Charities embrace changes in Heritage Classic Foundation giving

tbarton@islandpacket.comNovember 20, 2013 

Despite mixed results in its first year, many area nonprofit organizations say they support changes by the Heritage Classic Foundation to its charitable giving, with most saying they have received more in donations as a result.

Bluffton Self Help, for example, received about $12,000 from the foundation this year compared to about $400 the previous year, agency executive director Lili Coleman said.

"This program has been very significant for us," Coleman said Wednesday, "... and (we) are ready to get back to the office and get working, to educate donors that by giving to the Heritage Classic, they can increase the percentage coming back to Bluffton Self Help."

The foundation, which runs the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, hosted workshops Wednesday outlining its charitable programs, which put more of the fundraising onus on the charities.

In January, the foundation announced it would no longer award outright grants to 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 money raised through its long-running "Birdies for Charity."

Those programs continue, but with a new cap on the amount of matching dollars the foundation will give to charities, officials announced.

Previously, organizations could receive up to $50,000. Now, nonprofits can receive up to $30,000 by raising $150,000 through both programs.

"No one came near $150,000 last year and (the foundation) felt it appropriate to lower the matching cap" to be more realistic, foundation director of outreach and special projects Angie Taylor said.

Taylor added that the foundation reserves the right to lower the 20 percent match if tournament proceeds fall short.

The foundation hopes to increase charitable dollars generated by the RBC Heritage by offering the match and exclusive benefits in return for donations of $1,000 or more to approved nonprofits, foundation trustee Scott Richardson said.

Those who donate $1,000 or more will have the "select ability" to purchase two credentials for $1,000 that grant access to the Heritage Champions Club's hospitality tents, skyboxes and VIP parking, he said.

Richardson said Champions Fore Charity has already taken in more than $400,000 since May 1. The foundation's fundraising cycle runs from May 1 to April 30.

Charities that quickly mobilized their donors when the new model was unveiled benefited the most. Those whose donors typically pledge less than $1,000 or were confused by the new program received less under the new system in some cases, according to interviews with several charities.

The Deep Well Project, for example, received less than $5,000 from the foundation after donors pledged nearly $25,000 -- down slightly from what it received last year through a grant.

"Initially for our donors, it was a bit confusing," Deep Well executive director Betsy Doughtie said. "But things went so well last year that donors now have a better idea of how it works and how great of a deal it is, that we expect to see more donations from the Heritage."

Neither she nor other nonprofit groups represented at a morning workshop were concerned about the new cap.

"That would be a wonderful problem to have," Doughtie said of hitting the cap, "but I doubt most will come close."


Document: Heritage Classic Foundation charitable giving guidelines, 2013

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Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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