At some point in your fundraising career, you’ve likely heard great things about the use of matched giving in appeals. Not only are you ‘guaranteed’ a significant gift thanks to the generosity of an amazing supporter or an organisation that believes in your cause and has agreed to match donations to an agreed level, it’s also an incredible incentive for others to give more—knowing that their own gifts will be stretched.
In one of our client’s recent appeals, we undertook a split test to measure the impact of a matched giving ask. It went something like this…
“A generous supporter who wishes to remain anonymous has contacted us and pledged to match every dollar you donate to us before Friday, 26 August—up to a total value of $100,000.
It’s an incredible offer that has the potential to save many lives, and I urgently need you to please act quickly to help us make the most of it.
Please donate $50 today, and your dollars will be doubled—enabling us to invest up to $100 in vital medical equipment needed to save children like Amy.”
As you’ll see below the matched giving (TEST) group generated a higher response rate, average gift and overall income compared to the control packs:
This response rate was significantly different with a 99% confidence.
Does this mean that matched giving is the answer to all our fundraising prayers?
We observed these same donors in the next appeal (where everyone received a regular appeal letter) and found that the group that received the matched giving pack in the previous appeal did not respond as well. As you’ll see in the table below, this same group now had a lower response rate, average gift and overall income compared to those who did not receive the matched giving pack in the last appeal:
So what does this mean?
Supporters who gave to the matched giving test essentially brought forward their donations from the next appeal.The matched giving test received extra gifts as a result of the matched giving offer itself—but in effect, reduced the number of gifts and income to the subsequent appeal.
However, this does not mean that matched giving does not work. While the results may have shown that warm donors bring their gifts forward because of matched giving, it also shows that matched giving can work to increase giving for that appeal—and this could be a great tactic for charities that want increased donations at a specific point in time, for example, during major appeals like Christmas.
Matched giving could also be used for acquisition campaigns—another one of our clients used matched giving for an event and managed to raise $378K over nearly 6,000 donations (excluding the matched gifts) versus $160K over 2,000 donations for the same timeframe in the year prior. Matched giving is a great way to get one-off gifts from people who don’t usually donate.
So, matched giving may not be the answer to all of your prayers. It may have a role, but understand the subsequent impact it may have and ensure you monitor behaviour in the long-term as well as immediately. Similarly, consider the long-term impact of any controlled tests, not just the initial result.