To cap off an already memorable year when Jordan Spieth won his second John Deere Classic and title sponsor John Deere extended its commitment through 2023, tournament officials announced Friday that the 2015 JDC helped raise a record $8.734 million for 488 local and regional Quad Cities charities - a stunning $2.4 million increase over last year.
The total is nearly $2 million more than the previous record of $6.79 million set in 2012, tournament officials said Friday at a news conference at John Deere World Headquarters. In addition to being the highest John Deere Classic charity total ever, it represents the fourth consecutive year in which the tournament has helped raise more than $6 million for local charities.
“Everyone associated with the John Deere Classic is extremely proud, gratified and appreciative that individual donors, companies and family foundations stepped up in a big way to make this year’s charitable contribution by far the largest in tournament history,” said John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson.
The $8.73 million total works out to $23.29 per Quad City resident, making the John Deere Classic the PGA TOUR’s top charity in per capita giving. The tournament also ranks among the top five in total charity giving on the regular TOUR.
Tournament officials also announced that all 488 charities participating in the Birdies for Charity program will receive a 10 percent bonus over and above the funds they raised, double the promised five percent.
A combination of increased tournament revenues and a John Deere Foundation matching grant of $325,000 to the Birdies for Charity Bonus Fund enabled the tournament to provide the 10 percent match for the third consecutive year, officials said.
This means a charity that raised $10,000 via the Birdies pledge program will receive an additional 10 percent, or $1,000, for a total of $11,000.
Peterson pointed to the 10 percent bonus in explaining how charitable giving spiked $2.4 million in just one year.
“Donors find the 10 percent bonus to be an extremely compelling incentive for them to make lump sum charitable donations through Birdies for Charity,” Peterson said. “With bank interest rates at one percent or less, the 10 percent bonus gets a lot of people’s attention.”
Peterson hailed the generosity of Quad City residents and tournament sponsor John Deere for the success of both the tournament and its charitable efforts.
“The people of the Quad Cities are extremely generous and are very involved in their community organizations,” Peterson said. “In addition, John Deere continues to be deeply dedicated to its historic commitment to being a strong corporate citizen. The combination is what makes the tournament and its charitable arm so successful.”
This year’s charity number brings to more than $70.18 million the total amount of charitable contributions provided to the Quad Cities community since the PGA TOUR first began its annual run in the Quad Cities in 1971.
In 2015, John Deere Classic contestants recorded 1,990 birdies during the tournament and the Wednesday pro-am. Although the minimum Birdies for Charity pledge is one cent per birdie – amounting to a contribution of $19.90 based on this year’s birdie total – many donors pledge more or give lump sum donations. Others “round up” to, say, $20.
After the news conference, officials distributed checks to charity representatives. The balance of the checks will be mailed.
Following the announcement, John Deere Classic officials were scheduled to give away a two-year lease on a Lexus NX – courtesy of Lexus of the Quad Cities – to one of five finalists who guessed the exact number of birdies recorded this year. Each of the five received a key, and the person whose key started the car won it. The winner was Richard Mohr, representing the Humane Society of Scott County.
The free Lexus NX lease program serves as an incentivize to potential donors to participate in the Birdies program. The dealership also provided courtesy cars for John Deere Classic contestants and on-course evacuation vehicles.
“Birdies for Charity is extremely grateful that Lexus of the Quad Cities has made such a strong commitment to the John Deere Classic and to the hundreds of charities we serve in the Quad Cities and neighboring communities,” said Birdies for Charity director Kristy Ketcham-Jackson. “The opportunity for Birdies for Charity donors to win a two-year lease on a Lexus NX added an extra element of fun and excitement to the pledge drive and to tournament week itself.”
The total amount donated to the charities is the result of a highly efficient three-pronged fundraising effort:
- The tournament’s Birdies for Charity program enables individuals, companies, and foundations to pledge to a charity or charities of their choice either a minimum of one cent for each birdie recorded at the tournament from Wednesday-Sunday (1,990 birdies this year) or in lump sum donations.
- Because John Deere underwrites the administrative costs of the Birdies program, 100 percent of each Birdies pledge collected goes to the core mission of the designated charities rather than to administrative, operational, or fundraising activities.
- The Bonus pool consists of tournament revenues, direct donations, the John Deere Foundation matching grant and proceeds from special events. Each year, the John Deere Classic promises a minimum bonus of five percent with the understanding that a larger bonus will be paid, if possible.
In 2015, Spieth’s victory came in a two-hole playoff. His previous victory came in 2013, at age 19, when he was the youngest player to win on Tour in 82 years.