Matching gifts inspire couple to start scholarship

Glenn and Betty Bickel had already been kicking around the idea of establishing an endowed scholarship at Wayland Baptist University, when they learned some interesting news.

Xcel Energy, which owns Southwestern Public Service Company, was one of many companies who offer matching gifts for charitable donations made by their employees. Though Glenn had retired from SPS in 1986, he still qualified for that benefit.

"That kind of spurred us along," Bickel said, adding that the couple then made their first donation, which Xcel matched. They then decided to finish paying out the endowment so the scholarship will be able to be awarded soon.

According to Dr. Russ Gibbs, vice president for institutional advancement, donors like the Bickels are great examples of making one's money go further in order to help worthy causes.

"It's a great way for people to double their gifts, if they'll just check with their companies," Gibbs said. "One of the ways corporations support charity is by endorsing their employees' charitable requests."

Gibbs explained that many companies have a structure in place that allows them to match gifts made by an employee to a qualified charitable organization, with yearly limits that differ from company to company. He said cash gifts or transfers of the company's stock both qualify for matching.

Gibbs added that most of the oil and utility companies offer matching gifts benefits for employees, as do most major industrial companies. Employees typically must contact their benefits officer to get any necessary paperwork to take advantage of the benefit.

As for the Bickels, once their initial gift and its match was complete, the decision was made to round out their endowment. Their scholarship is designated to be awarded to a junior or senior in the school of education.

Bickel is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and worked for SPS in engineering and sales for 40 years. He has worked as a consultant since retirement. Mrs. Bickel holds two degrees from Oklahoma State University and is a licensed professional counselor. She spent many years counseling in schools in Borger, New Jersey and in Plainview and was a classroom teacher and college instructor.

For more information on matching gifts or to donate to Wayland, contact Gibbs or development director Martha Cross at (806) 291-3427.