Some Drives Support Programs More Important to the Donor Than the Charity
of the charity’s fundraising success.
The International Rescue
Committee, which runs eight to
10 matching drives a year, accepts only conditional matches.
Susan Kotcher, vice president for development, says she
believes they are more effective because matches can be described more directly in e-mail
and mail solicitations. With
strict matches, the aid group
Continued from Page 7
gift seems to send
a strong signal
of charity quality.”
can make it clear that a dollar or more will be received for
every dollar contributed, rather than using more vague language that says, for example,
the gift will help “inspire” other
But not everyone agrees about
the superiority of conditional
matches. Mr. List, of the University of Chicago, says he assumed that conditional matches
would raise more money, but a
study proved otherwise.
He compared three solicita-
tions: one with no pledged mon-
ey available, one in which a do-
nor agreed to provide money
to start a new project to which
others could contribute, and one
in which some of the initial gift
was conditional on the charity
raising matching support. The
solicitation that included men-
tion of the unconditional gift
raised slightly more money.
Downsides of Matches
While they can work well,
matches can also detract from
other fundraising efforts, and
Ron Schiller, a former chief
fundraiser at NPR and the University of Chicago who is now
senior vice president at Lois L.
Lindauer Searches, says that
matching drives flounder when
they drum up money for a program that’s more important to
a donor than to the institution.
Nonprofits should not let the
“cart lead the horse,” he says.
Another challenge can come
when a donor imposes too many
restrictions: on the time frame
of the campaign, on whom the
charity can solicit, and on the
number of gifts needed to meet
the match, among other crite-
COURTES Y OF CHRIS TOPHER AND DANA REEVE
Peter Wilderotter, of the
Christopher and Dana
ria. Restrictions are not always
a bad thing, but they can make
the campaign unwieldy, say
Temple University ran into
such challenges when it accepted a $1-million matching gift
for a new athletics facility. According to the terms of the gift,
the university had to raise all of
the matching money from other
But a new athletics facility
wasn’t high on the list of every
university trustee, says David
Unruh, senior vice president for
institutional advancement. The
university fell short of the $1-
million goal, raising about half
Awash in Matches?
While matching gifts have
been around for decades, some
charities have stepped up the
campaigns in the recession’s
wake. That’s contributed to con-
cerns that matching gifts could
lose their punch.
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