2006-01-18 / Local News

Make a matching challenge gift that benefits your church or favorite charity

By Ron Harper Carroll County Community Foundation

Charitable gift matching programs continue to grow in popularity. For decades, large foundations used the gift matching technique to encourage giving and to leverage charitable gifts to make an even greater impact on charities. While larger foundations may have been the first to use this effective tool, corporations and individuals understand its value, too. How gift matching works

"Matching gifts" are contributions from a donor that match others' contributions to a charitable organization. Typically, the donor will offer matching funds at a predetermined amount and up to a given level.

For example, a donor may offer a dollar-for-dollar match for all gifts up to one hundred thousand dollars, effectively doubling the final gift to two hundred thousand dollars. These numbers are for illustration purposes only the concept will work at any financial level. Someone in a church might match gifts to the church's endowment fund in the Foundation up to $25,000.. Thus the $25,000 of the donor's money grows to $50,000 almost immediately to benefit a cause dear to the donor, and the persons who are making the smaller gifts that are matched feel very good about their participation as well.

This technique has gained in popularity as donors understand the value of their gifts can be increased, even doubled or tripled, for a cause they care about already. Corporations offer matching programs

Modeling what some foundations have done, companies frequently match their employees' monetary contributions to particular charities. The upward trend toward what's been termed "social responsibility" or "good corporate citizenship" has proven to grow not only charitable capacity but also the loyalty of both employees and customers. The 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study shows that eight in 10 Americans say that corporate support of causes wins their trust in that company; this represents a 21% increase since 1997. Anyone can do it

While corporations or foundations can often leverage many smaller donations into millions and even billions of dollars, individuals are effectively using the technique on a smaller scale.

The dollar amount doesn't matter. The idea is simply to encourage others to donate to the same cause you care about. "Challenge grants" are periodically offered during public radio campaigns to encourage others to give; the same can be done for any other nonprofit organization or cause.

Community foundations make it easy for individuals or nonprofits to set up a fund to help receive donations. Anyone can make a gift of a particular amount for a local charity and then offer an additional amount to match funds given by others to the same cause.

For example, a donor may contribute enough funds to save and move an historic one-room schoolhouse in danger of demolition. Understanding the project will require ongoing maintenance, the donor may pledge an additional amount to be given if and when additional funds are raised for the fund that will help sustain the building.

An individual may even establish a particular scholarship fund for nurses, teachers or adult students and then invite others to give by matching their gifts.

To learn more about matching gifts or other ways to leverage your giving, contact the Carroll County Community Foundation at 800-964-0508 or info@cfcarroll. org and ask to receive a free copy of this month's Ebooklet, Estate Planning Today - A Guide to a More Effective Plan.

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