Match Your Mission Case Studies Part 1: UGM

Match campaigns are growing in popularity each year, and at Frontier, we can see why - they transform fundraising campaigns through the power of multiplication, extending the impact of each donor. A match campaign is where a single person or company or group of major donors provide a large gift to a charity with the specific purpose of encouraging other donors, often on a direct mail or email list, to contribute an equal or greater sum as a match. We’ve found them to be an incredibly effective tool to engage major donors in digital strategy (“make your gift go viral!”) as well as to provide grassroots donors (giving under $500 a year) the opportunity to feel they’re a part of making a big impact. We will expand upon the results from two recent campaigns we’ve led for Union Gospel Mission (Vancouver) and Kelowna’s Gospel Mission. You’ll learn that match campaigns work, why we think they work, and how to get one off the ground.


Frontier has been leading match campaigns for Union Gospel Mission (UGM) since November 2011. They’ve been the highlight of our year each year - even after a number of campaigns we’re both nervous and excited at our upcoming match campaign this fall.

In November 2010 the annual “meal ask” went out ahead of the Christmas push. It was an email out to the list of approximately 11,000 subscribers with UGM’s core message: donate to save a life this winter. At the time, it raised a pleasant $26k with an average gift of $106. November’s eblast raised approximately $40,000 and the entire web revenue for the month raised nearly triple that total. When 2011 came around, it was time to beat historical results. Enter the match campaign.

In 2011, and continuing today, we’ve noted several trends that aid in the success of match campaigns:

  • Donors of all stripes are turning to the internet to give their gift.
  • Major donors like to reduce a charity’s dependency on their ongoing support.
  • Deadlines are always motivators to giving.
  • Most importantly: small, grassroots donors feel like they are making a meaningful impact with any sum.

These main trends led us to creating UGM’s week-long November match campaign. The major giving team at UGM hauled in $74,355 in pledges in advance of mid-November and a goal was set. Monday morning an email was sent, and by Friday morning we were thanking the list of nearly 14,000 subscribers for raising $87k (up 234%) with their average gift of $135 (an increase of 27%). The big trend we noted were the increase in the number of donations. Where 2010’s campaign saw 246 donors, 2011 had 648 - nearly threefold the previous year.

Growth continued with minor adjustments until the 2014 Frontier and UGM team took the goal to a whole new level - $230,000 in 60 hours.

Again, major and corporate gifts solicitors found that match gift, pooling $115,000 in pledges to challenge grassroots donors. It was time to take things to the next level.

The Action Plan

Frontier’s action plan was simple: continue to send an urgent message about matching funds - but it needed a clear and simple landing page and as many small pushes throughout the week as we could manage.

In all we did the following:

  • Sent five eblasts over the week
  • Sponsored posts on Facebook
  • Tweeted away
  • Used a custom landing page

In addition, major donor solicitors further kept their donors informed both for accountability, but also to potentially spur on more giving.

The landing page was our big change of the year. Features included a progress bar to visually convey donor impact and incentivize giving, as well as a countdown timer to convey the urgency of a gift.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 3.02.59 PM

The Result

We can let the Friday eblast copy tell you how the campaign performed:

A group of UGM donors pledged $115,000 towards our 60 hour matching campaign to encourage others to donate. In the midst of the campaign, more donors stepped up with another $11,000 agreeing to match even more donations bringing our total goal from $230,000 to $252,000!

You went above and beyond, surpassing our goal! Within the last 3 days, 1,235 donations were made!

Together, we raised a grand total of $340,305 to ensure UGM's life-saving programs and services will continue to meet the needs of our community struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction.

We were elated, UGM was elated (they even sent us a Vine of their staff saying thanks!), donors were thrilled. This campaign represented 103,436 meals and other life-savings services.

Days later, the 2015 goal was set at $500,000.


Lessons Learned

This success has informed all our future campaign planning. A take-away that we at Frontier are seeing over and over again in campaigns is the importance of highlighting the tangible impact that donors can make. In this case, their donation could provide a meal and a second serving to someone in need through the matching campaign.


Next: Part 2: Kelowna's Gospel Mission.