Ultrasound Initiative

Councils Provide Funds to Pregnancy Centers for New Medical Technology

A new ultrasound machine donated by Massachusetts Knights to Worcester’s Problem Pregnancy Inc. was blessed by state chaplain Bishop Daniel Reilly in January. Shown are (left to right) sonographer Kathy Lake, Bishop Reilly, Deacon Joseph Baniukewicz, State Deputy William Donovan and State Advocate Thomas McGinn

On January 22, 2009, the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand, the Knights of Columbus launched a new initiative aimed at providing women considering abortion a new way of viewing the life within them.

On that day, the K of C Supreme Council matched funds raised by Knights in Florida and Iowa to provide two pregnancy care centers complete funding for the acquisition of ultrasound machines that will help the centers to provide for the health of both mother and child.

As of March 2015, numerous local and state councils have qualified for matching funds from the Supreme Council office towards the purchase of over 540 ultrasound machines at a cost of over $16.1 million, with additional state and local council fund raising campaigns for ultrasound machine purchases either in progress or to be launched in the near future.

Ultrasound exams, which are medically indicated throughout pregnancy for a variety of diagnostic reasons, use ultrasound waves to scan a women’s abdomen, creating a picture or “sonogram” of the baby in her uterus. Without K of C support, most pregnancy care centers would be unable to purchase the ultrasound machines, each usually costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Before any fund-raising begins, review Qualifying a Pregnancy Care Center in Collaboration with the Local Diocese (#9885). Then, present the Diocesan Evaluation (#4884) to the diocesan culture of life director. After being completed and signed by the diocesan culture of life director, the Diocesan Evaluation form should be submitted to the Supreme Council’s Culture of Life, Marriage and Family Values Office. After that office advises that the pregnancy care center may be considered for inclusion in the Ultrasound Initiative program, fund-raising may then begin, provided that the council and the pregnancy care center will also meet all of the other Ultrasound Initiative Guidelines.

State and local councils desiring to participate in the Ultrasound Initiative should refer to the Ultrasound Initiative Guidelines (#4885) for program requirements. Councils must raise half of the funds for purchase of an ultrasound machine before submitting an Ultrasound Initiative Application (#4886) to the Supreme Council Office for matching funds. The answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (#4873) provide additional information about the program.

The sophistication of today’s medical technology provides a “window on the womb” said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson. “Even from the early stages of pregnancy, a mother can see her developing child, hear the baby’s heartbeat, and to recognize the miracle of the new life within her.”

The Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative seeks to provide medically certified pro-life pregnancy care centers with the modern technology to monitor the health of babies in utero, and to allow mothers to visually experience their development.


Ultrasound Machine Purchase Program

When a state council/local council campaign raises one-half of the cost of purchasing an ultrasound machine for a pro-life pregnancy care center (PCC), the Supreme Council will match the other half of the machine’s cost.

Since this is a joint state and local council initiative, the state deputy must be informed at the beginning of the process of local and state council efforts. Throughout the campaign the state deputy should be kept informed of local and state council progress.

To qualify for matching funds, a Knights of Columbus state or local council must take the following steps:

1. Locate a pro-life PCC that is prepared to receive and use an ultrasound machine.

2. Present a Diocesan Evaluation (Form #9884) to the (Arch)diocesan culture of life director to determine whether or not the PCC is anti-Catholic in any way (i.e. - some centers have individuals who have attempted to lead Catholic women away from the Church) and if the PCC may participate in the Ultrasound Initiative.

3. Determine that this PCC will be able to staff and operate this machine. This will include assuring that:
     a. the center is properly licensed under state and local laws and regulations to operate an ultrasound machine
     b. the center is affiliated with a medical doctor who is willing to oversee the ultrasound machine operations
     c. the machine will be staffed with licensed and experienced medical personnel
     d. the center has adequate insurance for operation of the machine

4. After the Diocesan Evaluation has been submitted to and acknowledged as positive by the Supreme Council office, and each of the other criteria above have been met, the PCC officials, including the medical director, should select an ultrasound machine that will fit the center's needs. They should obtain a quote for the purchase price of the machine (not including shipping, taxes, maintenance agreements, extra parts or supplies, etc). The prices of ultrasound machines to date have reflected discounts negotiated with the vendor. In some cases, the discount has been 55% of the list price.

5. Begin fundraising. While the PCC may certainly assist in fund raising, if the PCC raises the funds predominately on its own, without on-going and significant involvement of the local council and/or the state council, the PCC will not be eligible for matching funds from the Supreme Council Office. The Knights of Columbus council must be actively involved in raising the funds for half of the purchase price of the ultrasound machine.

In the United States, the state or local council leading the drive should designate, or open, a council bank account to receive the funds. Donated checks should be made out to “Knights of Columbus,” not to the PCC, to assure all donations are counted towards the council’s 50% share of the funds to be raised and matched.

