Knowing When Your Match Isn’t Right For You

Matching gifts are awesome … it’s true.  But they aren’t the perfect panacea, and sometimes, they can do harm to your program.

Over-reliance on this proven strategy can be a bit like premiums, where donors become “trained” to only give when there is a match.  Because this is a tricky situation for organizations to work their way out of once it happens, it’s best to use a thoughtful approach for how and when to employ matching gift campaigns within your program.  (Word of extra caution – consider the “surround sound” that your donors are receiving across all channels.)


With a nod to our last post, the importance of testing in your matching gift campaigns is a critical part of the equation.  Testing will steer you in the direction of identifying the right time and the right campaigns to include a matching gift offer – and the results could surprise you.


For example, many organizations utilize a matching gift at year end.  Testing we have done with several organizations indicates that the seasonality and urgency of year end can stand on its own for some and the power of the matching gift can be ported to a softer time of year.  This shift in strategies can create another strong response driver in an otherwise challenging time of year, enabling more stable cashflow.  Obviously, this approach would need to be tested for your program, but it can be a great alternative for organizations who have access to only one matching gift per year.

Speaking of limitations around access to matching gifts, we know that it can be a struggle to obtain a matching gift (you can find more about that here).  In our experience, a large part of this challenge can be avoided with significant pre-planning.  Fortunately, annual budgets and communication calendars are typically developed far in advance of specific campaign planning.  During this early planning process, discuss the origin/amount of the match suggested so the larger development team has the time required to facilitate the gifts needed as part of the larger campaign strategy.  Of course, this doesn’t mean there may not be opportunities for additional strategic matches/added campaigns through the year, but it does mean your anchor campaigns will have plenty of time to be funded to ensure maximum results.


Over the past several weeks, we have discussed some of our basic thoughts around matching gift strategy.  But honestly, this is just scratching the surface…we could go on.  If you want to talk more about matching gifts, reach out to Erica directly to continue the conversation at                 


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.