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2018 Year-End Donation Challenge – Update

As we approach the holiday season, we often count our blessings. If you feel MathPath was a blessing, please donate. While donations are accepted at any time, we make our biggest effort starting on Giving Tuesday (right after Thanksgiving) and culminate with a final push on Dec 31.

This year, we prefer unrestricted gifts, which we will use like endowment, that is, put in reserves indefinitely, with earnings available to support financial aid and other financial needs. Donations of under $250 will be matched at the rate of 1.5 to 1. Donations of $250 to $5000 that are either unrestricted or designated for endowment will be matched 1-to-1.

That was the short version of what we are doing with donations this year. What follows is the long, complete version. if you have heard enough, jump to How to Donate.

Long Version. Our goal this year is to increase our reserves ("endowment"; we explain the quotes below) from which we would withdraw earnings to support the program, specifically, to increase financial aid, and to limit the growth of full tuition by funding various administrative expenses of the program so that parents don't have to pay for that aspect. We may be able this year to reach a goal we have had for many years: $1 million in reserves. In fact, the gifts to this year's campaign so far have already brought us close.

As in past years, some larger donors have pledged matching money. A group of donors, more than ever before, have each pledged at least $1000 to make a fund for matching small donations. Specifically, the first $8000 of donations < $250 will be matched, in fact matched 150%. So if you give $50, these donors will give $75 more, meaning your gift was actually worth $125.

For the second year in a row a mystery donor (we don't know who it is) has promised to match 1-to-1 "middle size" donations ($250 to $5000) for endowment, up to a total of 25K. That donor has recently informed us, in response to the information below, that he or she will also match unrestricted gifts of the same size.

We have another, even more generous mystery donor, who has given us six digit gifts for several years. This year he or she has just given us $150,000(!). So we are indeed really close to a million in reserves, even with a weak stock market. Success will depend on getting enough small and medium-size gifts.

So why endowment in quotes? Our new accountant urges us not to seek endowment funds. Why not? If you actually specify that your gift is for endowment, then the amount you give can never be spent; only growth in its value from investment can be spent. Furthermore, the money must be accounted for separately from "unrestricted" gifts, especially if you also specify a purpose. We must show that any spent earnings were spent on that purpose.

In fact, if you give us an unrestricted gift, we fully intend to use it like endowment (a "quasi-endowment") - saving the principal and enough of the earnings so that the gift maintains its worth in inflation adjusted dollars ad infinitum. That way future generations of MathPathers will have an equal worth of endowment supporting them through additional earnings.

Further, if you make your gift unrestricted, we have additional flexibility in case an unusual opportunity or a disaster comes our way. It's hard to imagine what opportunity might arise requiring a large expenditure, but maybe in the future some expensive software would really help running MathPath, or maybe some college will offer us a permanent home if we buy a building from them, and maybe this would be attractive. Unfortunately, costly disasters are easier to imagine (though probably no more likely). A natural disaster or medical pandemic might cause our host to cancel us some year at the last moment, causing families to want their money back even though our hosts probably won't give us our money back.

A more likely scenario is a large increase in student financial need one year which could be met if we dipped slightly into the principal of gifts. With a quasi endowment we could do that, as well as have less complicated accounting requirements.

Any donation that is unrestricted, either as to purpose or time of expenditure, will this year be used for the quasi endowment. Any donation for which nothing is said one way or the other about whether it is restricted will be regarded as unrestricted. As noted above, our mystery donor who only matched endowment funds has now written to us to say he or she will now match unrestricted funds as well.

So you have several options. If you like our plans make your gift unrestricted. If, however, you don't want to give us extra flexibility, then designate your gift for endowment. On the other hand, if you want your money spent this year (we have already been given money for a one-time scholarship to be given this year) say so and it won't go into the quasi-endowment either. If you want your money to be available for spending this year you can name a purpose or just say "annual spending".

What if you have already given this year, before knowing the above?

For all donations made after the 2018 camp, matching according to the procedures above will apply.

A few closing remarks.

