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Putting Together a Matching Challenge Campaign in 3 Steps

Putting Together a Matching Challenge Campaign in 3 Steps

Once you’ve decided to undertake a matching challenge campaign, you may be at a loss as to how to set one up. Below are 3 steps to take to ensure your campaign has the best chance of reaching your fundraising goal.

It’s important to note from the beginning that matching challenges can be even more effective as an end-of-the-year campaign.  To give yourself ample time to prepare, you should consider beginning to plan for such a campaign roughly six months before the end of the year.

With enough time to prepare, you will be able to go through each of the 3 steps to best run your matching challenge:

Step 1: Outlining Your Goal

The more specific you can be with your campaign, the better your chances of reaching your fundraising goal. Outline the needs that will be met by your challenge, such as providing meals, medical care, housing, etc. Will the funding go toward some new humanitarian program? Donors tend to respond better when they can have a clear vision of what you plan on using the donations for.

Step 2: Making Contact

Knowing exactly what the goal of your campaign will be, your next step is to relay your objective(s) to your major donors, Boards of Directors, or corporate partners so you can help them understand just what their contribution to your organization will mean.

Laurence Pagnoni puts it succinctly in NonProfit Quarterly: “Spell out what the Challenge gift will do to help raise more money from other donors… You can and ought to show the major donor how much a Challenge boosts response compared to a typical appeal. Use the same pitch on the Board. It’s all about leveraging the money.”

Unsure exactly which of your donors to present with your matching Challenge? Time to consult your data – take a look at who your most generous donors were during your previous donation push or campaign and give them a call.

If you’re feeling uneasy about asking donors for so much upfront, simply keep the focus on your matching challenge and how much you’re attempting to raise. Your major donors will likely be energized knowing that their gift will itself motivate others to give.

Another reason to begin your challenge about six months in advance is that the process of finding major donors and corporate partners is time-consuming. Multiple conversations may be needed to lock down enough donors, and if you’re facing rejection, try adding more challenge specifics moving forward.

Step 3: The Clock is Ticking

After securing a donor or donors to issue the matching challenge gift, your next step is to reach out to the rest of your donor base and share your challenge goal with them. What’s important here is that you effectively communicate the urgent nature of the challenge. Using graphics or video, let donors know that there is only a limited time in which they can double the impact of their donation. Ticking clocks or countdown images are known to be effective in this regard.

Get the word out!

Direct mail is not enough to let donors know about your matching challenge: you need to pull out all the stops by mentioning your challenge in any newsletters or email appeals you typically send. Make your offer go viral on your social media by posting stories of people who have benefited from your organization.

When you take the time to come up with a clear and time-sensitive message and strategize which potential donors you wish to partner with, you give yourself the best chance of maximizing donations and hitting your challenge goals.

To learn about how matching challenges can help your organization, check out our blog or read the latest Direct Edge for a more detailed discussion.

For expert insight into properly utilizing your communication channels to maximize your challenge gift, download our FREE GUIDE by clicking here!


-Lolly Columbo

VP Client Service


For 30 years, Lolly has been on the front lines with some of the most recognizable charities such as The Salvation Army, Operation Blessing International, CBN and others. Lolly brings a wealth of experience in direct response, Spanish marketing and broadcast to make her an invaluable asset when it comes to serving her clients’ fundraising needs.


To get in touch with Lolly, send her an email.