New funding system affects Heritage Classic Foundation's donations

tbarton@islandpacket.comSeptember 6, 2013 

The Heritage Classic Foundation contributed more to charity this year than last, but after subtracting the money it was merely passing along from other donors, the increase wasn't quite as dramatic.

The foundation that runs the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing said in a recent news release that it transferred $2.1 million to other charities in 2013, the first year its new fundraising system was in effect.

However, about $480,000 of the total came from donors who routed contributions to their favorite charities through the foundation -- arguably, money those charities would have received, anyway.

Subtract those donations, and the tournament passed along about $1.6 million, or $100,000 more than in 2012.

"The residents of South Carolina are very generous and committed to the charities they support," said Stan Smith, the foundation's charity committee chairman. "We are glad we were able to team up with them to increase contributions. We know every dollar helps."

In January, the foundation announced it would no longer award outright grants to its partner charities. Instead, the foundation pledged a 20 percent match on private donations in amounts between $1,000 and $5,000 made through a new "Champions Fore Charity" program. It also added a 20 percent match to the money it raises through the PGA Tour's long-running "Birdies for Charity" program.

Recipients participating in Champions Fore Charity were instructed to ask their donors to send their contributions to the foundation instead; the foundation then passed along those contributions, plus 20 percent, to the intended charity.

In the past, many of the nonprofit organizations that benefited from the foundation's contributions applied for grants.

The purpose of the change, which puts more of the fundraising onus on the charities, is to promote charitable giving and to "stretch" those dollars, Smith has said. The new program produced $602,500 for nonprofits across South Carolina -- about $120,500 of which came from the foundation.

Beaufort County nonprofit agencies reported mixed results from the new charitable-giving formula.

Charities that quickly mobilized their donors when the new model was unveiled in January benefited the most. In fact, some said the new procedure yielded more donations in a portion of the year than in all of the previous year, according to Island Packet interviews with several local charities.

Those whose donors typically pledge more modest amounts -- below the $1,000 threshold -- in some cases received less money than under the previous system, according to some charities.

Jean Heyduck, executive director of Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry, said her agency received less with the new formula. She said that likely is because her agency's donors were not yet familiar with the new format and she had just been hired when the changes were announced.

Nonetheless, she welcomes the changes.

"I think it's a brilliant idea," Heyduck said. "Local charities are always vying for the same dollars and there's never any guarantee you'll get the money. This behooves charities to work with their donors because that additional 20 percent can make a big difference on the bottom line, which is great."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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