Ready for a little Match Madness? No, that is not a typo. The NCAA men's basketball tournament doesn't start until next week.

But this Tuesday, the Heartland Community Foundation will offer a unique opportunity for area non-profit organizations and the donors who support them -- matching dollars.

"When donors give during Match Madness," said Heartland Executive Director Tammy McClellan, "participating organizations will receive a matching contribution from Heartland."

The event is a one-day opportunity to take advantage of the foundation's offer. Heartland, which serves Ellis, Rooks and Trego counties, has identified 17 funds that can increase their endowments. The participating non-profit funds include: Kansas Next Step Fund, Hays Arts Council Fund, Hays Area Children's Center Fund, Damar Community Historical Foundation, Hays Recreation Commission Youth Programs Fund, USD 489 Foundation Fund for Educational Excellence, Plainville Community Foundation Leadership Fund, Plainville Community Foundation Youth Fund, Hays Dog Park Fund, Coronado Area Council of Boy Scouts of America Fund, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Ellis County Fund, Leadership Hays Fund, Leadership Hays Children's Fund, Hays Area Chamber of Commerce Development and Civic Engagement Fund, First Care Clinic Fund, Hays Community Theatre Fund, and the Stockton Community Fund.

McClellan said the foundation offered participation to all of the approximately 40 funds they support. The 17 that took advantage all can benefit from the matching dollars available. McClellan said Heartland is moving $9,000 from its administrative budget for the event, and will distribute it pro rata.

We would imagine each of the 17 funds have been busy identifying and contacting potential donors who might be able to contribute at this time. If they have not, shame on them. This is a good deal. But even if they have, there is no way possible to have reached each and every individual vested in their organization.

That is why we are helping raise awareness. Take a close look at the list of participating funds. If there are one or two that regularly receive donations from you, please consider changing the timing of your contribution this year. If you do it Tuesday, you have a chance to double the amount your chosen group receives.

Donors can make contributions in person from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at four locations: The Welcome Center, 2700 Vine St., Hays; Heritage Insurance Group, 416 Main St., Stockton; First State Bank, 120 W. Mill St., Plainville; and Dietz Insurance, 120 N. Main St., WaKeeney. If you can't make it to one of the locations, donations can be made online at heartlandcommunityfoundation.org.

We congratulate Heartland Community Foundation for this innovative strategy. Not only is it helping raise money that will remain in the community, it is helping raise awareness for deserving organizations.

"It also allowed us to speak with non-profits about building their endowment funds," McClellan said.

Since its inception in 2007, Heartland has been building up its own balances. Now in excess of $2 million, the organization is strong enough to help exponential growth take place in the funds it serves.

We look forward to the community foundation getting even stronger. As it does, it will allow more individuals to assure their hometowns remain on solid footing even after they're gone. Individual and business financial planning that utilizes the Heartland Community Foundation for even a portion of an estate will help Ellis, Rooks and Trego counties prosper for generations to come.

Match Madness is a fun invitation to make a connection with Heartland. We would encourage all who can to take advantage.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net