Nonprofit groups see spike in charitable interest through RBC Heritage

tbarton@beaufortgazette.comApril 20, 2013 

Lowcountry nonprofit groups say they have seen a spike in charitable interest under a recent change by the Heritage Classic Foundation.

In the past, the Heritage Classic Foundation -- which runs the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing -- awarded outright grants. This year, a large chunk of the foundation's charity will be contingent upon recipients raising money on their own.

The foundation will still provide some outright grants, but most of its awards will be made through the foundation's new Champions Fore Charity and current Birdies for Charity programs.

"It has really been a boon to us," said Mary Briggs, president and CEO of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, of the new Champions Fore Charity. "This year, we've seen a huge increase in giving generated by the RBC Heritage."

Under Champions Fore Charity, the foundation hopes to increase charitable dollars generated by the RBC Heritage by offering "exclusive benefits" in return for donations of $1,000 or more to nonprofit groups listed at www.heritageclassicfoundation.com. The foundation will then match donations of up to $5,000 it receives by 20 percent, with a cap of $125,000 for each charity, tournament outreach director Angie Taylor said.

For instance, if Volunteers in Medicine raises $125,000 through Champions Fore Charity and $125,000 through Birdies for Charity, the Heritage Classic Foundation would contribute $50,000

In return, those who participate in Champions Fore Charity have "the select ability" to purchase two credentials for the Heritage Champions Club for $850.

The credentials grant access to the club's hospitality tents, skyboxes and VIP parking. Donors are also recognized in the spectator guide and earn discounts on clubhouse or grounds badges, golf apparel and dining.

"The match has been very appealing to people," Briggs said, adding donors have given more than they typically have in recent years in part because of the match -- turning a $5,000 donation into a $6,000 gift that comes with tournament perks.

"Typically, we get $5,000 in grants from the Heritage Classic Foundation a year," she said. "Under Champions Fore Charity, we've already surpassed that."

David Green, director of development and operations for Osprey Village -- a neighborhood planned in Bluffton for adults with development disabilities -- said the match has helped pique donor interest.

"That's one of the things many people have said they like to hear," Green said, "so that's helped us in our cause."

People can donate year-round through Champions Fore Charity, providing them the option to "give when it's best for them," Briggs said.

Having the money flow through the foundation -- which charities receive in seven to 10 days -- also reduces some administrative costs, as the foundation handles the tax paperwork, Briggs said.

"For us, it's a win-win because we really don't have to do anything but direct people to the Heritage Classic Foundation, while getting a bigger bang for our buck," said Vera Bailey, executive director of the Pregnancy Center & Clinic of the Lowcountry.

Whether the new program translates into an increase in overall dollars given by the Heritage Classic Foundation to charities, though, remains to be seen.

The Heritage Classic Foundation donated about $1.5 million to charity last year and has given about $23 million since its inception in 1987.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom

Related content:

Heritage Classic Foundation changes its charitable giving: Jan. 18, 2013

15 Beaufort County students named Heritage Classic Foundation Scholars: April 9, 2013

Heritage Classic Foundation: Champions Fore Charity

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