Borrow & Match

Think about borrowing — that is my best online fundraising advice.

ThermometerHere’s what I mean: watch what the major nonprofits or large political campaigns are doing and test a similar version with your audience. Large organizations have the budget and list size to run all sorts of tests from button color to ask amount. Borrowing one of their well-tested tactics can help your year-end fundraising campaign level up.

One tried and still true tactic I love to borrow is the “matching gift campaign.” Local NPR affiliates across the country are the masters of the matching gift campaign. Here’s their typical ask:

“If we can raise $200,000 in the next two hours, an anonymous donor will give us an additional $200,000, doubling every donor’s impact. We don’t want to lose this important opportunity. Now is your chance to double your impact for the news you depend on.”

NPR’s matching gift campaigns are urgent, exciting, concrete, and they work.

Want to test one with your audience? You need more than just the pledge of a gift from a major donor to serve as your match. To borrow this campaign for your organization, you also need to:

  1. Set a reachable yet impactful goal with a deadline. This is tricky. You want to set a goal that is impactful for your organization, exciting for your audience, and actually obtainable. Not reaching your goal during your match campaign is deflating for your organization and your audience. Reaching your goal too quickly means that you left money on the table.
  2. Remember, your goal does not have to be a financial goal! Your goal can also be for number of new donors or number of new members. For example: “We have an anonymous donor who is excited about building a movement for _______(insert your specific mission) and will donate $200,000, if we can find 200,000 new donors by Friday. It doesn’t matter how small or large your gift is, it just matters that you donate today!”
  3. Be very concrete about the impact any gift will have. You have heard this before, but it is worth repeating. As with any fundraising campaign, being specific about the impact a donation will have is key to fundraising success.
  4. Ask repeatedly & show your progress. Ask often! Send follow-up emails to everyone on your list daily (or several times on the last day) during your match campaign. Make sure you include where you are in your campaign, e.g. “we only need 10 new members to reach our goal” or “we are halfway there!” Have a thermometer on your donation page that updates automatically to show progress and urgency.

So, hop to it!  Only three months until Giving Tuesday!