Double your donation is generally how the message goes. If you give £10 to a certain charity another party will add the same amount. Sounds great, what’s not to like about it? Well – in some cases that other donor would have put in their donation anyway, so there was no real doubling.
And that’s not the only issue. What if the charity you are being encouraged to support is not very effective? Even if your donation really is doubled you may achieve less impact than if you had supported a high impact charity. Like most things in life, an apparently free lunch needs to be considered with care before accepting the offer. So, what are the issues to consider?
First check out who is making the matching offer and the exact conditions around it. Virtually all matching offers have an upper limit. If the charity is able to raise the extra funds needed quite easily then it’s debatable that your donation really makes a difference. If you didn’t contribute, someone else would. If the matching donor is a longstanding supporter of the organisation then it’s reasonable to be sceptical that the money they are offering now truly is incremental.
Next, take a close look at the charity. Does it meet your personal criteria? Is it impactful? Would you still be willing to donate without the matching?
The UK Government has been an enthusiastic supporter of matching, especially for International Aid. It regularly offers programmes to charities offering suitable programmes, further details here. One of the biggest proponents of matched giving is The Big Give, especially through their Christmas Appeal which we regularly support. We have seen evidence that matching helps charities to re-establish links with lapsed donors and to crystallise action from others who have been sitting on the fence.
So, on balance we support the concept of Matched Giving, with the important proviso of not letting it override your usual investigations about suitability.