With Giving Tuesday just around the corner, we wanted to highlight one of its fundraising stars — matching funds.
We know, we know. Asking for funds, especially during a global pandemic can be awkward, and some people view offering to match funds as a little too “sales-y”, a ploy used by pretty much every company around the holiday season.
But those who have tried have had a lot of success by implementing a matching fund campaign.
That’s a lot of potential funds nonprofits are leaving on the table by not offering any type of matching opportunities for donations.
The good news about matching funds on Giving Tuesday is that there are a lot of free and affordable resources you can use to help create, promote, and track your efforts, and there’s a lot of community support for these types of big events.
Here is a quick rundown of the “who, how, and why” of setting up a fund matching campaign during Giving Tuesday.
Why go with a matching fund for Giving Tuesday?
An estimated $4 – $7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed every year. Matching funds can help motivate donors who are on the fence about giving. Many people feel better about donating if they know — and can see — their gift being doubled.
Plus, it’s a show of good faith. Donors like to see nonprofits walk-the-walk and show the same generosity of spirit organizations are asking for.
Who do you approach about matching funds for Giving Tuesday?
Utilize Donors’ Workplaces
Many companies have started offering charitable incentive awards for things like employee referrals, holiday gifts, etc. In your giving letters or Giving Tuesday emails (more on those in a second), ask donors to check and see if their employers offer a matching fund. (And if they’re unsure, you can send them this free matching tool.) This is one of the easiest options — it’s basically free money considering you don’t have to do anything other than asking donors to do a little bit of research.
Wondering how? Here’s an example from the Children’s Myopathy Foundation showing how you can ask your social followers if their companies match funds:
Partner with Local Companies
And you don’t have to stop at reaching out to companies via your existing donors. You can also identify which companies in your area are matching their donors’ funds, and reach out to them to see if they would be willing to help share your cause in exchange for your promotion of their efforts.
Or, reach out to local companies that you’ve worked with in the past (maybe via sponsorship or in-kind donations) and see if they’d be willing to contribute again.
Here’s an example of this type of partnership seen on Facebook from the Harbor Humane Society:
Engage your Current Major Donors
Many nonprofits double down on their Giving Tuesday efforts by combining it with targeted outreach to major donors. You can send an email or a letter asking if donors would like their gift to be used as a matching gift. It can be the amount they normally give or you can ask for an additional gift that’s specific to an urgent need.
Here’s an example email from the Toronto Cat Rescue that touches on Giving Tuesday, matching funds, and urgent needs due to COVID-19:
BONUS: Click here to download The Perfect Donation Letter Template and Example!
Ask Existing Board Members or Volunteers
The good news about you asking board members and volunteers of your organization if they’d like to donate a matching gift is that you already know they believe in your mission. The awkward side is that, if they say “no”, you still have to work with them.
Still, sending an email informing the board, staff, and volunteers of upcoming campaigns and telling them how they can participate is a great way to keep everyone informed of how you’re working to achieve your organization’s goals and give them an opportunity to donate.
How do you ask for matching funds on Giving Tuesday?
Since Giving Tuesday started as a social media event, many nonprofits start their promotions there, specifically, on Facebook. But #GivingTuesday has trended on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, too.
Here’s an example of a #GivingTuesday social post that was posted toward the beginning of November to inspire followers to look ahead to the official Giving Tuesday on December 1, while also encouraging them to not wait to give:
Even though Giving Tuesday always has a strong presence on social media platforms, email campaigns have become a very popular way to raise awareness about Giving Tuesday, accept donations through the email platform, track engagement, and capture data.
After diving into some of the best examples of Giving Tuesday emails we could find, we saw a few common features across the most successful emails. We encourage you to keep these tips in mind as you craft your email campaigns:
Include a call-to-action (CTA) they can’t miss. Usually, emails end with a CTA button with the direction to “DONATE NOW” or “GET MATCHED”. If you want to ensure people see the CTA, include a link to it a few times in the email.
Host a special Giving Tuesday virtual event. It could be a virtual game of trivia, a virtual auction, or a special speaker event. You can feature recipients of past gifts, testimonials from partners, and, of course, can promote your gift matching campaign.
With all of your efforts on social media and email, don’t feel like you have to overhaul your website. A simple ribbon at the top of your homepage or a landing page that goes over the basics (such as “Giving Tuesday is 12/1, and we’re matching gifts until Christmas!”) is enough to help your visitors get the message.
Some companies go as far as to create special Giving Tuesday taglines and visuals they strategically place on their website. That can be fun, but we’ve found it’s most important to make your message and the details of your matching program clear and consistent.
6 Best Practices for a Matching Fund Campaign
Now that you’re an expert on the basics of matching gifts, here are some best practices for the road:
Explain what Giving Tuesday is and why it’s a good time for a matching gift. Set the context.
Make sure you come prepared with the results you want to achieve. Explain the impact their matching gift will have on your organization. Be honest about what happens if you don’t meet the matching needs. Be explicit about what’s in it for them, especially for companies who are participating in matching campaigns.
Specify how long the matching will last. If you’re only matching gifts on Giving Tuesday, make sure that’s clear (to both donors and the person or organization giving the matching gift). And if you’re celebrating GivingTuesday and matching gifts for a prolonged period of time, make sure to plan for promoting and engaging it pre- and post-event.
Position your matching efforts as a challenge e.g. if we reach $1000, a donor will match it! This way, donors feel an extra incentive.
Follow-up with all matched gifts by thanking donors for their generosity. It’s also nice to talk about the results of Giving Tuesday and show how their matching gift made an impact. Here’s another email example from Toronto Cat Rescue:
What are you planning on doing this year for Giving Tuesday? Let us know in the comments!