ENID, Okla. — St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 518 W. Randolph, is inviting the community to join with the church in making tax-deductible donations to a $1 million matching campaign for disaster relief and development.

"For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world," according to a press release. "Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease."

Episcopal Relief & Development hosts an annual holiday match campaign, offering supporters and donors the opportunity to double the impact of their donations. For the second year in a row, private donors have pledged funds to double others' donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $1 million.

“No matter where I travel, one thing I observe is that all of us, as children of God, share the same hopes and dreams,” said Rob Radtke, president & CEO of Episcopal Relief & Development. “The needs of the world are often overwhelming, but we can act on our faith, knowing our actions genuinely make a difference."

The Rev. John Toles, pastor at St. Matthew's, said the campaign gives people in the local community an opportunity to make a global impact with their gifts.

"It really is a way for us to help in a global way, those who are affected by need and disasters," Toles said.

In addition to its overseas work, Episcopal Relief & Development responds to needs in the United States, with an emphasis on disaster response and programs related to women, children and climate.

And, when there is need, Toles said the organization responds regardless of the faith or demographics of those in need.

"They help anybody who is in need," Toles said. "It doesn't matter if they're Christian or not Christian. It is a matter of helping God's people."

It is common, Toles said, for giving opportunities to "pop up" in the wake of a disaster, but with well-documented aid organizations like Episcopal Relief & Development, people can give with the assurance their gifts will go where they're needed, when they're needed.

"When anything happens, there's all sorts of things that come up," Toles said, "but for Episcopalians and others, this is a way of giving where you know dollars will get to where they need to be."

According to Episcopal Relief & Development, 84 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to relief and development programs; 11 cents goes to continuing fundraising; and 5 cents of every dollar donated goes to administrative overhead.

Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that ranks nonprofits, and receives no funds from the groups it evaluates, ranks Episcopal Relief & Development a "4-Star Charity," its top ranking. The group gave Episcopal Relief & Development an overall score of 91 out of 100, with scores of 87% in financials and 100% in transparency and accountability.

GuideStar, another independent nonprofit ranking group, has recognized Episcopal Relief & Development with a Gold Seal of Transparency.

Funds donated through the Million Dollar Match will benefit the organization’s Global Needs Fund, "enabling work around the world with local partners, helping communities overcome poverty, hunger, disaster and disease," according to a press release. "Contributions will support programs that empower women and promote gender equality, enable children to reach their full potential, help build resilience to the effects of a changing climate, and promote disaster preparedness."

“Each year, we get many inquiries about when this important match campaign begins so supporters can participate and help us double our reach,” said Xerxes Eclipse, director of donor services for Episcopal Relief & Development. “It really is humbling to know year-in, year-out how so many of our donors are moved to support our important work and are looking for a strategic giving opportunity like this."

Donations made to Episcopal Relief & Development before the end of the year are eligible for matching.

“With your support, Episcopal Relief & Development will reach even more people in the year ahead, sowing seeds of abundance and lasting change,” Radtke said.

Donations can be made online at episcopalrelief.org/match or by calling (855) 312-4325. Gifts also can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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