You don't often come across the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund in the news headlines, but don't be surprised— this foundation is still very active in and around Boston. The Fund recently awarded a $25,000 challenge grant to Independence House, Inc., a nonprofit that's been serving the needs of domestic abuse survivors since 1979. (Read Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund: Boston Area Grants).
However, there was a bit of a catch. In order for Independence House to cash Peabody's grant check, it had to raise an additional $25,000 from other donation sources. The organization responded by posting pleas for matching funds on its website and social media outlets. Challenge grants, also known as matching grants, are nothing new, but they are a strategic move. According to the Foundation Center, a challenge grant is “A grant that is paid only if the donee organization is able to raise additional funds from other sources. Challenge grants are often used to stimulate giving from other donors.”
Challenge grants have been particular popular in recent years among philanthropic foundations with modest assets. Peabody tends to award between $5 million and $8 million in grants each year. In many communities, foundation boards seek out match commitments from wealthy individual donors who quickly chip away at the remaining balance.
Independence House provides the community with resources for domestic violence, rape crisis care, court advocacy, hotline service, teen counseling, and childcare. In a recent interview with Province Community Television, Executive Director, Lysetta Hurge Putnam, describes the types of people and situations who can benefit from the services of her Cape Cod nonprofit.
Peabody's challenge grant is meant to go towards much needed capital improvements at Independence House. It appears that donations are still being accepted, which leads me to believe that the organization has not yet been able to fully raise its additional $25,000. Who will step up to the challenge for the sake of Massachusetts' most vulnerable citizens?