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Would You Like To Supersize Your Gift?

July 4th, 2012

Most nonprofits don’t pay much attention to their matching gift program, considering it an afterthought – a “BTW footnote” listed on the back of the reply card, or at the end of the donation eform.  What if it could be more?

Matching gift can be more than “please-find-your-employer’s-form-and-send-it-to-us” when it comes to your campaign.  It can actually become a way to boost some much needed funds from one of your upcoming direct mail or email campaigns that hasn’t performed as well as you’d hoped.

In order to apply this tactic, it takes more planning ahead of time – and the cooperation of a loyal major donor who is already planning to give to your organization.

Whether major donor in this case is $10,000, $50,000 or $100,000 depends on your organization, but the strategy remains the same – and is sound.  The point is to demonstrate, at the beginning of the campaign, that you already have significant support – and that the seed money has been committed by a strong supporter who’ll match all donations, thereby doubling gifts donated in this campaign!

Several studies have been done to show the effectiveness of this tactic, and the findings showed a 19% increase in overall revenue simply by announcing a match.  The probability that an individual would donate was found to increase by 22% because a match was included in the campaign.

Other interesting findings:  Increasing the match had no significant effect on giving.  It was tested so that various campaigns ranged from a $3:$1 or $2:$1 or $1:$1 match and gift giving did not vary among the three sets.  Other studies by different researchers are cited, who lowered the match ratio to 25% and 50%, and found that 25% didn’t increase giving, but the 50% match did.

Adding some urgency, such as a deadline, to your campaign will help facilitate this even more, such as, “All donations given by [Date] will be matched, up to [$X], so you can double your gift!  Please give today!”

This also has an additional effect of letting your major donor know that they helped strengthen an otherwise lagging campaign by strategically placing their gift, and makes them feel much more important in the organization.  Simply, it’s a win-win strategy!

This not only applies to individual major donors, of course, but some nonprofits have worked with corporate donors who will match contributions given by individuals for a campaign’s duration.  They enjoy the publicity of being supportive of the nonprofit as well, while most individuals prefer to remain anonymous.

Once the strategy is in place and improves your lagging campaign(s), you may want to test it on a more successful one – to see how well it performs, too.  Your donors may come to expect that you’ll be stretching their dollars further as par for the course, which could improve your overall image.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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