Nothing gives your fundraising a boost like a great matching or challenge gift to inspire donors. As fundraising consultants, Kennari regularly suggests adding a match or challenge to clients’ fundraising design and the reason is simple: everyone wins!
The lead donor issuing the challenge or match enjoys making a meaningful investment in the organization’s future. They love to have others join them in supporting an organization that’s important to them. And, saavy donors know that the more broad an organization’s donor base is, the more sustainable it is in the long term.
The participating donors who respond to the challenge or match enjoy seeing their dollars go farther. Having their gift doubled or tripled, or seeing their favorite organization receive a large grant when they meet their goal, really makes them feel like a game-changer.
Of course, the organization enjoys meeting their fundraising goals. In addition to financial success, they likely have deepened the lead donor’s relationship with the organization, attracted donors they might not have gotten before, and likely met their goal in a quicker timeframe than they would have otherwise.
Whether a matching gift (where a lead donor doubles or triples gifts to a certain campaign) or a challenge (where a lead donor only makes their gift when a target goal has been met), there are a few key things to consider as you design your matching or challenge gift strategy:
1) Determine what you are trying to accomplish before you solicit your lead donor. Whether you are trying to finish a capital campaign, energize a particular segment of donors, or simply grow your donor base, it’s important to communicate your plan and the outcomes you hope to achieve so your lead donor understands what’s going to be accomplished.
2) Clearly define the parameters of the match or challenge. It’s important that the challenge or match is easy to communicate in both print and digital media as well as by word of mouth through your board, staff, and other volunteers. Having complicated criteria can be too difficult to communicate, and too difficult to track and report as well.
3) Set a timeline and stick to it. Of course you want to set yourself up for success, but one of the best things about a match or challenge is that it naturally lends itself to a particular timeframe, which then creates a sense of urgency for the donor. And, no matching lead donor wants to see it go on forever!
4) Develop a robust communication strategy. It is important that you have a specific plan for getting the word out about your match or challenge. If it is for a capital campaign, use your campaign cabinet to reach out to the prospects they have been cultivating. If you are matching gifts to appeals during a certain timeframe, identify exactly how many messages you’ll send and how often. If the timeline is long enough, using phases of communication plans that share progress dates can also be a really great way to keep those gifts coming.
5) Report, Report, Report. You especially need to report to your lead donor, but your participating donors want to know if you were successful also. And even falling short of a match goal can be ok if you’re able to share some point of success. Reporting how many new donors you had, or what you were able to do with the dollars raised can both be great ways to celebrate.
When done well, matching gifts can ignite your fundraising and elevate your message to a broad audience. It also can bring a sense of community to your donor base, including your lead donor, and provide the energy and dollars needed to move your mission forward.