Like everyone in the industry, Avalon is in the process of analyzing year-end returns and assessing tests. One clear winner: the matching gift strategy.
One client had a slightly larger match to work with this year, which allowed us to set an earlier deadline with a portion of the match, and then extend it after the initial deadline. This strategy resulted in 39% more revenue than the previous year, raising 138% of budget. They’re starting work now on soliciting an even larger match amount for 2015.
A matching gift is a highly effective vehicle for engaging your major donors. Asking higher-level donors to pitch in to fund a matching gift challenge sends them a positive message about capacity building. It’s an opportunity for them to make a tangible difference and see exactly how their gifts impact your program. (Be sure to report back to your major donors with the rippling effects of their gifts on lower-dollar donors and the corresponding revenue.)
Other important points to remember for matching gift campaigns:
The match is not the message. I agree with Tom Belford’s recent rant in the Agitator—the matching gift is not your message; it’s a technique for leveraging the gift and encouraging donors to give today. So always make a compelling, authentic case for support as the focus of your appeal, with the match as icing on the cake. We’ve also found that the match works as an effective teaser (see example below) to get the donor into the envelope, but then you’ve still got to make the strong case for giving.
Follow the rules. Be sure to comply with all regulations for matching gifts. There are legal considerations, like providing the capped dollar amount and deadline in your email body copy, direct mail letter, and telemarketing script. And matching gifts must have an actual donor backing up the match—in other words, your representation of a donor matching the gifts must be truthful. It’s important to get legal advice before constructing a matching gift campaign to ensure that you’re in full compliance with all regulations.
Long story short, now is the time to get your major donors thinking about matching gifts and how they can tremendously boost your low-dollar revenue. It’s a win-win proposition, with higher-dollar donors making a real impact, and lower-dollar donors knowing that their more modest gifts will go further to help your cause.
No excuses this year!