Meet TBBCF Matching Gift Administrator

Some businesses increase workers’ fundraising goals

By KATHLEEN EDGECOMB

When Pam Watt was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, family and friends surrounded her with love and support and walked a marathon with the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation to raise money for breast cancer research.

Watt, who was in the midst of chemotherapy treatment at the time, waited at the finish line for “Pam’s Pink Posse” to arrive. That’s where she met the founders of TBBCF and was immediately drawn to them.

“They were just so kind and compassionate. I wanted to get involved,” she said during a recent interview in her office in Uncasville where she is the chief clerk of the court for the Mohegan Tribal Court.

The next year, she joined her team and walked the full marathon. She became a volunteer, and in 2010 she became the foundation’s matching gift administrator. She was named to the board of directors in 2015.

I’m organized,” she shrugged, as she flipped through color coded files with clearly marked tabs indicating companies that donate. The folders, neatly arranged on her desk contain the names of volunteers who have applied for matching grants, and paperwork to back it all up. “And I think I can help.”

Each of the 200 or so people who participate in the annual full, half, or quarter marathon fundraiser must commit to raising $500, $250 or $200 to participate. New this year is a 5K walk around Camp Harkness, and participants must raise $150. The matching grants help walkers reach their goals.

Employees can contact their human resources department to see if they participate in a matching gift program. Usually, there is a form to fill out, either online or a hardcopy, that is sent to TBBCF for verification. Checks for eligible matches are sent directly to TBBCF.

The largest donors include Bank of America, CA Technologies, Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, Glaxo Kline, ING (Trust), Merck, Mobile Foundation Inc. Pfizer Foundation, Thompson Reuters and UnitedHealth Group.

Watt said she gets annual matching donations from the National Football League. There are more than 40 businesses that have matching grant programs, she said.

“Everyone should check with their employer to see if they match,” she said. “And then let the foundation know.’

Since Watt has taken over and re-organized the matching grant arm of TBBCF, the amount of funds matched by employers has steadily increased. She collected $18,936 in 2013, and last year, she brought in $32,146. She keeps track of employers who participate in matching grant programs, and keeps careful notes on how much individuals have raised and if there is a matching donation. She tracks down all the matches she can find.

Despite the time and effort she puts into finding matching donor dollars for walkers, she and her team separately raise thousands of dollars. Every year they fall into the top five fundraisers for the foundation.

In 2009, a year after several surgeries and procedures and four months of chemotherapy, Watt walked the marathon and raised $5,000. In 2018, Pam and her posse raised about $25,000, and she contributed about $18,000 to that total. The group holds fundraisers at bars and restaurants like Arooga’s in Uncasville and Shelton, and Birdseye in New London, where she hosts an annual steak night. In 2017, the group raised $18,400, and in 2016, they raised $15,600.

“It’s not hard to raise money,” she said. She puts requests out on social media and is attentive to keeping her donors informed about her fundraising activities and reminding them that 100 percent of their donations go directly to cancer research. She sends out individual thank you notes to all her supporters.

“I tell all my people a little about what’s going on, like one year we walked in the rain,” she said. “I think that’s helpful. A lot of supporters continue to give each year.”

The Brodeur Foundation has raised about $4.4 million and awarded 44 research grants to young doctors and scientists who are trying to find a cure for breast cancer and better treatment options for those already diagnosed with the disease.

The signature fundraiser is the annual Walk Across Southeastern Connecticut, which will be held Oct. 5, 2019. To register to walk click here.

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