Best Practices in Matching Gifts and Donation Challenge Campaigns

Implementing challenge campaigns and matching gift strategies is an excellent way to stretch fundraising further.

But what is a challenge campaign and matching gifts?

A ‘challenge’ is given to donors to raise a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time. If the challenge is complete, a matching donor(s) will match the gifts raised – either dollar for dollar or at a certain percentage point. 

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

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

To make something your own, it is important to begin with what already exists.

It is a good idea to plan matching challenge campaign strategies ahead of giving days., such as GivingTuesday and SpringForward/Give to the Max. For newbies, an excellent place to start is by checking for local giving days in the area and syncing up their matching challenge campaigns to those days for the best bang for their donors’ bucks. 


Why giving day and matching challenge campaigns work.

Of course, donors can present at any time throughout the year, but when one plans 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;

  • The donors know exactly what to do and when to do it.
  • They know that if the gift isn’t received by a specific date, there could be negative consequences for the project, person, or program one is trying to fund.
  • They feel the “now or never” mindset, which can urge them to give.
  • The 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).

Finding the suitable matching donor(s).

Messaging matters as one reaches out to large donors in hopes they will participate as a matching gift partner. While donors who can make smaller gifts see matching gift programs as a way to make their donations go further, so does the mindset of one’s large donors.

When looking for someone to act as a matchmaker during a fundraising campaign, it’s important to show potential donors how their contribution will make a difference. Emphasize the positive impact their matching gift will have on the community and how it will allow your organization to do more. Remember, your matching donors are interested in the long-term benefits, so it’s essential to demonstrate how this significant gift will positively affect your organization in the long run. 

At a minimum, educate donors on options for matching gifts, either as individuals who can personally match or by encouraging them to speak with their employers about matching gift opportunities. It’s important to update the communication and start talking to significant donors – those who are so generous that their names can be displayed on a wall. Considering the possibility of matching gifts and hosting your own giving day are also great ways to work towards securing more significant donations for the nonprofit.

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