Strike a Match(ing Gift)!
MJF: So, how do we do that?
FS: Well, that's as good a place to start as any. And actually the scenario I just mentioned is a little misleading. Organizations are best advised to be proactive in getting gifts that can be used as a challenge gift.
MJF: So most major donors probably wouldn't think to come to us with the idea of using their donations for a matching-gift challenge?
FS: Probably not. Kimberly Seville is a creative consultant and freelance copywriter for nonprofits. She also writes FS' DM Diagnosis column, which makes her one of our resident experts. She says that in her experience, the big issue with matching gifts is that nonprofits have trouble securing them. Here are a few ways she suggests pursuing them:
- Hit up the board. If they're making big gifts (and they should be), have them stipulate it's for a match.
- Go to a major donor with a proposal. Spell out what the matching gift will do to help raise more money from smaller gift donors — show the major donor how a typical appeal performs versus what a match should do to lift response. Use the same pitch to the board. It's all about leveraging the money.
- Send an appeal to the top donors in your file asking them to contribute to create a matching-gift fund that can then be used to leverage giving with small-gift donors.
MJF: Great ideas! But how do you know what's a good goal to set for a challenge gift?
FS: That's a tough one — and one that might be a bit of a controversial topic among fundraisers. If you don't meet the match, the original donor might still give the original gift, but she might NOT and she's certainly under no obligation to do so. Would the increased number of smaller gifts make up for that shortfall? That's something you need to weigh when you're trying to determine who to approach for a major gift for a challenge campaign and how high to set the goal.