Endowment Challenge Grants FAQ

Madison Community Foundation offers endowment challenge grants to nonprofits to build capacity and sustainability. This may be for a specific purpose (maintenance endowment for a computer lab), a program goal (endowing an internship or fellowship program), or for an endowment to provide general support to the organization. Grants help organizations leverage additional funds and incorporate endowment fundraising as a regular part of their ongoing development program.

What Are the Parameters?

Challenge grants are generally 1:2 challenges (Each dollar from MCF leverages two additional dollars).For instance, a $50,000 challenge grant would help leverage an additional $100,000, for a total of $150,000 in endowment growth. In rare instances, we have made $100,000 endowment challenge grants, which require a 1:3 match. Note: challenge grant eligibility begins once an organization has already established a $50,000 endowment at MCF. The MCF challenge grants help leverage matching funds above and beyond the initial $50,000. Organizations without an endowment may still apply, but must reach the $50,000 threshold before the match kicks in.

What's the Timeframe for Match Eligibility?

The challenge grant timeline is based on the applicant’s campaign planning. Generally, the timeframe is 12-18 months to raise the full match. In order to be eligible, funds must be gathered after the MCF award date and be used specifically for the endowment purpose. A written pledge is an indication of committed funds, but only cash received is eligible for the match. For instance, a three-year pledge of $10,000 per year will result in $30,000 of endowment growth. However, if the stated campaign deadline is two years, only $20,000 of the gift would be eligible as matching MCF funds.  

What Type of Funds Are Eligible?

Funds eligible for match must be new cash (rather than organizational cash on hand or in reserve). MCF can also help organizations with transfers of stock, closely held stock and real estate.

How Do I Start the Endowment Fund?

Once you have raised an initial $50,000, you can start your MCF endowment fund. E-mail Alison Helland or call her at (608) 232-1763 to fill out the paperwork. 

When Are the Matching Funds Available?

Payment schedule is determined through the grant application/approval process. Generally, MCF transfers half of our match once the organization has reached half of the challenge goal. Remaining funds are transferred once the match is 100% completed. 

I think of my legacy gift as paying it forward. What better way to enhance the future of the city that has given me such a wonderful life?"

– Jane Coleman, donor, Legacy Society member

To learn more about giving, visit our Ways to Give page.