FYI Blog

Case Study: Match vs. Challenge: Can You Guess the Winner?

NPCA Matching Gift vs Challenge Collage v2

Challenge: At a time when many direct marketing fundraisers are looking for the next silver bullet, Avalon is constantly challenging ourselves to find ways to reliably boost appeal revenue and response for our clients. Recently, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) sought a way to ramp up an appeal without breaking the bank. We decided to test a tried-and-true strategy to show that sometimes the best approach is to re-use a tactic that’s been successful year after year.

Strategy: For NPCA’s spring 2016 appeal, we conducted a head-to-head test of a matching gift vs. a challenge gift.

For the match, the letter explained that “A generous group of NPCA supporters has offered to match contributions to our work, up to a total of $150,000.” We showed donors the math—how a gift of $50 would grow to $100, a $75 gift would become $150, etc.—and added urgency with a request to respond within 10 days.

For the challenge version, the letter read “A leading group of NPCA supporters has challenged us to raise the ambitious sum of $150,000 to invest in our work,” thus encouraging donors to “rise to the challenge” within 10 days—the classic thermometer approach.

Results: The results were tremendous—and very clear. The matching gift version raised 67% more revenue than the challenge, with a 57% higher response rate. These results echoed the success we’ve had with matching gift appeals for other Avalon clients.

While raising the funds for a match can be a challenge in itself, the promise of doubling the donor’s gift makes a tangible difference in response and revenue. Even though a matching gift strategy has been used for years, it remains a dependable means of engaging donors and improving results.