Aim your Matching Dollars at a particular Level of your paddle raiser

If you’ve landed a “Matching Gift” for your paddle raiser (aka fund-a-need), give yourself a huge pat on the back!

That’s great work, and you shouldn’t shrug it off with an “aw-shucks, it was nothing.” It’s definitely something to be proud of.


 Every nonprofit we work with would LOVE to get a “Matching Gift” to boost their paddle raiser, but only about 10% of the organizations are lucky enough to find a Match.

Just for clarity, so we all know we’re talking about the same thing, a “Matching Gift” is a commitment from a board member or a foundation that says, “For every dollar you raise, we’ll contribute a dollar up to a pre-determined amount.”

Typical dollar-for-dollar matches will contribute $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 or $100,000.

Now that you have a Match, you’ll want to decide on a strategy.

How do you leverage the Match to maximize your revenue?

  • STRATEGY #1 - EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS - In this strategy, you’re going to tell the audience about the match at the beginning, and every dollar you receive in the paddle raiser will count toward the match.
    • This strategy works best when the Match amount is just 10% to 20% more than you made in your paddle raiser the previous year.
    • For example, if you raised $90,000 in your paddle raiser (aka fund-a-need) last year, and you now have a $100,000 match. This strategy can help you pull an additional $10,000 out of your audience to reach the goal.
  • STRATEGY #2 - SKIP THE TOP LEVEL(S) - With this strategy, you’re not going to tell the audience about the goal right away. First, you’re going to start your paddle raiser and hit your highest level(s) first, before you announce the Match.
    • This strategy works best when your top levels would eat up too much of the match and not leave enough to motivate the rest of the audience.
    • For example, suppose you had a $50,000 Match for an event that last year raised $90,000 in the paddle raiser (aka fund-a-need). And last year, you had three donors at $10,000.
    • If you announce your $50,000 match at the beginning and again get three people at $10,000, then you’ll eat up $30,000 of your match right away. You want to save more of it for the rest of the audience.
    • So you could start your paddle raiser, do the $10,000 level first, and then announce that you have a $50,000 match that will apply to the dollars raised at the $5,000-level and below.
  • STRATEGY #3 - DOUBLE UP THE MATCH - Sometimes you’re going to get a match that is way too big for your event (that’s a good problem to have). Suppose a foundation offers you a $100,000 match, but you only raised $45,000 in your paddle raiser last year. You’re unlikely to raise enough to capture all of the match.
    • You could solve this problem by asking the foundation if they’re willing to make it a 2-to-1 match. If they’ll give $2 for every $1 that you raise in the room, then this Match is now within reach of your audience.
  • STRATEGY #4 - AIM YOUR MATCH AT A LEVEL - Let’s say that you have a board member who has offered to contribute a $10,000 Match. The great news about this is that it’s the most realistic type of Match. Many nonprofits may be able to find someone who will make a $10,000 match.
    • You will not announce this match at the very beginning of the paddle raiser.
    • Instead, you should “aim” this match at the level at which it will produce the most good.
    • For example, if you had seven people at the $1,000 level last year, you could aim your $10,000 match for that level to try to inspire three more people to jump in.
    • Or maybe you had 14 people at the $500 level last year. If you aim your $10,000 match at that level, you might inspire more people to get involved to reach that goal.

Landing a Match is a great coup for your nonprofit, and hopefully these strategies will help you deploy that Match in the most profitable manner for your event.

Are you looking for more strategies that will help you maximize your paddle raiser fundraising? Click here to download our free “Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Record-Breaking Paddle Raiser.

Happy Fundraising!