It's yours for the asking
by Kathleen Pantaleo
Free money. . .that elusive dream. Impossible? Not for Virginia Tech, thanks to 511 alumni whose gifts last year amounted to nearly $1.4 million when supplemented by companies who offer the matching gift benefit to employees, employee spouses, and retirees who give to higher education.
This significant contribution to Tech's annual budget, however, does not materialize of its own accord. Company matching gifts come from the initiative of donors who seek out this benefit by filling out a form at their employer's personnel department.
This extra step benefits the university in two ways. First, your own gift is doubled or tripled or enhanced even more when your employer writes a check. Second, many companies who allocate further corporate support favor institutions whose loyal alumni request matching gifts. Ingersoll-Rand recently combined efforts with Virginia Tech employees for a $250,000 gift to the College of Engineering using its matching gift program as the catalyst for just such a two-part gift.
Here is an example of how one alumnus makes a difference with matching gifts. Meet Dennis McDonald (accounting '76), a Hokie who has a long history of obtaining company matches for his alma mater, and his family, who share his enthusiasm for the university. Dennis' wife, Deborah Stroh McDonald (biology '77), recently received her graduate degree in counseling from Virginia Tech. Their son, Matt (architecture '03), is a Marching Virginian, and their daughter, Emily, is a high school sophomore with an eye on possibly attending Virginia Tech.
Dennis has obtained matching gifts from his employer, Computer Associates International, since 1994. "Submitting the matching charitable gift form is a great way for us to triple our contribution to Tech," says Dennis. His company's matching gift program increased Dennis' last gift of $250 to the Pamplin College of Business to $750.
Dennis' gift and match entitle him to recognition at the Bronze Level of Virginia Tech's 1872 Society. "Even more importantly," Dennis says, "it makes us feel good to give something back to Tech. If I can increase what we contribute by filling out a form, that's even better." Dennis is fortunate to work for a company that believes in giving back to society. Lisa Mars, divisional senior vice-president for Computer Associates International, points out that the company "believes in allowing employees to choose how charitable giving is directed."
The impact of this increased support is felt by the university and in the lives of students as well. According to T. W. Bonham, associate dean in the Pamplin College of Business, Dennis' original gift would generously finance one-half of a $500 travel scholarship, helping to provide an undergraduate with global business experience. With the match, however, this gift can now fund an entire scholarship and half of yet another. In this case, the immediate impact is important not only to scholarship recipients, but also to the Pamplin College of Business as it strives to prepare students for the global economy.
Free money for your university through matching gifts--it's yours for the asking!
Kathleen Pantaleo is senior associate with the Office of University Development and can be reached at 800/533-1144.