Matched Giving Magic

What’s your take on matched giving ? By matched giving I mean where a funder will match £ for £ or $ for $ donations to your cause – usually for a specific period and up to a limited amount.

I must admit at first I was a bit skeptical of such schemes. Afterall it’s not a reason donate to a cause just because someone else is going to double my donation. It will still cost me the same – and the match donor had probably allocated the funds to charity anyway.

1013510_10152081833209471_1338949102_nSolarAid, the cause I work for as Chief Fundraiser, has just completed an appeal with matched giving by the UK government through UK aid. Over a three month period donations to our Bring Me Sunshine appeal by UK residents were doubled during the dark months of December to the end of February. During a few days in December donations were matched again by the Big Give – an initiative by philanthropist Alec Reed where charities compete to use up a matched pot from a range of funders.

Here are 5 surprising effects that matched giving has had:

  1. Donations to SolarAid have been double the average compared to the same time last year (that’s before being doubled again by the matched funding and excluding major gifts).
  2. Having a deadline has helped secure major gifts during the matched giving window. It gives donors a reason to give by when and you a reason to ask. It also attracted one of our largest major gifts.
  3. Towards the end of the Big Give we were just over £3k short of our £20k target with only a few hours until the giving ended. A donor who had never given to us at that level duly stepped up and made up the difference. That made our day!
  4. A funder in the USA liked the idea so much they set up they own. The Honnold Foundation agreed to match up to $20,000 in donations to SolarAid during the same period.
  5. It helped our internal drive.  As the matched giving runs for a limited period it provides a focus with a clear start and end to an appeal.

The appeal raised just over £1.2 million – with £500k matched from Uk aid, £40k raised from the Big Give and $40k from the Honnold Foundation.

Of course there are counter concerns – will someone give less because they know the matched funder will give more? Possibly, but our little appeal suggests that’s more than outweighed by the benefits and overall more people give more. Of course there is much more to it. You really need to communicate effectively to leverage the impact – its not just about adding a line to a mail pack and expecting your donations to double.

Maybe matched giving is for the moment and the novelty will wear off. It’s not necessarily the reason why people give to a cause but having made up their mind it seems many are willing to consider the high end of what amount they had in mind to donate.

So I’m a convert. Matched giving can not only double your money it can lift the very money that is doubled! That’s magic.

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