Bourne's Million Dollar Mystery Man

An anonymous donor from Bourne has helped amass nearly a million dollars during the past nine years to benefit local health care programs and facilities, such as Falmouth Hospital, Cape Cod Hospital, and the Visiting Nurse Association of Cape Cod.

This philanthropist, who wishes to remained unnamed, did so by matching or “double-matching” donations made by Bourne residents to Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation.

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of the man’s fundraising challenge to the community.

There are three categories to the challenge:

The first category is for repeat donors. The man will match, dollar for dollar, any donation made by any Bourne resident who already regularly donates to Cape Cod Healthcare.


The second category is for first-time donors. For these first timers, the man has pledged not just to match the donation but to double match it, thereby tripling the original donation.

The third category is for someone who has donated before but not in the past five years. For these folks, the man has also agreed to double match the donation.

The anonymous donor insists that all of the dollars raised remain unrestricted and used where the need is greatest. By the end of last year, this generous annual gesture helped to raise $966,589.

But the man insists that just as important as the money raised is the number of donors who have contributed.

“It is impressive how committed this benefactor is about encouraging others to give,” said Edith S. Millard, annual giving manager of the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation. “For him it is about educating his friends and neighbors that they can have an impact on the health system of the entire Cape Community. It is truly touching how much he cares.”

Underfunded programs, capital projects, physician recruitment, emergency care, and treating chronic and life-threatening conditions are a few of the areas where the funds could be used and would have a huge impact.
Deborah C. Dougherty, major gifts officer at the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation, works closely with donors of Falmouth Hospital and the VNA.

“The smallest matched gift on record for this challenge was $5. The largest matched gift was $10,000. It is just amazing to know that someone’s $5 gift can grow and be a part of something bigger. Something that eventually turns into $1 million and helps so many,” Ms. Dougherty said.

Ms. Dougherty and Ms. Millard said that they respect the wish of the donor that he never be identified to the public. But it is not always easy.

“It is hard knowing who he is and not being able to sing his praises directly but people have their reasons for giving anonymously and for keeping charitable giving private,” Ms. Millard said.

Although the identity of the anonymous donor will have to remain a mystery, his challenge to residents is not a secret. Every year a letter or a postcard has gone out to let residents know when and how to give.

“This effort has clearly raised awareness about the ongoing needs of Falmouth Hospital and Cape Cod Healthcare. We have seen a 40 percent increase in Bourne donors since 2004 and total giving has tripled,” Ms. Dougherty said. “This challenge represents the very best of doing good works. Our mystery donor does it without expectation of thanks or notoriety. If his challenge helps to motivate others to become more philanthropic, like him, then he has not only helped us, but he has planted the seeds for their health and well-being, too.”

Bourne residents looking for a way to contribute can participate by initiating mail to: The Bourne Challenge, c/o Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation, PO Box 370, Hyannis, MA 02601; or by visiting


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  • capecodhunts

    "Every year a letter or a postcard has gone out to let residents know when and how to give." I live in Bourne and do not ever recall receiving notice. I have also not seen information about this in the Enterprise prior to this article. What a wonderful thing.