What you’d be surprised to learn about 30% and 50% fundraising matches

After the success of 2009’s Give More Get More extended matching campaign, we decided to try more in 2010. Most of the feedback we received from Give More Get More centered on the complexity of the matching tiers. So we decided to try simplifying the concept with Bonus Day – 24 hours of blitz fundraising where donations were matched at a certain percentage.

We’ve hosted two Bonus Days this year, one in March and one in June. In March, all online donations up to $1,000 per person, per project, were matched at 30%. In June, all online donations up to $1,000 per person, per project, were matched at 50%. We’ve seen the research too; Bigger matching gifts don’t produce more donors (subscription required). So in theory, there was no reason for us to increase the matching percent. But you might be surprised at the results.

March June
Match % 30% 50%
Matching Funds Available $75,000 $70,000
Matching Funds Used $37,000 $70,000
Funds Raised $118,000 $226,000
Projects Participating 224 278
Leverage 3.19 3.23

The leverage from the 50% match was higher than the 30% match, arguably not by a significant amount, but here are some additional facts worth noting.

  • We had $70,000 of matching funds available in June beginning at 12:00 a.m. EDT. Every single dollar of the match had been used by 12:00 p.m. EDT.
  • Over $23,000 was raised in the first 2 hours of Bonus Day: 12:00 a.m. EDT – 2:00 a.m. EDT.
  • 27% of participating projects raised more than $500.
  • On average, organizations received $437 in matching money.
  • 32% of projects that received donations had received no donations in the last 3-6 months.
  • 1/3 of all active organizations on GlobalGiving.org participated in June Bonus Day.
  • On 30% Bonus Day, the average gift per donor was $129.67;  On 50% Bonus Day the average gift per donor was $163.18.
  • $86,000 was raised in the 12 hours after the matching money was gone – that’s 73% of the total money that was raised in the entire 24 hours of the 30% match.

So what did we learn? We ran out of matching money too fast – whoops, our bad.

In fairness, there were other differences – March Bonus Day came on the heels of Haiti relief and Project Leaders only had about 1 month preparation time. The June Bonus Day wasn’t as close to any major disasters or giving holidays. We also told Project Leaders about this 3 months in advance.

Perhaps the outcomes and leverage of the 50% match versus the 30% match don’t seem significant enough to bother with the increase. But Project Leader feedback from March indicated that a 30% match after our 15% fee was only really a 15% match. Even though donors have the option to cover the fees at checkout, 15% extra wasn’t enough to use their “fundraising ask”.

We listened to the feedback and made some experimental changes. 50%, it turned out, was also a lot easier for Project Leaders to market to donors – “For every $2 you give, GlobalGiving will add on $1.” “If you give $10, we’ll get $15.” And so on. We saw a significant increase in Project Leaders and their supporters advertising for Bonus Day on Facebook and Twitter.

In the end, can we dispute the research about matching gifts from the donor’s perspective? Not entirely. But what we did learn is that Project Leaders were more incentivized by a higher matching amount, causing them to mobilize more donors at a faster rate. And when Project Leaders are motivated, they can energize their networks better. Who knows what would have happened if we had more matching money, or if it had lasted longer.

Donors, does a 30% or 50% match make a difference when one of your favorite causes asks you to donate?

Project Leaders, does a 30% or 50% match change how or if you mobilize your supporters?

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