Darla Moore Speaks to Greenville Women Giving

September 12, 2015

Darla Moore speaking to GWG

Were it not for a “mere girl,” South Carolina may not have the proud history of its powerful role in creating the economic foundation for this nation. That’s according to Darla Moore, the first woman to have a major business school (at The University of South Carolina) named in her honor. That “mere girl,” as referenced by a noted historian at the turn of the century, was Eliza Lucas Pinckney. Her story was shared by Moore, who was a featured speaker of Greenville Women Giving’s (GWG) Fall Kick-off. Pinckey was credited for developing the indigo as the biggest cash crop in colonial South Carolina. That “mere girl” was also the first woman inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame.

“Isn’t such decoration many times the case when we as women accomplish something meaningful; it is designated as a woman’s achievement, notwithstanding the fact that it’s usually the men that had to be overcome to realize such accomplishment?”, Moore said. After the laughter which erupted from the men an women at the event softened, Moore went on to highlight more achievements by women.

According to the IRS, she said, 43 percent of the nation’s top wealth holders are women and that number is growing. She also said that in surveys released in 2010 and 2011, single women were more likely to give charitably than single men by a margin of 9 percent. Female heads of households were not only more likely to give but also tended to give nearly twice as much as men. So when it comes to philanthropy, “I am in really good company here in Greenville,” Moore told members of GWG.

GWG was founded in 2006 by Frances Ellison, Harriet Goldsmith and Sue Preister and has a vision to be a “powerful organization of knowledgeable women serving as catalysts for improving the quality of life in Greenville County through collective grant-making.” The organization has grown to more than 450 members from across the county and, to date, has made 79 grants to local organizations totaling $3.6 million. This year alone, GWG has provided grants to eight nonprofits totaling $541,218.

Moore, founder and chair of the Palmetto Institute, a non-profit think tank, and founder and chair of the Charleston Parks Conservancy, said she is “so impressed” with the GWG’s membership size, the amount of grants it has been able to distribute, and the democratic way in which it makes its decisions. “All of these accomplishments by mere girls”, she said.

GWG embodies the concept of “Ubuntu,” which means I am what I am because of who we all are, said Moore. They are a symbol of Ubuntu, not just because they are a collective giving group of women but because “of what is in your heart,” she said.

Moore shared stories to highlight lessons she’s learned through her years of philanthropy and how she, a woman from the rural deep South, managed to break through the corporate glass ceiling. Moore, a USC graduate who received an MBA from George Washington University, said she’d gone to New York at a time when girls weren’t allowed to play in the financial arena the way she wanted to play. Instead, she had to work with companies that were in trouble or had gone into bankruptcy. It’s what she referred to as “the dark side of the moon”. That area of the industry was also filled with Italian and Jewish people, she said. “We were all birds of a feather”, she said. In the late 80s and early 90s, the economy changed. All of a sudden businesses, airlines, oil companies, department stores were all going bankrupt and “I was the one in the country that knew how to deal with it”, Moore said. “There was all my Jewish friends, my Italian friends, and then there was me.” Not too long afterward, Moore said she became a recipient of the distinguished “Man of the Year Award”, given by the American Jewish Congress.

Moore who went on to become the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune Magazine, named to the List of the 50 Most Powerful Women in America, and who, along with Condoleeza Rice, is one of the first women members of the Augusta National Golf Club.

“We are an amazing group of mere girls,” Moore said.

GWG announced plans to do more amazing things.  Greenville Mayor Knox White, also a featured speaker at the event, said GWG wants to raise additional funds to grant $100,000 in each of the different categories — the arts, education, the environment, health, and human services — all of which are important to the people of Greenville, he said.

Article and photo by Angela Davis of

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