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Donors pledge match grant to United Way

• Oct 10, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Greater Ottawa County United Way announced last week that 14 community leaders have joined forces and pooled resources to create the Ottawa County Leadership Challenge.

This challenge grant will match dollar for dollar all new leadership gifts ($500 and up) to United Way’s 2016-17 community campaign, up to a total of $80,000.

Donors who gave at the leadership level last year can also leverage their gift by increasing it, and the amount of the increase will be matched.

In order to earn the $80,000 challenge, at least $80,000 in new and increased leadership level gifts must be raised by March 31, 2017, when the current community campaign wraps up.

United Way’s Lighthouse Leadership Circle donors are a powerful force for positive change in Ottawa County. Last year, nearly 700 leadership donors gave more than $855,000 to the community through United Way. This group’s generosity has grown every year in large part due to a unique challenge by an anonymous donor. For 13 years, the Tri-Cities Lighthouse Leadership Challenge granted up to $30,000 to the annual campaign when residents of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg became leadership donors or increased their leadership gift. United Way met and exceeded that challenge each year.

Over the 13 years, nearly $1.2 million in new and increased leadership gifts were raised in those communities. For the past two years, donors in southern Ottawa County offered an additional $30,000 challenge, which grew leadership giving in those communities by 30 percent the first year it was offered, and even more last year.

Earlier this year, the donor who created and sustained the annual Tri-Cities leadership challenge died suddenly and unexpectedly. An endowment — the Lynne Sherwood Fund for Greater Ottawa County United Way at Grand Haven Area Community Foundation — ensures that her annual gift to the campaign will continue in perpetuity. However, the gift is no longer a challenge match. In response, United Way staff met with its most generous leadership donors to see if there was enough support to launch a new challenge grant, and the support was there. A majority have made multi-year commitments to the Ottawa County Leadership Challenge to ensure that this important segment of the annual campaign continues to grow.

To learn more about leadership giving or the challenge match, contact Louann Werksma at 616-610-2661 or [email protected], or visit www.OttawaUnitedWay.org/lighthouse-leadership-circle.

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