Finding Your Perfect Match

In today’s competitive fundraising environment, matching gifts are everywhere.  Some might even say that fundraising and matching gifts go hand and hand – are birds of a feather – a perfect match, if you will, especially at this critical time of year.

But with the opportunity to have your gift doubled (tripled, quadrupled, and so on) literally everywhere – your match must stand out more than the rest.

But how do you do that when everyone is relying on the same messaging platform?

And beyond that, matching gifts are not always easy to secure (#amIright?).  Even though we build our annual plans assuming we’ll have a match in specific campaigns throughout the year, they can sneak up on us, and we aren’t always able to get what we need.  So, what do you do when you don’t have a match?  Or your match doesn’t meet your goal?  These are great questions, and we aim to help answer these in an entire blog series devoted to all things matching gifts.


In our first installment, we are focusing on various ways to position a matching gift because, let’s face it, words matter.  When donors have so many choices of who to support, and when – providing compelling (and motivating!) reasons to support your organization are critical.

So, in today’s noisy marketplace, what are proven messaging strategies that will get noticed?

  • Leveraging a large donor gift to incentivize other giving. Everyone loves a challenge, so feel comfortable testing whether a little friendly competition across audiences, or even localized to specific regions, can drive response and revenue for your organization.
  • Allowing your match to work in ways outside of direct giving. Often matching gifts can serve as a conduit for more than just immediate dollars – but also for prompting action in other capacities.
  • Get creative! With so many matches being promoted, especially around #GivingTuesday and calendar year end, think outside the box for ways to get your message/offer to stand out from the rest. The road less traveled might just lead to a pot of gold.


So now that we have some creative juices flowing, let’s talk a bit about tactics within each of these concepts.

Incentivizing donors to give more through a matching gift is a powerful way to unlock additional giving capacity.  In our experience, there are two strategies that work best to elicit the desired response.

  • Challenge Match Offer: “Jane Donor has given $250,000 and challenged us to raise an equal or greater amount by X date.”
  • Lead Gift Offer:  “Jane Donor has given $75,000 towards our goal of $150,000 – we’re halfway there! – will you help us meet our goal by X date?”
    • The total amount goal is a derivative of the original gift, so consider a goal of $XXX*1.6 or $XXX*1.8 since people are more likely to give when a goal is closer to being met.


But wait, there’s more.  With a matching gift, organizations can also get supporters primed for other actions, like:

  • Leveraging monthly giving with your matching gift. “If you become a monthly donor by X date, Jane Donor will match your first X monthly gifts.”
  • Offering a P2P fundraising match. “Every dollar you raise by X date will be matched dollar for dollar.”
  • A lead generation/action-oriented ask. “For every holiday greeting message collected to send to YOUR ORGANIZATION, Jane Donor will donate $X.”
    • On the lander for the message and supporter contact info, leverage a small gift that would also be matched to incentivize going one step further and making a gift.



And, who doesn’t love their dollar to go further?  There are several examples that help stretch dollars to create greater overall revenue delivered to your bottom line.

  • Bargain matching gifts.  We all love a discount.  In this messaging framework, the match is framed as a “discount” so the donors feel as if their gift goes further to meet the need (an especially powerful strategy with lower dollar donors).
    • Example: bowls of dog food that normally cost $1/each are marked down to $.50 during the match.
  •  No match, no cry. We have all been there…the expected match falls through.  One creative way to drive a lift (over non-match strategies) is to leverage the donor’s last gift as an individual match, asking them to match their last gift.  While we have not seen this strategy beat traditional matching gift offers, we have found it to be very successful compared to non-match messaging.
  • Flash Matches. For lower dollar donors, large matching gifts can be off-putting, potentially making the donor feel like their gift isn’t impactful.  Breaking matching gifts up into smaller ”flash matches,” offered for a short period of time to specific audiences, can be a powerful way to lift overall performance and revenue generated from lower dollar donors.


As you can see, the ways to successfully leverage a matching gift offer are vast and varied – and it will likely take some testing in order to determine what works best for your organization.  And, if your organization is like the many who already have some successful matching gift campaigns as part of your line-up, don’t just assume they are performing at their peak – with increased competition in the market, it is more important than ever to validate, test and repeat.


And don’t fret, our matching gift soapbox is far from over, because we are so passionate about the value of this offer and there’s so much more to share.  In our next blog series installment, read more about how to fund your next match in “Why Can’t I Find My Match?”


MINDset direct is a full-service direct marketing firm specializing in non-profit fundraising. Our work is fueled by collaboration, innovation and the strong relationships we have with our clients. Together, we are working to make the world a better place. Learn more at



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Candice Briddell

Candice Briddell, Managing Partner and Co-Owner, has worked within the fundraising and marketing industry for nearly twenty years and has been a part of the MINDset team for over a decade. Prior to that, she was integral in the retention marketing program at AOL.