The Richard G. Tomlinson Family Fund has initiated a match challenge to help the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF) raise more funds for impacted families. The Tomlinson family will match gifts dollar-for-dollar to KZCF's Community Urgent Relief Fund up to $15,000.
Gifts, large or small, can help raise a total of $30,000 to support local nonprofits providing meals, shelter, childcare and other necessities for families and individuals impacted by COVID-19 in Kalamazoo County.
"Kalamazoo is a special place where people come together particularly in times of need," said Joanna Donnelly Dales, vice-president of Donor Relations at KZCF. "The Tomlinson family has inspired us with this challenge grant and we hope that their generosity encourages others and helps us reach our goal."
Earlier this month, KZCF activated its Community Urgent Relief Fund, in partnership with United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, to support nonprofits on the front lines during this pandemic. Since then, many donations have come in from those eager to support their community.
One of the contributions came from the Richard G. Tomlinson Family Fund, a donor advised fund held at KZCF. The fund, created by Richard Tomlinson in 1998, is now advised by his wife, Kathie, and three sons, Bill, Steve and Charlie. Charlie says Richard -- known as "pop" to his sons -- was always dedicated and disciplined about philanthropy which shaped their passion for supporting community. His father not only gave financially, but also gave his time as a board member for various organizations focused on children, the arts and healthcare. Richard passed away in January 2016.
"I had been thinking about where I could give money from pop's fund and the Community Urgent Relief Fund sounded like a great idea," says Charlie Tomlinson. According to Charlie, it took only a 10-minute phone conversation to inspire his brother to offer another $5,000 donation in addition to the $10,000 gift from the Tomlinson Family Fund.
"Pop was definitely the kind of person who didn't just talk about issues that need to be addressed -- he would come up with ideas, then execute them," Charlie says. "He was a follow-through kind of guy and a great example of someone dedicated to his community."
When making the decision to give to KZCF's Community Urgent Relief efforts, the family agreed quickly that Richard would have wanted to support this.
Charlie added, "It's about putting your dollars where they will be used well. Pops always had great trust in the Community Foundation and so do we."
Charlie hopes his father's legacy will inspire giving during this time of unprecedented community crisis.
"Pop would be a firm believer of making it happen and doing it now," Charlie says. "Nothing would be a better way to honor him and remember him. That's a big part of what I keep in mind when suggesting grants from the fund."
Update April 2, 2020: The match was met and exceeded. Read the full story here.