

Fundraising 2021: The Foundation will focus its development efforts on building the Health and Access to Healthcare Fund and our Annual Fund.  Donating is easy – Visit to see how!

Events: Being mindful of COVID-19 and the safety restrictions that accompany this pandemic, HCHF will continue to evaluate the appropriateness of events.  Please check their website for future announcements.

Highlands Historical Society


Highlands Historical Society preserves and promotes the rich heritage of Highlands for present and generations to come. Open to the public free of charge June-October, the Historic Village welcomes visitors, both out-of-town and local residents.

Annual budget: $70,000

Fundraising: Traditionally 70% 

Events: Future dates for fundraisers in 2021 are currently uncertain, please visit our website for updates and to donate directly.

Highlands Performing Arts Center


Our mission is to provide a first class, low-cost facility for our local 501(c)(3) organizations and to promote and encourage the performing arts.

Annual Budget: $300,000

Fundraising: Approx. $155,000

Give: Donations and memberships are needed and greatly appreciated until we can get fully reopened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Membership Campaign will begin the first of March-watch your mailbox and our website! The new Highlands Performing Arts Center will begin construction late spring with a completion date of June 2022. Capital Campaign donations can also be made online.

Highlands Plateau Greenway 

Our mission is to develop a system of walking and hiking trails that protect and connect the natural settings and historic sites of the Highlands Plateau. Through this mission, we serve everyone in the Highlands community, residents and visitors alike.

Annual Budget: roughly $10,000 per year

Fundraising: Up to 25%

Events: The Kelsey Trail hike was last held in 2019 and we hope to hold this fundraising hike again in July of 2021.  Participants walk upon the historic trail and follow in the footsteps of Samual Kelsey, one of the founders of Highlands, who began working on the Kelsey Trail in 1877.

Highlands Playhouse


The Highlands Playhouse is one of the country’s oldest professional summer stock theaters. Over the years, the local ensemble began to bring in professionals and mounted sophisticated plays and musicals. In addition to offering first run movies and three to four live plays each summer, The Playhouse offers a summer camp for children with fun, hands-on exposure to the magical experience of writing and performing a play.

Annual Budget: $700,000

Fundraising: Almost half

Events: We are excited about the possibility of hosting our annual dinner/auction, Starstruck, in 2021 in addition to a patron event thanking those who helped support us during the public health crisis.

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust


Our mission is to conserve valuable natural resources for all generations. We serve all who live on and visit The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau as we protect the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and healthy habitat for all who live here.

Annual Budget: $358,000

Fundraising: 85%

Give: We currently rely on individual donations for the majority of our income rather than major fundraising events. Checks can be made out to HCLT and mailed to P.O. Box 1703, Highlands, NC 28741. To donate by credit card or to give gifts of stock and planned gifts, visit our website.

Hudson Library of Highlands, NC Inc.


Our mission is to make available to everyone the recorded knowledge of civilization and thus promote and encourage the free flow of information, the enjoyment of reading and an appreciation of the challenge of ideas. We accomplish our mission by providing for, and maintaining, the library's land, building and furniture, as well as supporting the purchase of all books, e-books, books on tape and other media.

Annual Budget: (FY 2020-2021) $120,000 

Fundraising: (FY 2020-2021) $108,000

Give:  We have two direct written appeals, at the end of June and end or November, and the year-long sales revenue from the board-and volunteer-staffed used bookstore, The Bookworm.

The International Friendship Center


Our mission is to assist people experiencing hardship and to address concerns and challenges facing the immigrants in our community by fostering understanding among all people, facilitating social and human services, and providing nutrition to the needy through the Highlands Food Pantry. We serve the immigrant, international and low-income members of Highlands and the surrounding communities. 

Annual Budget: $237,000

Fundraising: Events: 10%

Events: Empty Bowls & Christmas Barbecue

Literacy Council of Cashiers


The mission of the Literacy Council of Cashiers focuses its efforts to support and promote emergent literacy and literacy throughout the population of the community of Cashiers, NC, from birth through adulthood.

Annual Budget: About $18,000

Fundraising: About $2,000

Events: Please check our website for updates on our annual Lunch for Literacy fundraiser in July. Donations to can be mailed to: Literacy Council of Cashiers, PO Box 1398, Cashiers, NC 28717.

