Non-cash gifts key to Walter and Connie Payton Foundation success

By way of gifts, pledges and grants, the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation has nearly doubled its annual revenues since 2008.

Despite a struggling economy and dramatic reduction in government grants, the foundation has continued to grow and expand its charitable contributions annually, according to the organization’s financial filings.

“We know that everybody is feeling the economic pinch, but our donors seem to still be driven to support our city’s children, and that is beautiful,” assistant to Connie Payton, Kelly Woods, said.

From 2005 through 2008, the foundation generated $1.40 million in total revenue. They did so through federal grants totaling $780,000 and by coordinating toy drives throughout the city and suburbs.

However, 2009 turned out to be a banner year for the foundation as it generated $1.26 million, a whopping 42 percent jump over the prior year. And, the foundation did so despite receiving a 20 percent reduction in government grants from the $250,000 received in 2008.

* 2011 reported revenue subject to restatement

* 2011 reported revenue subject to restatement

“We really focused on fundraising events. We quadrupled our event fundraising in 2009,” Jarrett Payton added.
The $57,072 that the foundation raised in 2009, through two events: “The Sweetness Run” and “Sweetness Games Night,” was a 21 percent increase over the prior year.

But, the key contribution to the successful 2009 fiscal year for the foundation was its dramatic increase in non-cash gifts. The foundation more than tripled the $282,103 non-cash gifts received in 2008 to $968,129.

“I would say that we really began to get involved in the schools throughout the city and held more fundraising events, but the biggest contribution we got was when my mother [Connie Payton] went on to the Dr. Oz show,” Jarrett Payton said.

Connie Payton first represented the foundation in October 2006 on the “Meet The Peete’s” radio show, hosted by Rodney and Robinson Peete. Since then, the Payton family has been on “The Dr. Oz Show”, hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz, each October to celebrate Cancer Awareness Month. “Meet The Peete’s” and “The Dr. Oz Show” are both produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago-based Harpo Inc.

“I remember the weeks following Dr. Oz in 2007, we were getting so many calls that we had to hire another assistant,” Kelly Woods remembered.

From 2009 to 2011, the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation has maintained annual revenues of approximately $1.3 million, most of which still comes from noncash gifts and contributions.

“To date, my family’s foundation has raised over $5 million in toys, grants and school supplies to help Chicago’s underprivileged children,” Jarrett Payton said.

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