Now is the time to find your match.

Matching gift campaigns are not new.  Many nonprofit organizations have used matching gifts to help incentivize new donors to make a first gift and lapsed donors to renew.

But matching gift campaigns can also motivate major donors, board members and family foundations to offer a large matching gift to help leverage their investment in your work, because they know it will motivate more donors to give.

Now is the time to contact major donors to encourage them to provide matching gifts for you to use as part of your fall acquisition and renewal campaign strategies to encourage higher response rates and increased giving.

Do Matching Gifts Work?

John A. List, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, conducted some often-quoted in-market tests to help assess the performance of matching gifts.

"People underestimate the importance of matching gifts," List says. "If you can say to people that their dollar is worth more than before, then a matching gift becomes more important."

In one study, which solicited responses from more than 50,000 donors to a single nonprofit, List and his col­league Dean Karlan found that matching gifts increase both revenue and response rates.

Double beats triple.

Interestingly, the study found that larger match ratios-for example, offering $2 or $3 in matching funds for every $1 donated, did not spur donors to give more.  And, the study also found that while the matching gift did increase donations (19% per solicitation), along with the probability that an individual will make a donation (by 22%), the amount of the match made little difference.

Other experts recommend that you limit matching gift efforts to once or twice and year with a  “named campaign,” such as “Annual Holiday Matching Gift Campaign.”

Whatever you decide, you should do your own testing to ensure that you are leveraging the matching gift campaign to maximize donor support.

John Payne