How to approach match-funding

 10 January 2014

How can you use match-funding to reach your funding targets? Chris Buckingham, from crowdfunding research agency Minivation, explains how to approach third parties who may have an interest in your project succeeding.

Pitching your match-funding idea to a third party in the right way is key to your success.
Pitching your match-funding idea to a third party in the right way is key to your success.

What is match-funding?

Match-funding is asking a third party to back you by adding an equivalent amount to your fundraising campaign to that which has been pledged by the crowd.

So if the crowd donates £20, the match-funder also donates £20 making £40 in total.

The third party matches any funding you are offered by the crowd with funding from their own resources.

A match-funder backs you by donating an equivalent amount to what has been pledged by the crowd.

Let's use an example of a sculptor trying to raise money for a piece she wants to create for the benefit of a local community.

The sculptor starts a straightforward crowdfunding campaign where they offer rewards to the crowd for their money.  

Now imagine that the sculptor could also get funding from a corporate body. How quickly would that help her reach her funding target?

Potentially, this input could have a significant impact on the success of the campaign.

Choosing a match-funder

Getting corporate bodies to donate to any cause is difficult. Asking them to donate to a crowdfunding project could be an even greater barrier.

But being a little smarter in the way you approach a corporate body could make a significant difference.

The difficulty lies in identifying a value proposition that will attract the third party to offer you match-funding.

  • Both the value and the values of the campaign must be aligned with those of the third party corporate body
  • No third party is going to back a project that conflicts with the core values of a brand or its message.

Our sculptor could be seeking match-funding from a gallery, a tool producer, a local foundation or even a corporate body not related to the arts at all. But it would need to be a company with an interest in the local community, or one that is sympathetic to the project.

Approaching a match-funder

Generally speaking, persuading a company to match-fund your project requires some broad thinking on both sides.

First, contact a couple of corporate bodies and ask for their feedback.

But it's surprising how many large corporations can benefit from just this kind of project if they know about it, or indeed have the chance to get involved.

Large corporations often have a policy in place called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In part, what this policy is designed to do is provide them with the opportunity to do some good and give a little extra back to society.

Match-funding can be pitched as a kind of safety net for the corporation. If there is not enough interest in your project, they lose nothing, but if there is interest they gain in many more ways than just giving the money to a cause.

On top of that, they get input from you, as manager of the campaign, for free!

It's a good idea to contact a couple of the corporate bodies you identify as having a synergy with your project, sound them out, and ask them for their initial feedback.

In this way you not only get to contact the gatekeepers in the organisation, but you also begin a relationship with them early in the project.

This can have a great deal of value for you as you plan your campaign and your strategy.

3 steps to finding a corporate partner

Finding, and then persuading, the corporate body to match-fund is not an easy task. Here are the basic steps.

1. Find the right CSR policy

It can be hard to find CSR policies that are related to the vision you're creating, so take care to do your research.

2. Find the right person to contact

Once you've found the right company, you need to find the decision-makers in the organisation. 

3. Pitch your idea

Pitch your idea carefully to the decision-makers you've located, and convince them of the benefits of the project.

You need to stress that crowdfunding will deliver.

Planning your match-funding pitch

All of this calls for careful planning on your part before you even think about approaching the corporation.

Commercial organisations want a sound plan that aligns with their core values.

Perhaps the least problematic action above is making sure you stress that crowdfunding can deliver successful results.

With so much positive coverage of crowdfunding in the popular press, most corporations, including public bodies, have a good grasp of the concept.

What most commercial organisations want is for you to approach them with a sound plan that is aligned with their core values.

You should be prepared to tell them:

  • How much you are looking for
  • When your fundraising scheme will run, and how long for
  • Where and how you will display their branding.

This is the essence of successfully getting a match-fund with a commercial organisation off the ground.

The values of a brand are sometimes tougher to recognise than you might think. The type of person your crowdfunding project attracts must be the type of person that the corporation wants to communicate with.

In our example with the sculptor, it may be that a local hardware chain would be a good corporation for her to approach. The work could be produced using some of their tools and they may see the localised publicity they would get as beneficial to their brand in that community.

Attracting your crowdfunders

Your match-funding company is one side of the equation. The other is the crowd itself.

It is essential to ensure that the third party you are getting any match-funding from is not a corporation who are perceived as aggressive, or one that has caused disputes or upset the local community.

A good example for the sculptor would be a local quarry that has recently expanded its operations, destroying a local beauty spot in the process.

If she gets an agreement from them to match-fund, local opposition to the expansion could also result in people being put off supporting her plans to create the piece of work.

Negative publicity could follow, damaging any chances of successfully crowdfunding her project.

Publicising a match-funding scheme

For any match-funding agreement, limits should be established from the outset. These should include when your corporation's match-funding begins and ends.

For example, they could agree to match any funds after the first £100 has been raised, and pledge to match a maximum of £1,500.

Avoid corporations who have upset your target audience.

This information should be readily available in any publicity generated by their involvement.

A local artist will most likely have much less access to the kind of publicity machinery a national brand would have access to.

For this reason, set out at the beginning in writing what kind of association you want from the relationship in any press releases or social media publicity.

This will also show the corporation that you mean business, and add weight to the perception of this being a well thought out plan that will benefit a lot of people whist satisfying their CSR requirements, which may be legally binding.

Crowdfunding could also be used as a way of ensuring there is sufficient local support for the corporation to get involved. The very nature of crowdfunding means that to be a success there must be social support for the project, and this means people talking about it. 

Match-funding is also a call to action for your crowd. By guaranteeing that for every £10 they donate they are in fact helping you to gain £20, you are encouraging them to help the campaign reach the match target.

Visit Minivation to find out more about crowdfunding.