Fundraisers grow skeptical of careless reporting in the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Okay, that was a misleading headline.

My only evidence: Several people emailed me in dismay over a shockingly sloppy and misleading story in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that might have given you the impression that you’d better stop using matching gifts because donors no longer believe in them: As More Charities Promote Matching Gifts, Donors Grow Skeptical of Campaign Pleas (subscription required).

You’d think with a headline like that, there would be some evidence of donor skepticism.

All they have is one consultant vaguely citing focus group findings: “…we’ve heard a lot of folks question the legitimacy of matches.”

There’s more evidence supporting a coming Mayan Apocalypse than there is for a groundswell of donor skepticism toward matching gifts. That is to say, there’s no evidence of it.

Focus group research is not behavioral research. Frequently, focus group findings run exactly opposite what people actually do. Any time things said in focus groups are trotted out as evidence of what’s happening in fundraising, you should drown out the nonsense with loud laughter. It’s beyond me why people keep using focus groups that way and citing their findings as if they are truth you can take to the bank.

Matching gifts work. They really, really work almost all the time. They aren’t magic, and I’ve seen a few cases where a matching grant offer didn’t do any better than a non-match offer. But that’s by far the exception. And I’ve never seen a match do worse.

You can hardly go wrong by giving your donors the opportunity to leverage the impact of their giving. Matching gifts are just one of a diverse class of leverage offers. The more of them you have, the more funds you’ll raise.

You probably shouldn’t be taking fundraising advice from the Chronicle. Not when it runs stories this poorly sourced and far removed from reality.


Comments

10 responses to “Fundraisers grow skeptical of careless reporting in the Chronicle of Philanthropy”

  1. You’re on target, Jeff, at least on how matches work. I know less about the Chronicle’s sloppy reporting…but I agree that matches work all things being equal.
    Thanks for this.
    st

  2. You’re on target, Jeff, at least on how matches work. I know less about the Chronicle’s sloppy reporting…but I agree that matches work all things being equal.
    Thanks for this.
    st

  3. I appreciate the perspective! However, as a donor, I hate matching campaigns. They’re deceptive. Unless the wealthy donation matcher will really NOT donate more than the matches on what others gave, then it’s mostly a lie… the wealthy donor will give $500,000 or whatever regardless of how much others give.
    I’m not denying that they work or anything. I just hate fundraising tactics that even border on deceptive (and there are several).

  4. I appreciate the perspective! However, as a donor, I hate matching campaigns. They’re deceptive. Unless the wealthy donation matcher will really NOT donate more than the matches on what others gave, then it’s mostly a lie… the wealthy donor will give $500,000 or whatever regardless of how much others give.
    I’m not denying that they work or anything. I just hate fundraising tactics that even border on deceptive (and there are several).

  5. This is great, Jeff. Thanks for pointing out the absurdity of the COP and their silly reporting. I see this all the time from them, really annoying. And, Kim a donor can decide at the end of a campaign whether they still want to give the rest of their donation matched or not. That is up to them. So, I don’t see anything deceptive since I’ve never seen language in a matching grant offer that the donor “will ONLY match what is received in the mail from this appeal.”

  6. This is great, Jeff. Thanks for pointing out the absurdity of the COP and their silly reporting. I see this all the time from them, really annoying. And, Kim a donor can decide at the end of a campaign whether they still want to give the rest of their donation matched or not. That is up to them. So, I don’t see anything deceptive since I’ve never seen language in a matching grant offer that the donor “will ONLY match what is received in the mail from this appeal.”

  7. Thank you for putting a smile on my face today. It was turning into “one of those days” until I read your post.
    Please excuse me because I need to run off and start planning for the end of the world. 😉
    On a serious note, I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for your point of view. I look forward to many more future posts!

  8. Thank you for putting a smile on my face today. It was turning into “one of those days” until I read your post.
    Please excuse me because I need to run off and start planning for the end of the world. 😉
    On a serious note, I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for your point of view. I look forward to many more future posts!

  9. Kim, I don’t understand your argument. If a charity doesn’t reach their goal, and the grantor decides to give a gift above and beyond what they originally agreed to, what harm has been done? Let me ask you this… if YOU received a gift that you weren’t expecting, would you call that deceptive?

  10. Kim, I don’t understand your argument. If a charity doesn’t reach their goal, and the grantor decides to give a gift above and beyond what they originally agreed to, what harm has been done? Let me ask you this… if YOU received a gift that you weren’t expecting, would you call that deceptive?

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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