How to Handle Match Donations for Your Fund-A-Need

It’s exciting to receive a large donation for your Fund-A-Need campaign.

But how do you use these donations so they inspire more giving, rather than intimidate people? Mark Schroeder is a certified benefit auctioneer and shared his insights on large gifts during our recent webinar, 7 Essentials to Fund-a-Need Success with Auction brio LLC.

Types of Large Donations

There are several different types of large donations and each can be used to boost your auction revenue.

  • Match—The match donation is usually offered by a familiar supporter who actually brings a group of friends to your gala. Friends like to support their friends, so these people are prepared to match the donation. More often than not, the donor is a long-time supporter and is known by your audience.
  • Challenge—A challenge donation is usually a corporate donation or is offered by a single individual, not connected with a larger group. It’s a chance to double your money and possibly build a relationship with someone new.
  • Donation—Sometimes you’ll just receive a large donation with no match or challenge criteria. These donations can also be great motivators.

Presenting Large Donations

So you have a large match or challenge donation. When is the best time to present it in your Fund-A-Need auction? As with many things… it depends. It’s important to know your audience.

If you have a $25,000 lead gift and there’s no one else in the room who can come close to it, you might not want to start with this giving level. Those who would have given $250 or $100 will lean back in their chairs and say, “Well, they got their money. They don’t need it from me. What is my $100, compared to the $25,000 they just got?”

Be strategic about how you present large gifts. There are creative ways to insert this donation at different spots and really make it inspiring. It’s possible to double or triple this amount.

A Tale of Two Gifts

Mark shared stories about two different $1 million gifts.

In one case, a gentleman offered a $1 million donation and insisted on presenting it at the beginning of the Fund-A-Need campaign. No one else in the room could even come close to that amount. So they ended up with just the $1 million from the one individual. Everyone else was thinking, “They got their money; we don’t need to give.”

The other $1 million opportunity turned out quite differently. This gentleman was willing to wait and ended up giving his gift at the $100 level. It was spectacular! It showed everyone in the room that he saw the giving, he saw the value of the need and he wanted to make that happen. Everyone felt empowered and excited about what they’d accomplished together.

Know Your Audience

The most effective way to determine how to handle large gifts is to know your audience. Talk to your donors. Look at the revenue numbers from last year. Understand the giving capacity of your particular group of supporters. Then strategize with your match and challenge donors to make the most of their gifts.

What is Your Experience?

Have you received large donations in the past? How did you work these gifts into your Fund-A-Need campaign? What strategies do you use to leverage these donations to inspire your audience? What approaches don’t work so well? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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