It's definitely the golf pros in the limelight during John Deere Classic week, but new signage is helping shine some of that light toward dozens of the Quad-City charities that benefit from the annual tournament.
Known as Charity Spotlight, the four full-color billboards line the highly-traveled cart path between TPC Deere Run's ninth green and the clubhouse. Each billboard features about a dozen of the 500-plus charities who raise funds through JDC's Birdies for Charity program. Each individual charity shared their mission, work and a photograph for their own individual spotlight. Each promotion also includes an QCR Code that allows a spectator to donate directly to the charity through Birdies.
The charity paid $750 to be included on the promotion with the proceeds going to Birdies' own Bonus Fund.
"The thought process was to give the charities an opportunity to tell their story more and to raise more for the Bonus Fund," said JDC Chairman Tony Carpita. He added that the tournament's leadership borrowed the idea after first seeing it at the Valero Texas Open.
Jennifer Kress, JDC's new charity development and support manager, said the boards include 46 individual signs with some charities included more than once. Most found a sponsor or an individual to pay for the sign, she said, adding that the promotion raised more than $30,000 for the Bonus Fund.
The sign was produced with assistance from Edwards Creative. Throughout the charity promotions also are facts about the Birdies program.
Also promoted prominently is the Bonus Fund, the separate fund that enables Birdies for Charity to pay out a bonus of at least 5 percent to each charity.
As part of her new job with Birdies, Kress said she is working to educate donors, especially corporations, as to how the Bonus Fund works. "This is a way to give to many charities with one check," she said.
A donation to the Bonus Fund gets divided and spread over all participating charities. Last year, Birdies distributed $12.3 million to 521 charities. That included $1 million raised for the Bonus Fund that enabled Birdies to provide each charity with a 10 percent bonus.
By bolstering the Bonus Fund, Carpita said the charities can "help us give a 10 percent bonus" again this year. "It's a win-win for everybody," he added.
Pat Shouse, a past JDC volunteer chair and the president of Trinity Foundation, and her husband Mike sponsored a sign for Friends of Trinity to be featured. Looking over the long stretch of Charity Spotlight signs, she said the new promotion "was just so important for us to do."
"Some people don't realize how many organizations the tournament impacts and this tells the story," she said.
The QCR codes also allow someone reading a sign to make a donation right there. A donor scans a particular charity's code, and is directed right to the charity's donate page on Birdies' website.
According to Kress, Charity Spotlight is expected grow to more include more charities and more billboards. "I'm anxious for the charities to come out and see it," she said, adding that then they will better "understand what Charity Spotlight is."