It’s a Match!
I’m not talking about the latest soccer game. I’m not even talking about the online dating service, although, in a way, we fundraisers could be considered trying to “date” and then “marry” our donors.
No, what I’m talking about is that wonderful, glorious “challenge” you offer, which you can use to “entice” other donors to make a gift. The amount raised is typically matched by a generous donor or a group of donors, and it helps you raise even more money for your organization.
Challenge matches have a deadline. There is a finite amount. You can report on meeting the challenge and getting the match.
Matches work for every donor level and virtually every fundraising situation.
- For acquisition, it’s trying to pull new donors over the threshold. Ah, my gift of $20 can be worth twice as much because it’s matched. Yes, I’m willing to do that even though I’ve never given before.
- For existing donors, it’s trying to get an extra gift or get closer to a very specific goal, especially at the end of a big campaign.
- For potential monthly donors, it’s used as a “carrot” to get donors or non-donors to consider a recurring gift, so you can get more money, ongoing.
- On giving days, it’s used to optimize social media and emails to help you reach a specific goal.
Of course, you can’t do matches all the time. You must balance them. You also must consider how best to communicate the match. That’s where it can get a bit dicey. Some donors are very specific as to what they’d like to do. Others leave it up to you and you can be more flexible.
Especially with monthly donations, it can get more complicated. Should I offer the match to cover the first year of gifts? Should the match offer the first month? Is the challenge reached when I generate so many new monthly donors? Is the match used to double the monthly value?
I’ve seen all the above and more variations. The key though is to keep it as simple as possible. Especially if you’re still getting your feet wet in promoting monthly giving, try to keep it as simple as possible. The less you have potential monthly donors think, the more likely they’re going to make that monthly gift.
The easiest approach is to have the match get reached with a specific goal of several new monthly donors. For example, you could say: “I have some exciting news. A generous donor has offered to give an extra $5,000, if we’re able to find 25 new monthly donors by X date. Will you consider joining today? Click here! “
Another example which is starting to get more complicated, but does work is: “A generous donor has graciously offered to match the gifts of any new monthly donors in the first month, if you sign up for monthly giving by X date!”
Some organizations have an overall goal and one-time donations and monthly gifts both work. For example, matches are only done for gifts of $1,000 or more but can be applied if a donor starts making monthly gifts of $85 or more.
And you see variations of this, matching first year amounts, doubling first year’s gifts, etc.
The sooner you can tell your donors that you’ve reached the challenge and will receive the matched amount, the better.
With a clear deadline and a clear goal, a match is simply easier to communicate. But of course, as fundraisers, you’re grateful for any wonderful generous donor or group of donors willing to make this special extra commitment of a match.
And some have very specific guidelines and restrictions. You can typically “negotiate.” You could perhaps use a portion for a special monthly giving match and another for your year end. It’s ultimately up to you to consider maximizing the impact a match can have and for which purpose it’s most powerful to use it.
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.