A Match Made in Heaven:
Grades 6 – 12 Book Projects with Matching Gift Partnership
By Joshua Tyler Campbell
A project with a matching gift partnership on DonorsChoose.org means that for each donation an individual donor may give to a project, an additional donation for the same dollar amount will be given toward the same project. These ‘matching’ donations typically come from large companies or charitable foundations. Matching gift partnerships allow individual donors to essentially double their impact on their selected project(s). This research inquiry on DonorsChoose.org matching gift partnerships focused on fully-funded book projects in grades 6–12 in Forsyth County, North Carolina, and also provides insights based on information provided by teachers from this category who have experience with matching gift partnerships as well as individuals from the DonorsChoose.org corporate office.
DonorsChoose.org works extensively to secure and promote matching gift partnerships for as many projects as possible. In fact, DonorsChoose.org promotes a number of existing projects with matching gift offers on their home page in addition to having a search filter dedicated for projects with matching gift offers. This is largely due in part to the desire of individual donors to maximize the impact they can have on individual projects. DonorsChoose.org, its partnering companies and foundations, and individual teachers all seek to capitalize on this desire. And rightfully so – nationally, projects with matching gift partnerships reach full funding overwhelmingly more so than projects without matching gift partnerships.
Of the 91 fully-funded book projects in grades 6–12 in Forsyth County, North Carolina, 38 projects, or nearly 42%, had matching gift partnerships. The average time for these projects with matching gift partnerships to reach full funding was 37 days. These partnerships were made possible through six different internal matching gift programs specific to DonorsChoose.org and ten different partnering companies and charitable foundations. Surprisingly, only one publishing company, Townsend Press, was a matching gift partner within this data set of book projects and only partnered for a handful of projects. Additionally, only two companies local to Forsyth County were represented in this data set of matching gift partners. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was overwhelmingly the single most matching partner with the largest number of partnered projects, 16 total, for this data set.
As noted, DonorsChoose.org offers a number of in-house matching gift programs specific to the organization and not affiliated with any outside companies or charitable foundations. These programs are actually promotional codes made available to the individual teachers during the first few days after their project is posted and to teachers proposing their first project. Additionally, when larger companies and charitable foundations partner with DonorsChoose.org for matching gift programs, these partnering organizations will often select criteria for the individual projects they hope to contribute matching donations. These criteria can be based upon the type of project, supplies requested in a project, subject areas, grade levels, and the need-level of schools where the projects are based. When individual projects are submitted by teachers, DonorsChoose.org will screen for these criteria and pair projects with partners for matching gift donations. For larger matching gift partnerships, DonorsChoose.org actively advertises and updates these criteria on a state-by-state basis on their ‘Funding Opportunities’ page for teachers to view.
Teachers submitting projects to DonorsChoose.org can drastically increase the likelihood of success and reduce the amount of time to reach complete funding if they are able to secure a matching gift partnership for their projects. Individual donors are much more likely to give to projects with matching gift offers than those without so as to double the impact of their donations. To secure matching donation partnerships, teachers should pay careful attention to promotional offers made available directly after their projects are approved. Additionally, when writing project proposals for DonorsChoose.org, teachers should first make note of the project criteria for ongoing matching gift partnerships available for projects in their state so as to directly tailor project proposals to match these criteria.