John Deere Classic officials announced Monday that the 2016 John Deere Classic helped raise a record $10.5 Million for 491 local and regional Quad Cities charities, ranking it among the top three in charitable giving on the PGA TOUR.
The total is nearly $1.8 million more than the previous record of $8.73 million set in 2015, 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 fifth consecutive year in which the tournament has helped raise more than $6 million for local charities.
Tournament officials also announced that all 491 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. This means a charity that raised $10,000 via the Birdies pledge program would receive an additional $1,000.
“Everyone associated with the John Deere Classic is extremely proud 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.
This year’s charity number brings to more than $81.3 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.
The $10.5 million total works out to $28.10 for each of the Quad Cities’ 375,000 residents, making the John Deere Classic number one in per capita giving on the PGA TOUR, a distinction it has held for many years. The tournament moved to among the top three in charitable giving from among the top 10.
A combination of increased tournament revenues, direct donations to the Birdies for Charity Bonus Fund, and a John Deere Foundation matching grant of $325,000 to the Bonus Fund enabled the tournament to provide the 10 percent match for the fourth consecutive year, officials said. Moreover, Deere & Company underwrites the administrative costs of the Birdies for Charity program, including staff, thereby guaranteeing that 100 percent of every dollar donated goes directly to the donor’s designated charity.
Peterson pointed to the 10 percent bonus in explaining how charitable giving spiked $1.8 million just one year after increasing by more than $2 million. He praised the generosity of Quad City residents as well as tournament sponsor John Deere for the success of both the tournament and its charitable efforts.
“John Deere takes very seriously its historic commitment to being a good corporate citizen and that commitment really helps energize the Birdies program,” Peterson said. “And, of course, the 375,000 residents of the Quad Cities are extremely generous in terms of both their financial support and their volunteer activities. The combination makes the tournament and its charitable arm uniquely successful on the PGA TOUR and in the golf industry generally.”
In 2016, John Deere Classic contestants recorded 1,982 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 $19.82 based on this year’s birdie total – many donors pledge more or give lump sum donations. Others “round up” to, say, $20.
After Monday’s news conference, officials distributed checks to charity representatives who attended the event. New this year, three lucky charities in attendance also received an extra $1,000 each in a blind drawing. 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 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 an 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 (1,982 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 2016, Ryan Moore, 33, won the John Deere Classic by two shots, finishing at 22-under par on rounds of 65-65-65-67. It was the fifth career victory for the Tacoma, Washington native, who would go on to earn a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Moore went 2-1 in Ryder Cup play and won his Sunday singles match to clinch the winning point for the U.S. team.
The John Deere Classic, which includes Birdies for Charity, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in the John Deere Classic tournament offices at 15623 Coaltown Road, East Moline, Illinois. Since 1971, the tournament has helped raise $81.3 million for charity.