When it comes to Giving Tuesday matching donations, do you immediately think about trying to score the elusive Facebook match? As many organizations have discovered, putting all of your fundraising eggs (and marketing hype) in that basket is likely to end in disappointment. For Giving Tuesday 2020, offer your own matching gift challenge instead.

The Appeal of Giving Tuesday Matching Donations

In an earlier post on matching gift challenge campaigns, we discussed how offering a dollar-for-dollar or other type of match can motivate donors to give and make them feel like double the hero. It can also be a great way to build a relationship with the kind of major donor, partner or sponsor who wants to be a catalyst for something big and exciting for your mission.

Why Giving Tuesday 2020 is different

It will come as no surprise to hear that it’s been a challenging fundraising year across the nonprofit sector. While some found success in transitioning to virtual events and programming, others have had to put a hold on plans to raise money or start a capital campaign, not to mention let go of staff or cut back on services. Even with the #GivingTuesdayNow event back in May, this year’s regular Giving Tuesday (December 1, 2020) could be crowded—and may even seem a little panicked.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some organizations avoid it completely, while others sign on last-minute to participate for the first time. Either way, you can count on your supporters being inundated with online and offline donation requests throughout the year-end appeal season.

Running your own matching gift challenge

All that to say, this is definitely not the year to put all your fundraising hopes in the hands of someone else, including a seemingly huge pot of Facebook funds that everyone is eying. Creating your own match gives you more control and an opportunity to craft your campaign in ways that work best for your donors.

And while offering Giving Tuesday matching donations is far from a new idea, what better time to give it a try than a year when most people are looking for creative ways to stretch their dollars?

Get Ready for Matching Gifts in 5 Steps

Even with 60 days to go, there’s still time to nail down a benefactor for a matching campaign that can help you stand out on Giving Tuesday. Here’s how to get a game plan in place pronto for your organization.

Step 1: Choose a specific theme or angle to motivate your target audience

Some of the most successful Giving Tuesday fundraisers ask donors to give to a specific cause, program or tangible need. For such a short-term campaign, especially in crowdfunding, making an ask for something concrete vs. a general donation can motivate people to help you cross the finish line. 

As you start to outline what your matching gift challenge looks like, start by identifying your target audience for this particular campaign. (Hint: it’s not “the general public” and is more likely to be people who’ve given before.) From there, consider what kind of goal would most excite them to give in this moment in time.

Step 2: Map out how the campaign aligns with your year-end appeal

With Giving Tuesday happening in December this year, your campaign is likely going to land right in the middle of year-end or holiday fundraising appeals. Account for your matching gift challenge in the big picture of your year-end fundraising plan so that you aren’t sending mixed messages or inundating supporters with too many requests. You could even consider using the matching gift beyond Giving Tuesday to make the most of your appeals.

Step 3: Explore potential match providers and nail down the “rules”

The person or entity providing your matching funds can take many forms, but it’s probably a relationship that’s already established: dedicated donor, board member (or the entire board), an existing partner or a corporate sponsor. Make sure that you’re being thoughtful about who you approach based on the goal or angle of your campaign.

Here are some additional resources to help:

Once you’ve landed your match, make sure that you solidify any rules around what kinds and sizes of gifts qualify depending on the provider’s wishes and your own fundraising goals. These will be important to communicate in your messaging and how you track your final amount of money raised to meet the match. Be sure to ask the donor or sponsor how they’d like to be acknowledged, too.

Step 4: Create marketing materials to spread the word

With any luck, you’ll now have at least thirty days to put together the marketing content you’ll need to promote Giving Tuesday matching donations. Consider the best ways to reach your target audience leading up to Giving Tuesday and the day of the event itself. Depending on who you’re trying to reach, your materials might include:

  • A landing page or blog post on your nonprofit’s website that promotes the match
  • Other Giving Tuesday website updates, like an announcement on your homepage, campaign-specific donation form, and a short-term website pop-up
  • Pre-written social media messages that are scheduled ahead of time using a tool like Buffer
  • A series of emails targeted at your specific audience (consider automating these if you can!)
  • A promotional blurb for your organizational newsletter
  • Direct mail pieces to land before Giving Tuesday, like a postcard or letter
  • Digital graphics or photos to use in your materials

Step 5: Get your donor and funder follow-up plan in place

Last but not least, do yourself a favor and have a plan (or at least a pre-written message) ready for how you’re going to thank people who donate to the match. Folks will want to know if they helped you meet the goal and feel like a part of the success. You’ll also want to have a point person for communicating with the matching fund provider and maintaining the relationship.

Example Timeline

Wondering how to get it all done in the next two months? Here’s a breakdown of how you might spend your time:

  • Spend a week getting your theme or fundraising angle nailed down and making sure it fits with your year-end appeals.
  • Give yourself two weeks to approach and confirm potential match providers along with any accompanying rules about the match.
  • Getting creative and putting together content can take time from conception, to review, to finalizing things, so plan for three weeks here, especially if you’re mailing anything.
  • Now that most of the campaign is ready to roll, use a week to thoughtfully work on your follow-up materials.
  • The final week is your time to shine! Most Giving Tuesday campaigns don’t need a lot of early communication, so use the final week to start promotion via your website, email and social media.

Matching Fund Campaign Examples

If you need inspiration as you plan your strategy and campaign content, check out how other nonprofits have marketed their Giving Tuesday matching donations.

  • Beyond Hunger created a landing page on their website for a Giving Tuesday matching donation campaign.
  • ZERO used their website to outline different ways for supporters to help them meet a Giving Tuesday matching gift challenge.
  • Leave No Trace used a matching gift to encourage participation thanks to a Giving Tuesday corporate partnership with KEEN
  • Water Docs also posted about their board-sponsored matching funds with a focus on a specific program and stats about the impact of giving.
  • New Hampshire SPCA created a simple video for social media to help drum up interest in their dollar-for-dollar Giving Tuesday match. (They exceeded their goal of $30,000!)

This year, put your organization in the driver’s seat when it comes to Giving Tuesday matching donations. There’s still time to create a strategy that captures the attention of your supporters and motivates them to give so that there’s double the impact. But if you find yourself in a tough spot as we creep closer to the big day, we’ve got you covered with a plan for a last-minute campaign.

Have you leveraged Giving Tuesday matching donations with success? Is your organization participating in Giving Tuesday this year? Why or why not? Hop into the comments below.