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  • Debra A. Gill

The Magic of Matching Grants

Doubling donor dollars creates a tremendous incentive.



One of my clients is at a critical tipping point in their campaign. As they approach their final goal, they have been generously offered a $1 million matching grant, with, fortunately, a deadline to raise the other $1 million. Nothing generates more urgency and energy than a cutoff date when it comes to fund raising.


This gift has created the perfect opportunity to connect with donors, some of whom have given and some of whom have not, to share the exciting news that their donation – and their impact – will be doubled if they contribute before the deadline. Undecided donors are re-engaged. Existing donors are considering adding to their gifts.


The common theme – everyone wants to make sure the organization gets the matching grant, putting them $2 million closer to wrapping up the campaign than they were before this timely offer came to fruition. The key is to keep the remaining balance needed current and present in all conversations.


The most effective method of meeting this match will be face-to-face conversations with those most capable of making significant contributions (connection, ability, inclination). Looking donors in the eye – particularly if it can be during a tour of the construction site – and inviting them to give at a specific stretch level is vastly more fruitful than social media or other indirect solicitation methods.


And the best part is that each new gift will spur the next as the momentum builds, particularly if various sectors get involved such as banks or other corporations and even foundations. This is the perfect time to emphasize remaining recognition opportunities as well with a spotlight on donor appreciation and celebrating the successes of the previous campaign phases.


Whether it is a campaign, the annual fund, or even a cash call at an event, matching grants and challenge gifts are often the stimulus to gain the attention of new and existing donors and draw them into the giving frenzy. These strategies shouldn’t be overused, or their impact will be diluted, and it is essential to understand the parameters, including how much of the gift will be issued if the full match isn’t received, if the deadline can be extended, and if there are any restrictions on qualifying matching gifts.


When these details are ironed out – as is the case with the client featured here – the result will be a strengthened culture of philanthropy as staff, volunteers, and donors celebrate meeting the match and closing the gap on their campaign goal.


Alliance Philanthropy’s philosophy is to inspire staff, volunteers, and board members for all types of not-for-profit organizations to raise funds enthusiastically and passionately - at maximum levels - in support of their missions.

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