In Canada, because of differing tax codes, checks should be payable to the PCC, not to the council. The council leading the fund raising campaign should collect the checks and other donations, list them by name and amount, then turn the funds over to the PCC for deposit.

6. Once the funds for not less than half of the purchase price of the ultrasound machine are raised, the Ultrasound Initiative Application (#4886) should be completed, signed by the state deputy, and submitted to the Supreme Council Office. Enclose other required documents, such as the price quote for the ultrasound machine.

7. According to the same terms as described above, funds may be raised and matched in order to replace a PCC’s machine that has become less effective because of excessive use or outdated technology.

8. Plan a check presentation or ribbon cutting ceremony to be held when the machine arrives or is ready for operation. Be sure to invite the state deputy and determine with the PCC which media to invite.

Culture of Life, Marriage and Family Values Office
Knights of Columbus
1 Columbus Plaza
New Haven, CT 06510-3326

william.obrien@kofc.org      203-752-4403


  • Who is eligible to participate in the Ultrasound Initiative?

    A state and/or local council should raise the funds and submit the forms. Chapters, councils in a district, Fourth Degree assemblies, and Columbian Squires circles have also participated in the Ultrasound Initiative. Fund raising should be the responsibility of the sponsoring K of C unit, not the receiving pregnancy care center.

    The receiving organization must be a pro-life pregnancy care center (PCC) operating on a “limited medical model.” The PCC should be a non-profit organization that provides pregnant women with a variety of services, such as counseling about the alternatives to abortion, abstinence education, referrals for legal, medical, housing, and social services resources, maternity and baby clothes, diapers, and other support, not just on the day of the free ultrasound exam, but throughout pregnancy.

    Though a free ultrasound exam often helps an abortion minded woman to decide to choose life for herself and her child, she may then need the resources the PCC can offer to sustain her in her decision and to help her through her pregnancy, and even after delivery.

    Organizations which do not offer the variety of services PCCs routinely offer to pregnant women are not eligible to participate in the Ultrasound Initiative.

    Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative funds are given to the PCC, which purchases the ultrasound machine. Though most PCCs locate and use their ultrasound machine in their own facility, for various reasons, some PCCs have worked out arrangements to locate their ultrasound machine in a physician’s office, hospital, or, in the case of a portable or mobile ultrasound machine, in a RV or van. However, the PCC continues to own the machine and determines where it will be located and how it will best be used to meet its needs and the needs of the pregnant women the PCC serves.

  • What does “limited medical model” mean?

    Some PCCs offer help, including referrals for medical care, to pregnant women, but provide no medical services of their own. Other PCCs that offer limited medical services, such as an ultrasound exam to confirm a pregnancy, and possibly additional, though limited, medical services, such as testing for sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs/STIs), are using the “limited medical model” of pregnancy care centers. PCCs in this second group, operating on the “limited medical model,” with a physician as medical director, are eligible for participation in the Ultrasound Initiative.

  • What does my council have to do to get an ultrasound machine in our local pregnancy care center (PCC)?

    The center must meet the faith, medical, insurance, fundraising and tax requirements of the program.

  • I am a PCC director. How can my center participate in the ultrasound program?

    Contact a member of your Knights of Columbus state or local council. If you do not know anyone who is a Knight, call the office of a local Catholic church to assist in putting you in touch with a council member. Or, contact william.obrien@kofc.org for information and assistance.

  • Our local PCC is not Catholic – can it still participate in the program?

    Yes, if it receives a positive Diocesan Evaluation from the local Catholic (Arch)diocese. To receive a positive evaluation, the PCC must not engage in anti-Catholic proselytism (i.e., it does not attempt to lead Catholic women away from the Catholic Faith). Some PCCs have Statements of Faith that are inconsistent with Catholic teaching. The PCC’s Statement of Faith must be included in the documents submitted to the diocese. Policies regarding use and referral for contraception and abortion must not conflict with Catholic moral principles. The Diocesan Evaluation (Form #9884), available for download above and should be completed by the arch/diocesan culture of life director and then submitted to the Supreme Council office.

  • Will the program pay for training the staff to use and maintain the ultrasound machine?

    No, the program will only pay the cost of the ultrasound machine itself. Shipping, taxes, installation, supplies, maintenance, training and insurance costs are to be handled by the PCC. Often times, the center can find outside resources to help with these expenses.

  • What ultrasound machine is appropriate for us to purchase?

    There are at least a dozen major manufacturers of ultrasound machines, each with several different models. As each PCC has different client needs, the determination of what type of ultrasound machine it should purchase is left to the center’s medical director. In some instances, because of the services offered, a center may find that a 2D-with-doppler machine fulfills its requirements; in others, where more detailed services are available, a 3D/4D ultrasound machine may be more appropriate. Several PCCs have opted for portable ultrasound machines, such as a laptop model, that may be moved from one facility to another or used in a mobile unit, such as an RV or modified van.

  • The ultrasound machine the PCC wants is really expensive. Is the list price always firm?