The Literacy & Learning Center (TL&LC)


The mission of The Literacy & Learning Center is to enrich lives and expand the knowledge of children, adults and families through diverse educational programs that advance literacy in its many forms and to promote lifelong learning, which results in an informed and empowered community. TL&LC currently serves people of all ages with literacy needs in Macon County. 

Annual Budget: $400,000

Fundraising: 33%

Events: The date for the 2021 gala is yet to be determined, please visit our website for updates on 2021 events or to give directly.

Summit Charter School Foundation


We raise money to support Summit Charter School, a tuition-free K-12 public charter school in Cashiers, NC, currently serving 239 students and 45 teachers, representing four counties.
Moët & Chandon Toast of the Trees: July 29, 2021

A VIP preview party to celebrate the inaugural Cashiers Festival of Trees. Sponsored by Moët & Chandon, it will take place at The Orchard restaurant in Cashiers. Ross Copperman, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and producer, will host the music program.

Cashiers Festival of Trees: – November 27, 2021

A multi-day, family-friendly event the weekend after Thanksgiving where guests bid on decorated trees and holiday décor, enjoy holiday performances, create children’s crafts, shop one-of-a-kind gifts and more!

The Bascom: A Center for The Visual Arts


The Bascom creates visual art experiences that inspire and empower individuals and communities through seeing, thinking and doing. The continuous goals of The Bascom’s programming are building essential creative skills for area youth and adults, increasing professional development opportunities for artists and educators and becoming a key player in the creative economy in Western North Carolina.

Fundraising: Approximately 22% of The Bascom’s annual budget

Events: 2021 dates to be determined, please visit our website for more information or to give directly.

Concert and Cuisine: A seated dinner and vocal performance by Candace Glover.

BBQ Fundraiser: A casual gathering where guests can enjoy delicious southern fare, and fellowship.


The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center


The Mountain enriches lives, fosters an appreciation of the natural world, honors the interconnectedness of all things and inspires people to build inclusive, meaningful, sustainable communities throughout their lives. In summer we host MountainCamp for youth across the Southeast to experience an enriching safe environment where campers are treated with respect, kindness and consideration, and are celebrated for their individual talents. We also offer outreach and education through our farm and nature based educational programming.

Annual Budget: Approx. $1,000,000 

Fundraising: Historically 25%, in 2020 more than 70% with limited programming and camps

Give: Visit our website to donate directly!  

Pisgah Legal Services – Plateau Poverty Law Initiative


Pisgah Legal Services (PLS) seeks to pursue justice by providing legal assistance and advocacy to help low-income people in Western North Carolina meet their basic needs and improve their lives. In early 2020, PLS’ Plateau Poverty Law Initiative began offering comprehensive civil legal services in Jackson and Macon counties. Priority areas include safety from abuse, housing and homelessness prevention, income security, and access to health care. PLS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax-deductible. PLS has earned 4 Stars from Charity Navigator, the highest rating available.

Annual Budget: $495,500

Fundraising: Grants: 40%; Annual Campaign: (Individuals, Events, Churches, Businesses) 60%

Events: Visit our website for news and upcoming virtual events.

The Village Green of Cashiers


For more than 25 years, The Village Green has served as the green heart of the mountain community of Cashiers, NC. These 13-plus acres of privately held parkland provide a gathering, recreational and event space open to the public to enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors to the area alike.

Annual Budget: $150,000

Fundraising: $125,000

Events: Joy Garden Tour: July 16 and 17, 2021

Enjoy a special patron-only dinner and garden shops with 35 vendors offering plants, garden-related merchandise, unique gifts, antiques and more. Tour exclusive, stunning private gardens in the Cashiers area with lunch included.

Warrior Survival School


Warrior Survival School is a situational and mental resiliency training nonprofit.  While primarily focusing on veterans and first responders, we also offer corporate, family and small group coaching.  Learn how to process, adapt and prevail during both minor and severe situational abnormalities.  (Due to COVID, we have expanded our training to the general public in teaching Mental Health First Aid).

Annual Budget: (2021) $35,000

Give: Our funds have come from foundations and individuals we have helped. For more information and donations, visit our website.

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