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Double Major Donations With a Donation Matching Campaign

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Published January 23, 2017 Reading Time: 4 minutes

Perhaps the greatest edict all nonprofit organizations tend to abide by is “do more with less.” When resources are often tight, social impact organizations have to make the most of every contribution and every opportunity. As such, when your organization is poised to receive a major gift, you can not only consider how you will spend the funds, but also how you can leverage them to mobilize even more donors.

When you include matching campaigns in your conversations with major donors, you give them the opportunity to create even more impact with their gift. Learn how to identify and recruit a matching gift candidate, launch your matching campaign, and follow up with all parties to raise more money and activate donors big and small.

Find Your Match

What constitutes a “large donor” will depend on your organization, but whether your someone is giving $5,000 or $5 million, the windfall can start working for you before you spend a dime. Prospect your large donors to identify a major gift that can be leveraged for a matching campaign.

Larger gifts often come through moves management, or a system of conversations about what the money will do. When your development team has identified someone willing to give big, introduce the concept of a matching gift. Present the idea as a way for the donor’s gift to do even more. Many investors in social impact are focused on the strategic, long-term benefits of their donations, so explain how a major gift goes much further when it mobilizes many other donors.

Pro Tip
Keep your organization’s gratitude at the forefront of the conversation. Instead of “here’s what we want to do with your money,” present a matching gift as an exciting opportunity to double their money and inspire others.

Many organizations are familiar with how a matching gift motivates small donors by making them feel more powerful, but it actually does the same for the large donor. Not only will their gift support your mission, but it will generate new support and relationships for your nonprofit. Not all major donors will be open to a matching campaign, but for some of your most passionate supporters, this will be just as exciting for them as it is for you.

Launch Your Campaign

Before you announce your match, be sure to have a clear agreement with the large donor. You should be on the same page regarding what the money will support and what the donor’s role is. Verify whether the donor wants to be anonymous or if they want to help promote the matching opportunity.

With the terms set, you can start reaching out to the rest of your community for donations. Like any campaign, a soft launch with your closest supporters is a great way to start. Email your repeat donors, your recurring givers, and your fundraisers. Let them know they are the first to hear about this matching opportunity. This inner circle of support will get you on your way to maxing out the match.

From there, you can take your campaign to your wider community. The great thing about a matching campaign is that there is a sense of urgency—the knowledge that this opportunity doesn’t come around every day. Your supporters can give to your mission anytime, but with a match, they feel their donation makes a bigger impact. That’s why it’s so important to define the limits or deadline of your campaign. In most cases, a matching gift has a set maximum, but if you hit that quickly, your major donor may be willing to extend their matching support until a later deadline.

As your campaign progresses toward maxing out your matching gift, update your community through email and social media. For example, if you are leveraging a $10,000 gift as a match, you could email your supporters when you’ve raised half that.

“We’ve already reached the halfway point of our matching gift! Give now to make sure your donation and impact is doubled!”

Even with the special circumstance of a matching gift, remember your donor stewardship fundamentals. Send a prompt thank you and a donation receipt to each donor and express your gratitude on social media, too.

Follow Up for Future Success

Your follow-up process with a matching campaign is two-fold.  Update and continue to thank the many small donors to your campaign. Later on, send them impact stories and news of the progress their gift helped make. But never forget about your matching donor. They deserve a detailed look at the impact their donation made possible.

You can also put together something special to illustrate the campaign’s success, like a short slideshow of campaign statistics for your next meeting with them. Send a handwritten card signed by your whole office. Or, ask your leadership to put together an action plan for the money they helped raise to present. This matching donor is clearly very invested in your cause, so take special care to keep them engaged and excited about your work. If you do, they’ll be much more likely to partner again in the future.

Along with the updates you send to small and large donors, take a moment to review how your campaign unfolded in order to execute even better next time. What communication channels or messages sparked the most engagement? Did this matching campaign attract any particular segments of your donor base? Record your conclusions and some lessons learned for your next matching campaign.


When you leverage a major gift for a matching campaign, it’s truly a win-win-win situation. Your small donors feel empowered by their doubled gift, your major donor’s investment is even more impactful, and your nonprofit gains more funds and engages your community. Encourage your development team to work with major donors to make the most of every opportunity.

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