Fundraising is all about getting your supporters excited about charitable giving. And matching grants are an ace in your pocket you can use to get your base motivated to give. But, what are matching grants? How do you go about getting one?
We’ll break down everything you need to know to secure a matching grant for your next campaign in this post.
What are matching grants?
Matching grants are a fundraising tool that is used as a donation incentive. Your nonprofit secures a large donation, which is offered as a “match” to incoming donations. So, if you’ve ever wondered whether it’s better to receive one big donation or a bunch of small donations, matching grants are a fundraising tool that will give you both at the same time.
A matching grant can either be provided in advance, or conditional upon meeting a certain fundraising goal. So, the terms can very, but the end result is the same. Your nonprofit builds fundraising momentum, gets donors excited about giving by offering to match their donations, and your matching grant puts you closer to achieving your fundraising goals.
How to Secure a Matching Grant
Securing a matching grant isn’t very different from working to get a major gift, or find a sponsor. There are three basic steps you can take to get a match for your next campaign: Prospect, cultivate, ask.
Prospecting is the process of determining who might be able to provide a matching grant. Even if your nonprofit is small, odds are you have people already involved with your nonprofit that would be good prospects for providing matching funds.
You’ll be making a list of stakeholders within and outside of your organization, and then filtering them based on a few key factors.
Before you start, determine your needs
Matching grants play a supportive role in your fundraising efforts. They’re a tool you can use to push your organization closer to its goals. So, when you’re thinking about a matching grant, the first thing you’ll need to do is understand what you want the matching grant to do for you. Do you want it to push your fundraiser to raise more money? Or, is donor acquisition your goal? How much are you looking to raise overall, and how much would you need in matching funds to make a difference in your campaign?
Understanding how you’ll use a matching grant will help you determine what kinds of supporters to include on your list. For instance, if you are running a big capital campaign and hoping to raise $10,000, you’ll most likely want to target donors you know have a capacity to give at a higher level. And if you’re aiming to raise $1,000 on a giving day, you may be able to target an entirely different type of donor.
Every nonprofit has a few groups of people who should always been on your list of prospects for a matching grant:
- Board of Directors: One of the most common sources of matching grants on Mightycause is board members. Individual board members may be willing to provide grants, but boards can also pool together money for a match. Fundraising is one of your board’s primary commitments to your organization, so your board is a natural place to start looking for a matching grant.
- Major donors: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, right? Any donors with a history of giving at a higher level should be at the top of your list.
- Existing sponsors: Any companies or organizations you’ve had sponsorship relationships with in the past are good matching grant prospects, too.
It’s easier to cultivate an existing relationship than start a brand new one, so don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to! Start with people and groups who are already part of your nonprofit’s inner circle.
Criteria for consideration
There are a few key items that can help you determine whether a prospect is likely to give. You’ll want to make sure you do your research on each prospect, with these items in mind:
- Affinity: How is this prospect connected to your cause? What’s the relationship? There should be a strong link between your prospect and your organization in order for a prospect to be worth pursuing.
- History: Does this prospect have a history of giving to your organization? Have they given to organizations like yours? Good prospects will have a strong history of philanthropy.
- Capacity: Can they give at the level you need for a matching grant?
It’s important to do research and get organized before proactively reaching out to secure a matching grant. All of this information will help you as you have conversations with your prospects, and allow you to make an informed ask.
Step 2: Cultivate
Nonprofit development is all about building relationships. And this step is where your nonprofit reaches out, gets to know your prospects, and starts building the relationship. Cultivation is very individual and tailored to the type of relationship each prospect has with your organization. A board member will require less getting-to-know-you than someone brand new to your work. Likewise, you’ll interact with a company in a very different way than you will an individual supporter.
While there’s no paint-by-numbers process you can follow to cultivate a good relationship with a prospect, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your efforts.
Ideally, the relationship you build with your donors will last through many campaigns, many gifts, and many conversations. So, make sure you’re taking notes! How does this donor like to be contacted? Is there anything important your team should know about this prospect? What are their interests, what draws them to your work? You can use the information gleaned from meetings, phone calls, and email to build a donor profile and make more informed contacts with these donors.
You can use spreadsheets for this, but the gold standard for preserving this knowledge about your donors is a CRM. Mightycause has our own CRM tool that’s fully integrated with our fundraising tools, and we’ve also got a Salesforce integration that prevent data isolation. Both are included with Mightycause Advanced. Get a demo and free trial today!
Assign a main contact
It can be a frustrating experience for donors to hear from multiple people at your organization, get emails from different addresses, and have to repeat information. Assign a contact to each prospect, so they can manage that relationship. That will provide the opportunity to really get to know your prospect, and keep communications easy for your donors.
Step 3: Ask
This is where all of the hard work you’ve put into getting organized, doing your research, and chatting with your prospect will (hopefully) pay off! It’s generally the easiest part of this process, but here are a few tips that can make it more likely you’ll hear a “yes” and secure that matching grant.
So, you’re not going on “Shark Tank,” so you don’t need to be ready for an inquisition. But you should be prepared to break down for your prospect how matching grants work, your plans for your campaign, what it can do for your nonprofit, and most importantly, how providing a matching grant benefits them.
Doing some homework to make a solid pitch will help you feel more confident, and make your prospect feel confident in your nonprofit.
Tailor your “ask” to their interests
Donors give because they get something out of it, at the end of the day. And so, this is where all of your research and conversations can make all the difference. You should know what they’re interested in at this point, what speaks to them. Use that to make an ask that will appeal to them.
For instance, a corporate prospect may want to know that you’ll provide good publicity for them and make the process as simple as possible. A major gift donor may be more affected by being able to mobilize so many other donors with their gifts. Knowledge is power, and will help you make a more compelling pitch.
Loop in the boss
You should always aim to have one person managing each relationship. But, it can be helpful to bring in someone else when you’re sealing the deal! Having your executive director, board chair, or Director of Development in the room or on the call when you make your ask can help you get a “yes.” They add some weight to the ask, and can back you up, provide the answers to questions, and make sure the prospect knows how important they are to your nonprofit.
Once you’ve got your match…
Mightycause has a powerful matching grants tool to help you manage your matching grants. It’s built to accommodate lots of matching (even simultaneous ones), a wide variety of match types, and best of all, it does all the hard work for you. You just tell us about your match, schedule it, and let it work its magic!
You can sign up for a free demo to see how it works. We’ve also got an hour-long webinar that will teach you everything you need to know about matching grants!