4th Quarter Checklist – Start A Challenge Fund TODAY | npENGAGE

4th Quarter Checklist – Start A Challenge Fund TODAY

By on Dec 1, 2011


Note from ProspectResearch.com: Roy Jones has more than 30 years of marketing, fundraising and development experience.  In addition to consulting and advising some of the nation’s top human services charities, Jones serves on several not-for-profit boards including the Ronald Reagan Institute, Recovery for the City, and the Economic Development Council. We invite you to check out his blog Roy Jones Reports. You can also follow him on Twitter @GetRoyJones.

He has graciously decided to share his latest blog posts with us and will continue to do so throughout Q4!


If you have not already done so, now is the time for your organization to empower major donors to help you improve your net revenue in 2012. 

You can use any major gift  in the 4th quarter of  2011 to boost revenues in 2012, but you need to start RIGHT NOW.  Remember that the majority of all major gifts happen in 4th quarter and the majority of 4th quarter gifts happen in the last three weeks of the year.

There are three types of matching funds that every charity should be developing as the year winds to an end: Challenge Fund Gifts, Employer Matching Gifts and Individual donor matches.

 Challenge Fund Gifts

IT’S NOT TOO LATE.  Reach out to your Major Donors who make a gifts to your organization in the 4th quarter and ask them for their permission to use their last gift amount as part of a “challenge fund” to get other donors to match their gift amount.  Remember, you are not changing their gift designation.  You are simply using their last gift amount as a way to challenge others to give. 

Every major donor appreciates it when their contribution can have DOUBLE the impact!  It is an excellent way to demonstrate your stewardship and build better relationships with your donors.

I encourage not-for-profit leaders to make the challenge fund request a standard part of their 4th quarter acknowledgement and thank you receipting process.  Every donor who makes a 5-figure or 6-figure gift should be called and thanked, of course.  When you call to thank them simply ask: “would you be interested in helping us double the impact of your gift?”

Another idea is to add to your receipt letter a reply device a check off box that simply says, “Yes, you have my permission to use my gift amount as a way to challenge others to give. I understand that my name and address will not be disclosed and kept entirely confidential.”

Depending on the size of the challenge fund you create,  it can give your organization an excellent mailing opportunity to your regular donors in the Spring of 2012.  You will not be sorry that you went to the extra effort to speak with your major donors about your challenge fund.  Many organizations see as much as a 100% lift in response with a matching gift challenge added to their mailing.   

You are going to be surprised at the number of additional checks that come in through this process.  People appreciate the opportunity to double their impact and investment in your organization.

 Employer Matching Gifts

You also should immediately mentioning employer matching gift programs in your communications on-line and in the mail.  You may even want to do a mailing and E-appeal exclusively on Matching Gifts and asking for the donor to list their company or retirement fund so that you can provide them the paperwork for “doubling their gift”.

Most donors are surprised to learn that they can increase their donation through their  employer’s “Matching Gift” program. Retirees are usually entitled to these benefits too.  Donors should be encouraged to notify their employer’s human resource department that they support your not-for-profit organization. Joining a Matching Gift program is simple, and allows your donors to direct their contribution and employer to support your organization.

Don’t forget to remind your donors that more than 60% of matching gift companies can match gifts that are up to two years old, so when major gift donors give gifts beyond the single year match limit, you can seek another years match in the subsequent year

A great resource for identifying the companies that offer matching gift benefits is Blackbaud’s Matchfinder service with over 25,000 companies who match employees and retiree gifts.

Individual Matching Gifts

Individual donors to your organization can inspire their family, friends and business associates to support your Mission or ministry by creating your very own “Challenge Gift.” Donors can direct a donation to any one of your programs and then ask others to match the gift – it’s that simple! Initiating a Matching Gift is a wonderful way for a donor to support you while also acknowledging your organization’s great work.

 Example of a previous Challenge Gift:  A loyal supporter initiated a $5,000 Gift Challenge for our ministry to be completed by the end of the fiscal year. They provided $5,000 to be matched by our direct mail donors and an additional $5,000 to be matched by our major donors. The challenge was established in this way to help the ministry, not only provide current donors with a way to have their donation doubled, but to also helps the organization to engage and acquire new donors. 

Finally, train your major gift staff and development team how to present the matching gift concept.  In addition, you should always try to incentivize your matching gift program:

–Count matching gifts for purposes of gift club totals

–Consider a special club for matching gift donors

–Reward donors in securing matching gifts with printed recognition in donor reports, honor rolls or on your charities web site

Every time a gift comes in during the month of December for $1,000 or more, pick up the phone, thank the donor and then make the case for doubling their impact and doubling your money.  IT IS NOT TOO LATE!


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