Online Fundraising Ideas: Harness The Power Of Matching Donations!posted on 09/02/2009 by Ethan Austin
When I started my GiveForward fundraiser, one of the first things I did was send a message to some of my more high profile friends on Facebook. Not only did this generate some great exposure for my cause (helping to defray medical expenses for a friend with cancer), but it also got me started on a great fundraising strategy. One of my more wealthy Facebook friends immediately posted my appeal on her page and threw in a little extra incentive of her own. It went something like this:
“This is a really important cause that deserves our support. Please go to GiveForward and make a donation today. Then, come back here and post a comment saying how much you donated. If you all can generate $500, I’ll match that with $500 of my own. Let’s make it happen!”
By the end of that day, the $500 was donated and matched, getting us off to a great start. Over the next 90 days, my fellow fundraisers and I put this strategy to work several times and found it to be very successful. Here is a quick and easy guide to making matching donation incentives work for you:
- Secure the funds to make your challenge. If you know someone who would like to make a large donation to your cause, ask them if they’d be willing to put up the money as a matching donation incentive. The size of the incentive may vary according to the scale of your fundraiser, but ideally it should be large enough that several “average” sized donations are needed to reach the mark. If you don’t have a single donor with the resources to put up a large incentive, work with your inner circle – those closest to your cause – and pool some money together.
- Make the challenge. The best time to make a matching donation challenge is when you are introducing the fundraiser to a new audience. This can be done online – through a blog or a social networking site – or in real life – at any event where you’ll have the opportunity to speak with or in front of a lot of potential donors.
- Set a time limit. Give your target audience a sense of urgency about meeting the challenge. For example, if you’re hosting a house party for your fundraiser, the sponsor of the challenge can require that all challenge donations be made before the end of the party. In the case of online challenges, anywhere from two days to one week is usually a good span of time. Anything more than a week is probably too long.
- Match the incentive to the audience. If you’re making the challenge to a room full of corporate executives and investment bankers, a $10,000 challenge is probably reasonable. If you’re at a family picnic – assuming your family isn’t a financial dynasty – scale it down a bit. The best motivation is a challenge that seems within reach.
- If your target audience falls short of the challenge, don’t worry. Ask your sponsor to match the lesser amount that was donated and save the rest of the money for another challenge to be made later on. Again, any time you’re reaching out to a new pool of potential donors is a good time to make a matching donation challenge. Keep at it and you’ll be doubling your fundraising power in no time!