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Best practices in matching gift and challenge campaigns

How can you make your fundraising campaigns stretch farther? By implementing challenge campaigns and matching gifts strategies.

A challenge campaign is just what it sounds like: A ‘challenge’ is given to donors to raise a certain amount of money by a certain amount of time. If the challenge is complete, there is typically a matching donor(s) that will then match the gifts raised – either dollar for dollar or at a certain percentage point.

A matching gift is similar in the match component, but it doesn’t necessarily have a timeframe or deadline dedicated to the match.

Either way, matching gift and challenge campaigns are great opportunities to take your fundraising to the next level.

Start with what’s there then make it your own

Matching challenge campaign strategies are great to set up prior to giving days such as GivingTuesday and SpringForward/Give to the Max. If you are new to matching gift campaigns, a good place to start is by checking for local giving days in your area and sync up your matching challenge campaigns to those days for the best bang for your donors’ bucks.

If you’re up for a little more—a matching challenge or giving day of your own—read on for some ideas and best practices to set that up.

Why giving day and matching challenge campaigns work

Sure, donors can give at any time throughout the year, but when you plan a specific giving day or challenge campaign, it brings more exclusivity to the event and creates a sense of urgency to give. This can be huge for a bump in donation success. Giving days and matching challenges are also great because

  • Your donors know exactly what to do and when to do it by.
  • Your donors know that if the gift isn’t received by a certain date that there could be negative consequences for the project, person or program you‘re trying to fund.
  • Your donors feel the “now or never” mindset which can urge them to give.
  • Your donors feel like they are part of an exclusive opportunity (or that the opportunity will expire quickly)—they don’t want FOMO (fear of missing out).

Additional benefits of hosting a matching challenge campaign

When you host your own fundraiser, you keep more of what you raise. This is because your online fundraising is linked to your own payment processor with rates you’ve negotiated that are likely lower than if you were to pay a third-party processor plus national or state-wide giving day/campaign fees.

Additionally, when you host campaigns outside of your organization, it’s hard to say what type of donor information you will have full access to. You may get the donations, sure, but will you get their mailing address, names, emails, company information, etc.? By hosting a giving day or matching campaign on your site, you can oversee the mandatory donor data that is collected with each online donation.

Finding the right matching donor(s)

Your fundraising pitch can be stronger with matching donors. Take your giving day campaigns one step further by identifying a matching gift component to the campaign. In fact, doing so increases the likelihood that donors will give by 22 percent!

Even small matches can provide your campaign with a few things:

  1. Validation that your giving day is credible and supported by key individuals or businesses in the area.
  2. Momentum and inspiration for people to get involved early.
  3. Wider reach to promote your campaign messaging as your matching donors will likely be spreading the word on your behalf.

Messaging matters as you reach out to large donors in hopes they will participate as a matching gift partner. While donors with the ability to make smaller gifts see matching gift programs as a way to make their donations go farther, so is the mindset of your large donors.

As you start to identify those who may be open to being the match-maker during your campaign, think about how you will talk about what their money will do. Showcase how their match will allow you to do more, be more, for the community. Your matching donors are interested in long-term benefits—how will this major gift impact your organization in the long run? What could you do with the match that you may not likely be able to do without it?

At a minimum, start to educate donors about options in matching gifts—whether as individuals who can make personal matches or, by asking them to talk to their employers for matching gift opportunities. Updating your communication, starting to talk to major donors about the possibility of matching gifts, and entertaining the idea of hosting your own giving day are all great ways to work toward solidifying larger donations for your nonprofit.

For more inspiration, check out our on-demand webinar, “How Your Nonprofits Can Host a Successful Giving Day”.

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, a simple and effective fundraising CRM that specializes in earning recurring revenue for nonprofits through monthly giving. For 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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