News & Updates

 

Wise Giving Wednesday: Matching Gifts and Impact Claims

Feb 13, 2019

It can be challenging to provide potential donors with incentives to make a contribution in view of so many competing interests in today’s marketplace. This is why many charities engage in matching gift appeals that announce a third-party has promised to match every dollar donated in a specified time period, usually with a required threshold (e.g., “we must raise at least $50,000 or lose the match.”)

We are disappointed, however, to see a growing trend for some matching gift appeals to include another promise about the “impact” of the charity, here some excerpts from actual past promotions:

Matching Drive – Double your impact!

Your Donation + Matching Gift = Double the Impact!

Now is the perfect time to make a donation to [ABC charity] – because your gift will have twice the impact! [XYZ person] has generously agreed to match, dollar-for-dollar, all individual donations up to $ 1 million.

Donations made to [ABC Charity] from now through the end of 201X will have double the impact! Every dollar donated to [ABC charity] will unlock a $1 donation from [XYZ Corporation] up to $740,000

Some might conclude that the word “impact” in this context is intended to be synonymous with a reference to financial matching. The problem is there has been much discussion within the charitable community in recent years about the importance of charity impact: how effective has a charity been in addressing its announced goal(s) and mission? As a result, fundraising promotions need to be careful how the impact word is used. Few would suggest that more money represents a dollar for dollar increase in a charity’s impact. Due to the diversity of charity missions and goals and the numerous influences on any particular issue, the measurement of impact can be a complicated task that is unlikely to have a universal approach.

Words matter, especially in these social-media driven times when fewer of them can be pressed into service. When BBB Wise Giving Alliance has asked charities to substantiate the references to “impact” appearing in matching gift appeals, the contacted organizations usually agree to change their language to avoid creating a misimpression about the effectiveness of the charity’s activities.

To learn more about the charity impact issue and find out how the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability address this matter, visit our previous blog on this subject:


Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video featuring Kim Callinan, CEO, Compassion & Choices (a BBB Accredited Charity) that seeks to provide education, advocacy, media outreach and litigation to expand end-of-life options and improve medical care. The organization reports it works nationwide in state legislatures, Congress, courts, medical settings and communities to empower people with information and tools, including its free consultation program, to receive healthcare that is consistent with their values and priorities as they approach the end of life.


Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to www.give.org/charity-inquiry if you are  interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance