A matching gift challenge campaign is a proven way of motivating donors to give and feel like they’re getting a deal. But who wants to hear “double your impact!” one more time? Not me, that’s for sure.

Learn how to market matching gifts to motivate new and existing donors with our tips and examples of messaging from real nonprofits. It’s time to meet your perfect match.

Matching Gift vs. Matching Gift Challenge

In the world of nonprofit fundraising, certain terms can get a little muddled. On one hand, there are corporate matching gifts offered by companies. These programs match a portion of an employee’s donation to qualifying charitable organizations.

On the other hand, there are matching gift or matching donation challenges that nonprofits themselves use to solicit donations (like Giving Tuesday matching donations). In this case, a donor or foundation has typically promised to give a set amount of money or a grant if the organization can raise an equal or greater amount. Each challenge is different depending on the terms of the match.

One of the core benefits of running a matching gift challenge campaign is that donors feel like they are doing double the good when making a gift: not only are they supporting the cause but also helping you access even more money because they gave. It’s a special kind of incentive that can motivate new and returning donors (and even your board members) to participate in an annual appeal, awareness day or even a local giving day or Giving Tuesday.

Marketing a Matching Gift Challenge Campaign

Once your organization has secured a matching gift from a major donor or other funder, it’s time to put together the goals and marketing tactics of your campaign. The big picture goal is pretty clear (meet the match), but you could also consider secondary goals like getting new donors to give or increasing participation from email and social media.

Like any marketing strategy, the goals will inform the types of messaging and content channels you’ll use throughout the campaign. Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll also need to collaborate with fundraisers and executive leadership to set goals and tactics.

Develop Core Messages

As you think about how you’ll present the matching gift challenge to your supporters, you’ll want to have the following messaging points nailed down.

  • Does the challenge need a name? For example: “The 20 for 20 Matching Gift Challenge”
  • Will you identify the person/entity offering the match? If so, is there a story behind their gift that you can share?
  • What are the match rules? For example, will the match only apply to new donors or past donors who make a larger gift?
  • What is the matching gift ratio (1:1, 2:1)?
  • What is the timeline for the challenge?
  • What happens when you meet the match?

In addition to these details, start to brainstorm how you can market the match in a way that’s specific to your cause. One of the reasons that I cringe at using “double your impact” is that it’s hard to really know what that means for a mission. Maybe the matching gift turns 12 meals into 24 for a hungry family, or offers school books to 2 classrooms instead of 1. This is the real challenge for folks wearing the marketing/creative person hat.

Determine Content Needs

Once you’ve bundled up your messaging, it’s time to decide where you’re going to talk about the campaign based on the people you want to reach. Most matching gift challenge campaigns will use a combination of the following channels and content types to spread the word.

  • Landing page on your website, where you explain the match with a donation form
  • Calls to action across your website, like on the homepage, in a blog post, and on a “Ways to Give” page, that drive visitors to the landing page
  • Website pop-up window or alert bar that lets people know about an urgent giving opportunity with a link to your online donation form
  • Promotional emails that tell potential donors about the match and what it would mean for your cause. (Don’t forget to use a stand-out subject line!)
  • Social media posts on your core platforms, using strong visuals and linking back to your website for people to take action
  • Press releases are an option, especially if you’ve promised publicity to the major donor or funder providing the match. (Even If you don’t get any media coverage, you can use your blog to publish the release.)
  • Newsletters, either in print or email, can contain a special feature on the match
  • Direct mail to your supporter list could prompt online and offline giving. If the match has specific rules for new or existing donors, try to segment your mailings and messaging accordingly. 
  • Donor acknowledgment and follow-up, like thank you letters and social media posts that let people know the final outcome of the challenge and give a shout out to the funder who made it possible.

Examples of Matching Gift Challenge Language

Access our swipe file of ideas that you can use next time you’re running a matching gift campaign. See real matching campaign examples from 23 different nonprofits, including web page content, blogs, press releases, emails and social media posts.

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Measuring Campaign Success

In addition to hitting your fundraising target, it’s a good idea to measure what worked and what didn’t in your marketing so that you can craft a better plan next time around. Once your matching gift challenge has ended, refer back to your campaign goals in order to pull together some basic metrics on how things went and to set some benchmarks for your next campaign:

  • Total number of donors
  • Number and total of donations by source (direct mail, email, social media, search)
  • Average gift size
  • Time it took to meet the match

Another measure of success to consider is the level of satisfaction and delight from the donor, foundation or partner who offered the match. Check in to make sure they feel appreciated and updated on the campaign’s success. A good experience is an important part of deepening your relationship with them.

Done well, matching gift challenge campaigns feel a little like fundraising magic to your donors and your nonprofit. The key is to use poignant and powerful messaging to break through the noise and motivate your supporters to jump in on a special opportunity.

Have you run into issues trying to communicate about matching gifts? What kind of messaging do you think works best for matching gift challenges? Double your fun and learning in the comments.