Answering Questions About Crowd-Funded Match Campaigns and the Nuances of Conventional Match Campaigns

In our last blog post, we defined what’s becoming an increasingly popular form of fundraising, the matching campaign. We also discussed how to safeguard yourself as a donor and ensure you’re giving to a legitimate matching campaign and even how to plan your giving around matching campaigns.

Here, we’re drilling down a bit further to address a few common concerns and misperceptions about matching campaigns, starting with how you can go about asking a charity to verify that there’s an actual matching donor, given the likelihood that most matching donors won’t want their identities disclosed.

As we mentioned in our previous post, it’s always a good idea to open a line of communication with a charity. Yes, they’re probably not going to tell you who the donor is, but they should be able to tell you enough about them and their intentions for the campaign to establish a sufficient amount of transparency and, ultimately, trust.

If you want to steer that conversation, here are some questions you could ask:

What’s the match goal amount?
When do you need to raise it by?
What do you plan to do with the funds, assuming you meet the goal in time?
What portion of my donation is being matched, exactly?

Are match campaigns just a ploy?
It’s easy to view all of this with a cynical eye. The mysterious match donor and urgent timeframe are really just ploys to drive donations. In the end, there’s no way the match donor’s not going to come through, right? It depends.

The pledge agreement—which is a legally-binding document—that the match donor signs with the charity at the start of all of this can leave a little wiggle room, but not much. If the match amount isn’t raised in time, the agreement may give the match donor the option to reduce the amount of their final contribution. But it’s at the donor’s discretion. Some may only be interested in funding a match campaign.

How does a crowd-funded match campaign work?
The mechanics work a little differently than they do with a conventional match campaign, but crowd-funded match campaigns work on the same principles.

For a crowd-funded match campaign, a charity should send you a letter, by mail or email, asking you to make what’s called a leadership gift to establish a match fund that inspires other donors in a future conventional match campaign. In such cases, you and your peers function as the collective match donor.

Your donations, in turn, will be put into a match fund that can only be used for future matches. The charity should provide you and your fellow donors with a timeframe for when they expect the donations to be used in an appeal, along with, ideally, occasional progress reports on the campaign.

It’s also worth noting that once you donate to the match fund, you shouldn’t be asked to contribute to the campaign. Your work is done.