May 14, 2020
In the seven years that the Washington County Community Foundation has sponsored its annual day of giving, WCCF Gives, $5.3 million has been raised to support charities in Washington County. For many charities, WCCF Gives has become their primary activity to secure annual operating support. However, in 2020, WCCF Gives will likely take on an even more critical role, as this event may determine if some local charities will be able to survive.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having disastrous consequences on the charitable sector in Washington County. Arts and cultural organizations that rely heavily on admissions revenue were forced to cancel their concerts and activities. Both human services and health organizations have seen dramatic increases in the need for their services and many must provide their services in new ways that have increased costs. Many charities have implemented more technology into service delivery which has also increased costs. And most charities in our community rely on at least one fundraising event to secure operational revenue. One by one, these fundraising events are being cancelled; even the WCCF has cancelled its own fundraising banquet, which secures operational support for the Foundation.
To assist charities through this challenging time, the WCCF is announcing some changes to WCCF Gives, scheduled for September 10, 2020. These changes are being made to secure greater financial support for local charities and to provide a safer overall experience for everyone through the implementation of social distancing measures.
The first change is that donors will be encouraged to give by credit card, although checks will still be accepted.
“We realize that corporate gifts and IRA gifts may only be accomplished by check, and so we will gladly and gratefully continue to accept those contributions by check. But for donors who are able, we ask that they make their contributions via credit card on the day of giving from the safety of their own homes,” said Betsie Trew, WCCF President & CEO.
Credit card contributions can be made via wccfgives.org on September 10 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Donors still wishing to give by check, are asked to mail those checks directly to the WCCF. Participating charities are asked to encourage their donors to give by credit card and to refrain from encouraging donors to send check contributions to the charity.
The second change is that the Foundation will accept checks that are postmarked by September 10, 2020. In the past, check contributions had to be received by 8 p.m. on the day of giving, which resulted in many donors and charities hand-delivering checks to the Foundation on the days leading up to and on the day of giving.
“We greatly enjoyed the opportunities to visit with donors and charities delivering check contributions for previous days of giving,” remarked Trew. “While we will miss those social interactions this year, we know that we must limit them in this time of social distancing.”
Annually the WCCF covers approximately $25,000 per year in transactional fees for the day of giving. Although these charges are never passed on to charities, credit card companies do assess a 3% credit card fee which the WCCF was unable to cover.
The third and most significant change to the WCCF Gives event in 2020, is that the WCCF will be covering up to $50,000 in fees specifically related to credit card contributions, in addition to continuing to cover all other transactional fees. In doing so, the Foundation hopes that donors who can, will give more.
“When credit card donors are checking out on the day of giving, they will be given the opportunity to increase their gift by 3%, which hopefully will result in more money going to participating charities,” added Trew. “Getting more money to our charities is a primary objective of the changes we are implementing.”
Many credit cards offer incentive points for usage, so the Foundation is also hopeful that these incentives will further encourage donors to give generously to address the increased need this year.
Charities who wish to participate in this year’s day of giving must be registered by June 1. To be eligible to participate, the charity must have a physical presence in Washington County and be exempt from federal income tax as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, that is not a private foundation as defined in section 509(a) of the Code, and that files the Federal Form 990 annually. Complete eligibility requirements and guidelines are available at wccfgives.org.
The Foundation is working to provide a $100,000 bonus pool for the day of giving again this year. The bonus pool is distributed 50% by the contribution total and 50% by the number of donors. To be eligible for the bonus pool, the minimum gift is $25 and the maximum gift a donor may contribute to one charity is $10,000. There is no maximum amount a donor may contribute and donors may support many charities with one gift.
Last year, WCCF Gives resulted in a record-breaking $1 million in unrestricted grants to participating charities.
“With the economic downturn caused by the virus, we know that it will be a challenge to meet last year’s total,” said Trew. “But we are hopeful that these changes to the day of giving will encourage those who are able, to give more than they might have in previous years. The need in our community has never been greater.”
About the Washington County Community Foundation
The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to improve the quality of life in Washington County by promoting and facilitating philanthropy. It was one of the first community foundations in the country to be approved for the rigorous National Standards for Community Foundations and was re-accredited in 2020. It is the largest publicly-supported grant-making foundation in Washington County and cumulatively has provided approximately $17 million in grants.