How to Double a Major Gift
People love a good deal. Whether it’s a significant discount, a “buy one, get one free” or “double your money” offer, we just can’t overlook it.
This is also true for donors. When I worked at a direct response agency for many years, the single most effective tactic to boost response and revenue, especially in the last quarter of a calendar year, was when we were able to introduce a “matching-gift” offer to the general donor file.
It is just human nature to want to see your gift doubled so that you can make a greater impact. The question from the direct response team was, “Where are we going to get the match from so that we can offer this to our donors?”
This is where you, as a major gift officer, comes in.
Right now is probably the best moment in the year where we see the direct response team and the major gifts team come together.
The beauty of major gifts, of course, is that you get to know each one of the donors in your portfolio. And, over time, you will know their passion and interests and what makes your donor tick. From the many years that Richard and I, and our team, have been working with major donors, we know that, right now, you have donors in your portfolio that love to leverage their investment.
And you, as the major gift officer, are always looking for compelling offers for each of your donors to match up to their passion and interests.
A matching-gift opportunity may just be the offer a few of your donors cannot resist!
Here is how it works:
- Identify two to three donors in your portfolio who understand marketing and fundraising. You have them, and they get the idea of leveraging their gift so that it will compel other donors of the organization to either consider giving a gift or giving a larger gift than without a “match” offer. Typically, this type of gift from a major donor is an additional gift they give to you during the year.
- Clearly outline the parameters of the gift. For example, ask the donor for a specific gift amount, and tell them this gift will be used in an offer for the general donor file as a tactic to help boost response and revenue. If you are going to “pool” their gift with other major donors, that needs to be stated up front. Typically, if it’s an individual donor committing the gift, that donor remains anonymous. If it’s a corporate donor, they may want to be named (i.e. The Johnson and Johnson Matching Gift Campaign).
- If the major donor commits to use the gift for a matching campaign: You tell the donor if the gift is NOT matched in total, they have the option to only match up to the amount that came in from the appeal, or they can decide whether they want to still give the total of their original commitment. For example, the major donor commits $25,000 for a matching-gift offer. The appeal to the general donor base brings in $20,000. The donor than has the option to only give $20,000, or they can decide to give the added $5,000, which was what they originally committed to give. (In all my years of fundraising, I’ve never seen a donor NOT give the original commitment, but you have to leave that option open to support the integrity of the offer.)
- It is extremely important that after the appeal or campaign is completed that you report back to the major donors the overall impact their “match” provided in increased engagement and support by the general donor file. If you do this well, the major donor will most likely want to do it again the following year.
The amazing thing about this matching-gift offer is that it really does lift response from the general donor file, and it’s a great offer to present to a select number of donors in your portfolio, especially if you are challenging the major donor with a second or third gift in this calendar year.
But you have to get on it now. Gain the commitment now, so your direct response team can do their job and realize the tremendous lift a match-gift offer will have on the general donor file.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.