Matching Donor Spotlight: Kathryn Shields

Jun 13, 2016 | Town Hall News

Kathryn Shields

Kathryn Shields

Every year over eighty Town Hall members enable matching gifts through their employers for volunteer hours and philanthropic donations, providing an additional $25,000 of revenue for Town Hall each year. We want to thank these members and volunteers for donating their time and money to Town Hall each year and for making their donations go even further by enabling corporate matching funds. We are also grateful for those corporate entities whose employee matching programs have such a direct impact on Town Hall’s success each year. (Visit our supporters page for a full list of companies that have provided employee matching gifts to Town Hall.)

One such matching donor is Kathryn Shields, a Town Hall member and employee of the RealNetworks Foundation.


You have been a Town Hall donor since 2011. What initially attracted you to Town Hall and what keeps you engaged year after year?

After attending several events at Town Hall (and benefiting from the deeply-discounted ticket prices, thanks to other Town Hall donors), I felt that I had a responsibility to do my part. I want to keep Town Hall accessible to everyone regardless of ability to pay.

I love that Town Hall offers something for everyone. And with most tickets just $5 (and free for students), Town Hall provides an unbeatable opportunity to be inspired by and directly engage with local, national, and global writers, artists, and leaders. Honestly, there’s something almost every night at Town Hall that interests me! I’m proud to support such a truly “democratic” community asset.

In addition to your personal support of Town Hall, you also work for a company that provides a 1:1 match of your donations and volunteer hours. How has this ability to enable gifts from your employer affected your philanthropic giving?  

I feel fortunate to work for a company that matches my personal donations—up to $10,000 per year!  Prior to working for RealNetworks I made a fair amount of charitable donations, but once I knew that my contributions would be matched, I dramatically increased my charitable giving—in large part because I didn’t want the Foundation match to go to waste. I feel good about contributing to Town Hall because I’m confident that both my gift and the Foundation’s matching grant will be used wisely.

We are so fortunate to live in a city with so many corporate entities that match employee donations and volunteer hours, but not all employees take advantage of this benefit. Why have you chosen to take the time to enable corporate matching for so many years?

Actually, corporate/foundation matching grant programs are more rare these days than you may think. I survey our employees each year and they consistently say that the Foundation’s matching grant programs are meaningful employee benefits that they value. So, I encourage corporations and foundations that don’t currently have an employee matching grant program to consider initiating one.

In terms of my personal use of our Foundation’s matching grant program, it couldn’t be easier!  It typically takes less than two minutes to log in and submit a matching grant request. Our vendor sends an email to the charity that a matching grant request is waiting to be verified online. I believe that it is equally easy for nonprofits, like Town Hall, to verify receipt of employee donations and qualify for matching grants. From my perspective, matching grant programs are an effective way for companies and foundations to support both their employees’ philanthropic giving and the work of community-based nonprofits like Town Hall. It’s a true win-win.

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