Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

If You Love Bargains (And Who Doesn’t?), You’ll Love This Idea

April 7th, 2014 by Karen Climer

Retail stores uses Buy-One-Get-One coupons to increase sales.  It works because we love bargains.  In the nonprofit world, our version of the BOGO coupon is a matching gift.  Who wouldn’t want to donate to their favorite cause knowing that their gift of $50 will be worth $100 to the cause?

Recently, I was working on a $3 million capital campaign.  Before we launched the public phase, I asked a donor to make a $50,000 matching gift.  The donor didn’t care if it was a matching gift.  He was willing to give an outright gift.  I told him that he could help the cause more and essentially double his own gift by making it a matching gift.  Wait a minute!  The “matchor” doubles his gift?  Yes.  Without the impetus of his gift, we might not have received the gifts from the “matchees.”  So in a way both the matchor and the matchee double their gifts.  He liked the idea of using his gift to inspire others, so he was in.

If you are kicking off a campaign, make your initial gift requests for matching gifts.  I suppose it is possible that a donor would insist on making it an outright gift, but I’ve never had that happen to me.  In my experience, even if the donor was planning on an outright gift, they always agree to a matching gift.  (But they don’t always agree to having their name associated with it.  Be sure to check that before you start announcing that, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith have challenged the community…”)

I have also used a matching gift to re-energize a stalled campaign.  People who were mildly interested (but not interested enough to donate) might be interested now that their donation will go twice as far.  If the matching gift has a deadline, you can use that to create urgency.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no downside to a matching gift.  The next time you need a fundraising boost (and who doesn’t need that?!), try securing a matching gift.  Then use that to motivate everyone else.

Posted in Asking, Capital Campaign, Donor Motivation, Major Gifts, Planning

2 Responses

  1. Lisa

    Again…you’re right on! I am helping an organization raise funds for a specific campaign and will definitely use model. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and validating it with a real example!

    Keep ’em coming!!

  2. Karen Climer

    Thank you for reading. Good luck with the campaign!

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