This week’s New York Times Magazine is “The Money Issue,” but it’s all about philanthropy. And not your grandmother’s philanthropy, either.
Turns out there isn’t much scientific research on the subject, but it’s exactly what fund raisers like myself want to know.
The article profiles John List, an economics professor who recently studied the relative benefits of matching gifts and challenge grants. And speak of the devil, the Wren’s Nest is in the midst of a challenge grant with a 1:1 match.
A matching gift reduces the cost of making a donation. With a, say, 1:1 match, a contribution to the nonprofit of your choice is doubled, through an equal gift from a third party. A challenge grant is a major contribution that is given with the expectation that more money be raised.
List’s research concludes that it’s important and lucrative to solicit donors with matching funds, but it’s not nearly as important how much is matched. In theory, a situation where a donor’s money is tripled is no more successful than one where it’s merely doubled.
This affects both you and me directly. How, you ask?
By reading an article like this, I’ve drawn a conclusion or two on how to construct my request for your contributions. When you read my hilarious yet poignant request a few weeks from now, you’ll immediately fork over some of your hard earned dough to help restore the Wren’s Nest.
That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway.
Aside from a few standard rules, guessing at the motivations behind giving is much more of an art than a science. Not only does a fund raiser have to identify different motivations for giving, but then s/he must pluck at as many heartstrings with a great story to inspire contributions!
Sound easy? I didn’t think so. That’s why you can help me out (that is, if you’ve made it this far!).
Here’s what I want to know–what inspires you to give to nonprofits?
Do you give for the children because they are our future? Do you give because of the flashy brochures? Does celebrity endorsement from, say, Natalie Portman inspire your giving? Don’t be shy!