    List prices may be as high as $100,000, or more. However, almost all of the ultrasound machines purchased under this program reflect discounts negotiated locally with the vendors. Some of these discounts have been substantial – 55% of the list price in more than one instance.

  • How much does an ultrasound machine usually cost?

    The discounted cost of a 2D machine is usually in the range of $20,000 to $40,000. A 3D/4D machine’s cost, after discounts, is usually in the $30,000 to $60,000 range. The council will need to raise 50% of the cost of the machine. Once the PCC has selected a make and model and has obtained a manufacturer’s price quote for the selected ultrasound machine, the council must determine if is capable of raising its 50% cost of the machine within a reasonable period of time. If so, the council may begin fundraising.

  • Must a council raise funds on its own?

    Many do. But many other councils, with their state deputy’s approval, team up with neighboring councils, with councils within their district, or with the state council, to conduct a joint fund-raising campaign. Funds should not be solicited from other councils without the state deputy’s approval.

  • Our local PCC already has an old ultrasound machine. Could this center be considered eligible for the program?

    Ultrasound technology has progressed tremendously. Oftentimes, the older generation ultrasound machine can no longer produce a clear image or the machine becomes too costly to repair. In those instances, if the center meets all the requirements of the program, it can participate.

  • If we raise less than half of the cost of an ultrasound machine, will the Supreme Council still match each dollar raised?


  • Our council hasn’t raised our half of the cost but will have it by the time our request is approved. Is that okay?

    Half of the ultrasound machine’s cost must be raised before the state deputy approves and signs your application and submits it to the Supreme Council office.

  • Can a donor get a receipt for his contribution for tax purposes?


    However, the tax codes differ between the United States and Canada, requiring different procedures concerning writing out checks, deposit of donations for the Ultrasound Initiative, accounting for donations, and issuing receipts.

    In the United States, the status of the Knights of Columbus as a 501(c)(8) Fraternal Benefit Society under the Internal Revenue Code means that contributions to it are generally NOT deductible by the donor. However, there is a limited exception to this rule known as "pass-through charitable fund-raising".

    Contributions might be tax deductible as charitable contributions under certain circumstances if Internal Revenue Code Section 170(c)(4) is complied with and those funds are restricted and used exclusively for charitable purposes as defined under that section. Funds used in this manner must be totally segregated in a separate account from other Knights of Columbus council funds and cannot be used in any manner for social or fraternal purposes (cannot be used for council expenses or functions).

    Also, this limited exception is only allowed to individual taxpayers; it cannot be utilized by non-persons such as businesses or corporations. Therefore, it would not be applicable in any instance

    concerning corporate matching funds or discounts on corporate donation of goods or services.

    The council collecting and passing through the donations would track the donor names, addresses, and amounts given and provide that information to the recipient charity. The charity, in this case, the PCC, would then issue the receipt.

    IRS publication 557, available online, has more information on these rules. Information on pass-through charitable fundraising is also available on the Knights of Columbus website under For Officers/Reports Online/Support Materials/Form 990 information.

    In Canada, donations to a Knights of Columbus council are not tax deductable and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has no equivalent to the U.S. IRS’s pass through charitable fund raising rule. Thus, in Canada, in order to assure tax deductibility, instead of making checks payable to the council, checks should be made payable to the PCC, which must have been approved by CRA as a registered charity authorized to perform limited medical services. To assure the PCC can distinguish between checks for ongoing support and the ultrasound campaign, checks should be earmarked on the “Memo” line for the “Ultrasound Initiative.”

    In Canada, the council leading the campaign should collect the checks and other donated funds, make a record of who donated how much, but not deposit the money. Instead, the funds should be given to the PCC for deposit and the PCC should issue receipts. The donations should be retained by the PCC in its bank account until the local council’s full 50% of the cost of the machine is raised, matched by the Supreme Council, and then used by the PCC to purchase the ultrasound machine.

    Donors in both the United States and Canada should always check with their own tax attorney and accountant, as individual situations may vary.

  • We want the matching funds payable to the ultrasound machine company. Is that permissible?

    No. The purchase should be made by the PCC, not by the Knights of Columbus. The Supreme Council’s check will be made payable in the United States to a 501(c)3 charitable organization, usually, either the PCC, or a charity organization affiliated with your State Council. In Canada, the PCC, which must be a registered charity authorized to perform limited medical services, should make the purchase. The recipient charitable organization’s federal tax ID number, Employer Identification Number (EIN), in the United States, or the Registered Charitable Donation number in Canada, should be included on the application.

  • How long will it take to receive the matching funds check?

    Once an Ultrasound Initiative application (Form #4886) (available above) is completed, signed by the state deputy, submitted to the Supreme Council office for matching funds, and then determined to be complete, it usually takes approximately three to six weeks for approval and mailing of the check. Notification will be by mail. You are asked not to schedule any delivery, dedication or ribbon-cutting ceremony before notification.