1) Even if you can't give directly, if you ever buy from Amazon you can give a little bit indirectly. Make your purchase through Amazon Smile. If you choose MathPath as your designated Smile charity, 0.5% of your purchase price will go to us. and if it is received fom Amazon between July 29 2018 and Dec 31 2018, it will be matched as described above. For details about how Amazon Smile works, go here

2) Gifts to MathPath are tax deductible for US taxpayers who itemize. Big contributions help most, but any amount is appreciated. The more donors we have, the more it shows that people believe in us. The Senior Staff has been especially touched by the small contributions from families who needed substantial financial aid to attend MathPath and are really stretching to give anything at all. We are pleased that matching makes their gifts worth more.

How to Donate

The number of ways to transfer money has proliferated in recent years. For making donations, we distinguish transfer methods by whether they are direct (bank to bank), whether they involve fees, how long they take and whether they allow for attaching notes to indicate who it is from and what it is for. See the list below for other things you might want to tell us in a note.

So far, we still prefer you to mail us a check. There is no fee deducted and it is easy to put a short note on the check or put a longer note in the envelope. Checks should be mailed to John Howe, at the address below. He will send a tax receipt, usually by email. Best to send him an email in advance, saying the check is coming and giving your note information (johnbhowe1@gmail.com).

MathPath
John Howe, Treasurer
63 Fairview Rd
Skillman NJ 08558

There are now many ways to do electronic transfers between your bank and ours, e.g., ACH, Zelle, Pop Money. Any of these are fine if they are prompt, don't take a cut out of what we receive and allow you to provide a note. They may or may not be available and free for you, or available for the amount of money you wish to give. Contact John Howe in advance of giving to get our account information and any advice based on our recent experience.

Finally, we have two ways to pay with PayPal. First there is the traditional way, the same way you would make a purchase on PayPal. A PayPal account is not needed; you can use your credit card. The good news is that we get your contribution immediately and there is an option to include a note. The bad news is Paypal takes a cut, 2.2% of what you give + 30 cents. This especially makes a difference for large amounts (thus we allow PayPal as an option only for donations, not for program fees).

Enter the PayPal Giving Fund. This is itself a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. You get your tax deductible contribution when you give to them, and then you "advise' them to turn around and give it to us. The good news is that PayPal does not take a cut. In fact between Giving Tuesday and Dec 31 they add an additional 1% to your gift. The bad news is there is a delay and a loss of information. We don't get your gift until a month or more later and there is no opportunity for you to include a note.

Obviously the Giving Fund is financially better, but it only works well for us if you are willing, as soon as you have donated, to send John Howe the missing information, at johnbhowe1@gmail.com. Please tell him

  1. You name and the date you gave. (The Giving Fund never tells us the date and only tells us your name if you check off a box which is easy to miss.)
  2. State whether your gift is unrestricted or specify a purpose.
  3. State whether you wish to be anonymous if we produce a webpage of donors.
  4. If you are a parent, please indicate the name and year(s) of the MathPather(s) in your family.
  5. Anything else you would like to add
If you use the Giving Fund and do not send us such an email, we will not have any instructions about how to use your gift and will assume it is unrestricted. We probably won't know who you are, either. To donate to MathPath through PayPal Giving Fund, go to

paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/1428470     (Giving Fund)

To give through traditional PayPal click the Donate button below and fill out the form that appears on screen. On the last page, the review page before you click Donate, click on Special instructions to the payee and include any information you want us to know (see the list above for ideas)

             (Traditional PayPal)

Employer Matching. Sometimes we qualify for employer matching, sometimes we don't. If your employer will support any nonprofit or any "public charity", we do. If they only support accredited academic institutions, we don't, because technically we do not run a school but rather a self-improvement conference. However, if an employer won't classify us as an educational institution, they may agree to classify us as a youth or civic organization, which is often another category they fund.

If your employer matches, they may want you to channel your part of the contribution through them. Please avoid this if you can, as it has meant a long delay (months) before we get your contribution. In any event, your employer will surely want some additional information about us, such as our EIN (tax ID) and our legal address. If you or your employer needs additional information to arrange an employer match, please contact John Howe.

Thank you!


At Thanksgiving someone asked my son Zachary what he was thankful for in 2009. He said he was most thankful for getting to go to MathPath!

Dr Greg Connor
Parent and donor



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Last updated December 12, 2018