Do you want more matching gifts? Yes? Well, then today I’m gifting you a guest post by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation.
In a less professional world, you and 12 friends could paint ‘MATCHING GIFTS’ on your bare chests and parade around town. Everyone would learn about how easy it is to double their donations, and as a bonus, you might also get arrested. Not in Oregon though. Male and female nudity is free speech! :). Picture below from the Naked bike ride in 2012.
For better or for worse, we live in a world where painted chests belong at sports games (or naked bike rides) and matching gifts need to be promoted in other ways. That’s not to say that you can’t get creative with your nonprofit marketing in order to grab people’s attention.
One of the easiest, most effective ways to raise awareness for matching gifts is through letters. Both online and offline, letters can provide detailed information about matching gifts that helps donors understand how easy and how important it is to submit matching gift requests.
Letter #1 – Acknowledgement emails
When life gives you generous donors, make them thank you notes.
Email is a fast, efficient way to demonstrate your gratefulness directly after a donation is made. Acknowledgement emails can be templates in which you insert a donor’s name and perhaps a few other bits of information in order to deliver a personal touch.
The key is to show your appreciation. Matching gift donors could be former prospects, volunteers, or fundraisers, and they all deserve a good pat on the back. Once goodwill has been built, you can make an appeal for matching gifts.
The letter should focus on the thank you, and the matching gift appeal should be kept to a minimum. However, adding matching gift appeals to thank you notes can serve as the reminder that donors need to take the time to make their donations go twice as far.
Here is a sample acknowledgement email from Piedmont Healthcare:
A matching gift appeal in an acknowledgement letter could be as simple as:
Thanking donors is one of the keys to donor retention. When you thank them, you’re also extending them a courtesy by giving them the chance to give more without giving any more of their own money. They want to help your cause as much as possible, and you don’t want to leave easy money on the table.
When to send: After a donation.
Who to send to: Recent donors.
Why to send: Thank you for a donation and to make a matching gift appeal.
Letter #2 – Thank you letters and postcards
You might call direct mail snail mail, but what snail mail lacks in speed it more than makes up for in emotional impact.
People know when you’re sending them an automated message. Direct mailings could be automated messages, too, but there are ways to prove to donors that your direct mailings have been touched by real people that can’t be accomplished through email.
While you won’t have the time to hand write every thank you letter or postcard, merely signing your name at the bottom can do wonders to let donors know that you took personal time out of your day to attend to thanking them for their generous gifts. Caring doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to come across.
Direct mail is more expensive than email, due to the price of stamps, so you may not want to mail to everyone. Prospect research can help to reveal which donors are eligible for matching gifts, so you aren’t sending special letters to people who won’t be able to send a matching gift.
Other people worth mailing to are donors who you know prefer direct mail to email. Many older donors still prefer direct mail, and will be more receptive to matching gift appeals made through this medium. Another thing that not many people know is that online donors prefer to move offline as quickly as possible. Even online donors like offline contact.
When to send: After a donation.
Who to send to: Matching gift eligible donors who prefer direct mail to email.
Why to send: Some donors prefer tangible materials to electronic communications.
Letter #3 – Paper inserts with other communications
Incorporating matching gift appeals into emails and direct mailings entails editing your current marketing materials. The alternative is to create entirely new materials that can accompany your established donor letters.
Here’s a sample matching gift insert from the National Kidney Foundation:
Paper inserts can be mailed along with almost any direct mail communication. You might send donors magazines, acknowledgment letters, or volunteer information, and with each communication you can include a paper insert to remind them of the possibility of matching gifts.
Even for people who don’t donate, including a paper insert in a direct mailing can help to encourage them to give. Including matching gifts in fundraising appeals increases response rates by 71%, and those donations are 51% higher in average amount.
Reminding donors about matching gifts can help boost your fundraising, but reaching out to people who have yet to give can do a world of good for your nonprofit, too.
When to send: Any time you send a communication through direct mail.
Who to send to: Prospects and donors.
Why to send: Raise awareness for matching gifts to boost fundraising.
Letter #4 – Newsletters
Many nonprofits use formal newsletters to keep donors up to date on all the happenings about the organization. Matching gifts are worth a dedicated email just to announce the opportunity.
The best strategy is to dedicate one or two newsletters a year, depending on how many you send, entirely to matching gifts. Check out this example from CMT.
Think of this equation. One email, one goal.
When newsletters have a singular focus, donors are less likely to be distracted by news of your recent fundraiser or listings of upcoming volunteer opportunities. By focusing on matching gifts, donors have one call to action to pay attention to, and thus one action to take on their minds.
That said, split newsletters can work, and certainly help to save newsletter real estate. Splitting might mean that matching gifts share a newsletter with one or many other topics. You might even choose to include a matching gift appeal as a sort of banner ad along the side of the newsletter.
Just like with thank you letters, split up email and direct mailing of newsletters to those donors who best respond to the respective mediums.
It’s best to send matching gift newsletters during the times of year when the most donations come in, as you’ll reach more people at times when they’re in the giving mindset.
When to send: Once or twice throughout the year. Why not pick a slow time, like August, or May?
Who to send to: Donors and volunteers.
Why to send: Keep donors up to date about your nonprofit’s matching gift policies and need for additional funds.
Letter #5 – Year end and new year appeals
Timing matters. Depending on how your nonprofit times its letters, your organization stands to either build more meaningful relationships or miss out on opportunities to do this.
Many donors prefer to give at the end of the year. This is when people tend to be most aware of their finances in terms of how much money they’ve spent over the prior twelve months and how much they have left to give. A lot of businesses and nonprofits also make their big pushes for donations during the last months of the year.
Year end appeals can mix calls for donations with matching gift appeals. These letters aim to encourage people to give while reminding them that matching gifts will help to deliver the biggest impacts possible. Year end appeals can be tailored for the time of year, in terms of embracing any seasonal holidays or other special occasions in regards to the language used and the layout of the communication.
New year appeals are similar to year end appeals, but they tend to focus on reminding donors to seek matching gifts more so than doing that in tandem with encouraging donations.
Many people have already given for the year, and the start of the new year is an ideal time to reach out to everyone who has donated in order to remind them that they can still do a little bit more to help your cause.
When to send: End of the year and start of the new year.
Who to send to: High quality prospects and current donors.
Why to send: Encourage donations and remind donors about the possibility of a matching gift.
There are many ways to acquire more matching gifts, but none may be able to attain as personal of a touch as letters. To check out more ways to write appeal letters, see these posts: