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A legacy of giving: The Weaver Challenge for Charities

MURRAY – A unique opportunity is available this year to 20 local nonprofit organizations who are participating in the Murray-Calloway County Community Foundation’s (MCCCF) Drs. Dick and Jan Weaver Challenge for Charities to earn matching grants for their fundraising efforts. These are no ordinary matching grants because, instead of giving the matching funds directly to the organizations, the money will go into an endowment for the organization. 

At the Weaver Challenge kick-off event in September, MCCCF Board President Harold Hurt, after acknowledging he never met Jan Weaver, painted a picture of his friend Dick Weaver, calling him an “outstanding individual,” and noted he was instrumental in getting MCCCF off the ground. When he died, he left an endowment worth more than $500,000 to the foundation.

“He loved Murray; he loved our community; he loved Murray State University,” Hurt said. “He was a strong member of our board until he died. He always had wisdom at our board meetings. Any time we were ready to bring in a new board member, he had to interview them; and he only had one question, ‘What are you going to bring to this board?’ That was a pretty hard question for a lot of people.”

Although organizational meetings began in 2010, MCCCF, which is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of West Kentucky (CFWKY), did not fully launch until 2011.

“We got started in 2011 with zero money in the bank, and I’m proud to say that we now have over $4.5 million in endowments since we started,” Hurt said. An endowment is an investment fund, started by a donor, for the benefit of a specific organization. Often, earnings are paid to the designee annually, and, because the principal is not disbursed, the fund remains in perpetuity. Endowments are designed to provide financial stability year after year to the nonprofits they support.

“These endowments are going to help the future generations of our community,” Hurt continued. “They are helping as we go along, but the real impact is going to be 20 years down the road.”

Prior to their respective deaths in 2009 and 2018, Jan and Dick Weaver established the Weaver Educational Trust, which is controlled by the Weaver family. Dick and Jan’s nephew, Lynn Weaver, reached out to Hurt and proposed, on behalf of the family, funding a “special project” for nonprofits in Calloway County but left the details of the project for the MCCCF board to decide.

“The Weaver Trust committed $60,000 to match monies that you all will, hopefully, raise,” Hurt said. “And not only have they committed for this year, they said, ‘If y’all can get this thing going good, we’ll do it next year.’ So, we’ve got a goal.”

The 20 participating nonprofit organizations are: Angels Attic, Anna Mae Owen Residential Hospice House, CASA by the Lakes, Murray-Calloway County Crimestoppers, MCCCF, HOPE Calloway, Humane Society of Calloway County, Life House, Murray Art Guild, Murray-Calloway County Senior Citizens Center, Murray Christian Fellowship, Murray Lions Club Foundation, Rotary Club of Murray, Murray Woman’s Club, Need Line, Neartown, Playhouse in the Park, Serenity Recovery, Soup for the Soul and United Way of Murray-Calloway County.

The challenge for these nonprofits is to raise $5,000 between Sept. 15 and Nov. 30. Organizations that raise at least $1,000 will receive matching grants up to $5,000, and those funds will be deposited into an endowment for that organization. The organizations get to keep the money they raise for their operational needs; only the matching funds – $1,000 to $5,000, depending on how much they raise – will go in their endowment. Many of those participating already have established endowments; for those who do not, one will be established for them.

“The great thing about this is that the match money, that’s yours for tomorrow,” CFWKY CEO Tony Watkins said at the challenge kick-off event, “because tomorrow’s gonna come; there are going to be situations with your nonprofit where you’re going to need something, and you’re going to be able to turn toward that endowment fund and have funds available to do the things you didn’t plan on – ice storms, tornados.”

“Our job as a community foundation is to come along beside you and help you with day-to-day (needs) but also to help you prepare for the future,” MCCCF board member Linda Avery said. “Thanks to the Weaver family, we have this match where you can raise (funds to cover day-to-day expenses), and then up to $5,000 is matched into your endowment.”

“All of you (who already have endowments) have mentioned at some time or another, your patrons, your supporters don’t always understand your endowment – they don’t see the value, don’t even know you have one,” said fellow board member Gale Broach Sharp. “Hopefully, this will be a way to draw more attention to that, build it up – that’s the no-brainer – and get the word out there so that you can start making that a piece of your marketing plan. This is hopefully going to be a win-win for you – raise money now, then draw attention to your endowment and really make that money grow down the road.”

There are three avenues for giving in the Weaver Challenge. All of the organizations have special events planned to coincide with the challenge, which will likely be the main fundraising sources. Fortunately, attending a function is not required to donate. Online donations can be made through MCCCF’s website, where links to each organization’s designated Weaver Challenge PayPal can be found on the home page. Donors should note that, if they want to donate to more than one organization, they will have to make individual transactions for each donation.

Donors should also note that the PayPal pages say, “Donate to Community Foundation of West Kentucky.” Avery explained to the participating nonprofits’ representatives at the Weaver Challenge Kick-Off in September that is only because the CFWKY is the umbrella organization under which MCCCF operates and its EIN (employer identification number) is the one associated with the PayPal accounts.

“I’m in the old crowd; all these young folks are digital,” Avery said. “I’ve actually done it. I was the guinea pig, so it’s not hard. If Linda can do it, anybody can!”

For those who would prefer to pay by check, there is a third way – using the donor forms printed in the Weaver Challenge brochures. All participating organizations have the brochures available; they can also be found online at mcccf.org/weaver-brochure. Taking this path, donors can make contributions to more than one organization and only write one check. Please note that any brochure donation checks should be made payable to Murray-Calloway County Community Foundation, not the organization, and put “Weaver Challenge” in the memo line.

The forms and checks can either be given directly to the organization or mailed to MCCCF at 705 South Fourth Street, Murray, Kentucky 42071. Donors can rest assured that their check will not be held until the challenge ends in November; organizations are required to turn in any checks received to MCCCF no later than the Friday of the week they were received. Upon receipt, MCCCF divvies the donations to the intended recipient(s).

An interesting aspect of this three-pronged fundraising approach is that, while the nonprofits will know how much they raised through their special event, they will not know the total amount they raised through the challenge until it is revealed at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 6, as part of the CUBS Christmas Celebration.

“On December 6th, it’s really going to be a surprise to you,” Sharp said. “You’re going to know what you collected through special events, but you’re probably not going to have any idea how many people dropped brochures off or given online. Hopefully, it will be a really nice surprise for everybody.”

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.

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