(not-so-secret) fundraising weapon

Ready to raise more money with your appeal? I’m sure you’ve seen organizations implement this proven strategy to raise more money, but you might have been hesitant to do it yourself.

Matching Gifts are like a (not-so-secret) fundraising weapon. Every time I’ve used a matching gift strategy in a direct mail or e-appeal campaign, we see a significant increase in donations. It’s also totally free to add to the work you’re already doing. I love free and I love raising more money. Don’t you?

Here’s a guide on how to leverage Matching Gifts to increase your fundraising success.

  1. Set some goals.

A match can be used to incentivize specific things you want to grow. You can do a dollar-for-dollar match to increase funds raised. I’ve done matches where the match is for increased donations over the previous year or first-time donations. You can also do a match based on hitting a certain target.

  1. Find your match

Understanding who can be your matching donor will also help you identify what type of match you can do. Sure, wouldn't it be great if you had a donor who could match dollar-for-dollar? However, that’s not the reality for many small nonprofits, so something like a donation for reaching a goal might be more realistic. Also, the donor doesn’t have to be one person. I’ve had boards and volunteer fundraising committees collectively donate to to be the match - it works just as well.

Donors love to have their gifts leveraged to build more support. This is a great way to try and upgrade an existing donor or “seal the deal” for a new prospect.

Some donors want to be recognized in this type of campaign and others want to be anonymous. Both are totally fine!

  1. Ask, ask, ask (and update)

There’s no magic here - you need to ask. More than once.

Create a mini campaign around the ask. If you do traditional mailed appeals, follow up with a series of emails. If you’re appeals are all emails, you definitely want to remind people (and update them as you approach your goals). One email or letter just won’t cut it.

Also, take to social media. Let your audience know how you’re making progress.

  1. Celebrate

Celebrate the success! Make sure the match donor and all the donors who contributed to the campaign are recognized and feel a sense of accomplishment. Report back on the impact of their support to keep them committed and increase your chance of future support.

One final note about matching gifts. There definitely can be a sense of “smoke in mirrors” with these. Will the matching donor still give you the donation even if you don’t reach your goal? Often, yes. So, to avoid your donors feeling like this is just a gimmick, I recommend using it sparingly and making your goals really specific and urgent.