The Power of the Match

By Daniel Heimpel   |   April 8, 2022

A tried-and-true method to attract new donors and catalyze existing ones are matching funds.

As an example of the efficacy of such efforts, in 2020, the annual NewsMatch campaign – aimed at nonprofit journalism organizations and funded by the nation’s most notable journalism funders – leveraged $6.7 million in matching funds to generate more than $47 million from individual donors. 

Natalie Orfalea Foundation Executive Director Marybeth Carty

Understanding this, The Giving List set up a committee-advised fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation to raise matching funds to be deployed to the nonprofits that appeared in its pages. In total, The Giving List facilitated more than $150,000 in matching challenges, driving new donors and increased support to our partners, many with budgets of $500,000 or less. 

A key player was the Santa Barbara-based Natalie Orfalea Foundation, which provided $25,000 in matching funds to five local nonprofits on the frontlines of environmental justice. 

The end of year results for those organizations – The Environmental Defense Center, White Buffalo Land Trust, NatureTrack, Wilderness Youth Project and Explore Ecology – were telling. All but one saw year over year giving increase, and all were able to easily meet the match. 

“We liked the idea of providing a match to encourage others to donate,” says foundation Executive Director Marybeth Carty. “The idea was to motivate others to learn more about organizations they might not have heard of and be moved to support them. A match is a great incentive for those donors to act in the moment, knowing their funds will be leveraged to greater effect.” 

For Carty, partnering with The Giving List was key in expanding support for the types of organizations the Foundation champions. “I’d venture to say that donors and foundations can see a direct double bottom line value to sharing important resources with our community, and watching impact grow,” she says.

Melissa Brooks leads finance and development for Explore Ecology, a Santa Barbara nonprofit that works with more than 30,000 children every year, teaching them about their local environment, and instilling them with a lifelong appreciation of nature. The organization’s end of year appeal and the match brought in $25,000, an important shot of funding for an organization with a budget of under $2 million. 

“We believe that The Giving List provided endorsement for our mission and increased exposure to a wider audience,” Brooks says. “We believe that many more people have been introduced to our organization and The Giving List helped us become more visible to those who may give more in the future.”