How To Get Matching Funds from a Major Donor

Matching funds are the easiest way to make everything you do (appeals, events, newsletters, you name it) raise more money.

And your easiest source of matching funds are your major donors.

We’ve had great success helping our clients get their major donors to donate matching funds. When done correctly it engages the major donor, gives the major donor a chance to multiply their impact (who doesn’t like that?) and helps you raise more money towards your development goals.

Here’s how we go about it. And of course every major donor is different, but here’s the approach that’s worked for us . . .

Review your major donors for the right donor(s)

Look for a donor who either a) hasn’t given a gift yet this year, or b) you think has the capacity to give another gift at year-end. At year-end, I think approaching majors who haven’t yet given a gift this year is your best move.

Approach the donor with a question

Use the opening question of, “Would you like the chance to multiply your giving and increase the impact of your generosity?” You want to — right away — get the donor in the frame of mind that they can increase their impact by donating matching funds.

Share the stats with them

Make it clear to the donor that they will be multiplying the impact of their own giving. Here’s why: not only do they get their gift matched by the rest of your donors, but there’s additional giving that takes place because of the match!

Look at these stats from MailChimp. I would share these stats directly with your major donor, and talk about how their donation can make results like this possible:

  • Matching funds increase average gift size by 41%
  • Matching funds increase the # of donations by 110%
  • Matching funds increase revenue by 120% (and that’s not including the matching funds themselves!)

Do you see how a match does more than double the money you raise? You get 2x the original amount because you have the match, and the funds raised to match it. But then your fundraising performs better than average too! This is an instance where 1 + 1 = 2.5. THAT’s the opportunity you have to give your donor!

Give them a deadline

If your donor is interested but doesn’t commit, give them a deadline that’s reasonably soon. You want to make them feel like opportunities to multiply their impact like this don’t come around that often (which is true). Tell them that if they say “no” you are going to contact another donor because you need the match to increase fundraising results.

And if you haven’t heard from them by the deadline, contact them to check in. Then if you need to talk to another donor, talk to the next person on your list.

Having a match really is the easiest way to increase your fundraising results. And if you want those kind of increased results for your year-end fundraising? Figure out what major you should be talking to right now and approach them right away.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

6 comments on “How To Get Matching Funds from a Major Donor

  1. I have a major donor ready to give a matching gift. She is very flexible as to when she makes the gift. Your thoughts on whether I use this match to solicit now or wait til year-end? Note: we operate on a April-March fiscal year so for timing calendar year-end is not urgent for our fiscal year.

    1. Hi Laurie! I’d ask the Major Donor to give you the gift now. Then, if you can, I’d split the match and use it both now AND at the end of the year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *