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How to Leverage a Matching Challenge for the Top Dollar Day of Your Campaign

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Published November 23, 2015 Reading Time: 3 minutes

Matching challenges are one of our secret weapons for time-based fundraising campaigns. They’re usually the highest grossing day(s) of a campaign because they motivate fundraisers and donors to act fast to double their impact on the cause.

These challenges can be activated when a donor agrees to match other incoming gifts dollar-for-dollar. They’re often times either capped at a certain amount or time period; both create urgency, which is critical to a matching challenge.

How to Find a Matching Donor

Finding a matching donor requires personalized engagement from one of the gift officers at your organization. It’s important to let the potential large-gift donor know how the money will be used. And when you tell them it will be used to encourage additional donations for the cause, they’ll likely be even more interested.

If you don’t have a matching challenge donor, take a look back at your largest donors from last year’s event or campaign and give them a call. You can pool several donors’ gifts together to create one larger matching challenge.

Once you secure a matching donation, Classy makes it easy to set up a matching challenge. Under the “Advanced” tab of a campaign, you can set start and end dates and a matching limit. You can also upload a sponsor or individual’s photo.

argyos family foundation

Timing Is Key

The other trick to executing matching challenges is timing. You want to launch it in the final push of a campaign so that your communications with fundraisers are frequent but with purpose. Launch it in the last week, five days, or even in the last 24 hours of the campaign—no longer than that. A limited window to take advantage of the dollar-for-dollar match will encourage fundraisers and donors to act quickly, driving momentum through the end of your campaign.

Here’s an example from the Selamta Family Project, a nonprofit that creates stable, long-term families for Ethiopian orphaned children and women marginalized by child marriage, abuse, and/or poverty-related diseases. Selamta had a $5,000 matching challenge donation to use during their annual Lead the Way 5K fundraising event.

This graphic was emailed to fundraisers and posted on social three days before Lead the Way 5K. We encouraged fundraisers to share it on their own social channels.

Selampta Announcement Message

With just two days left in the matching challenge, we created and sent another graphic to update supporters on the progress of the matching challenge.

Selamta Family Project

Finally, with just 24 hours to go, we emailed and posted one last update for fundraisers, donors, and participants.

Selamta Family Project

This matching challenge helped Selamta raise nearly $15,000 in three days. Overall, UpRaise Consulting helped the Selamta Family Project increase their total funds raised at Lead the Way 5K by 61.3 percent year over year.

Once your matching challenge is fulfilled, congratulate your supporters and encourage them to finish the campaign strong, or if you have another donor put up a second matching challenge last minute, you can extend the matching challenge.


  • A matching challenge can propel you to your highest donation days of your campaign.
  • Reach out to corporate sponsors or high donor individuals to solicit a matching challenge donation.
  • Consider pooling the donations of several large donors if you don’t have one large donation to fund the matching challenge.
  • Limit the matching challenge to a select number of days and time it towards the end of your campaign to finish strong.
  • Use graphics to help you update your supporters on the progress of the matching challenge.

Matt Scott is the Chief Development Officer at CauseMic, Classy’s first Certified Strategic Partner in the nation. With Matt’s leadership, CauseMic has raised more than $6 million for their nonprofit clients on the Classy platform. Contact him on Twitter at @Cause_Mic to learn how CauseMic can help you leverage the Classy platform to raise awareness and money online.

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