Kickstarter Lesson #30: The Matching Pledge

14 April 2013

For my day job (this is Jamey), I work for a non-profit. A few years ago we decided to try something called a matching gift. It’s when you find a donor who is willing to match any number of donations within a certain time period, and the result is that many more people are willing to give because their donation is doubled. I am always touched by the outpouring of generosity when we do a matching gift.

If you’re 20 days into your campaign and you still haven’t reached your goal, a matching pledge is something to consider if you have someone willing to be the matching donor. It’s fine if they set a limit, even if it’s only $500 or so for a project with a much bigger funding goal. In that case, you would announce to backers in an update that you have a matching pledge available for that day only. Share it everywhere on social media. For anyone who was on the fence about giving, this is a great way for them to get off that fence.

A friend of mine–the artist whose work inspired the final art for Viticulture–did this for a Kickstarter project of his own. Here’s the project update when they announced the match. As Kicktraq shows, the match helped them raise over $2400 in a 2-day period, before which the project had stalled around $4,000 in funding.

This technique is certainly worth a try if your project needs a little push. Feel free to post in the comments if you currently have an active match on your Kickstarter project.

Update: You can see the impact of the matching pledge strategy on the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter, to which Seth MacFarlane pledged to match every pledge between the $4 million and $5 million funding marks (for a total of $1 million).

Next: Micro Goals

Also, I’d like to take a minute today to introduce the full art for our upcoming Kickstarter project, a board game called Euphoria (subtitle: Build a Better Dystopia). I’ve been slowly releasing pieces of the board on our Facebook page, but this is the first time I’ve showed the entire board art in one piece. The graphic design for the board is done, but we’ll wait until closer to the Kickstarter release to show that (we’re aiming for May 15 for the launch).

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8 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #30: The Matching Pledge

  1. Hi and thanks for bringing up this interesting alternative. I´m in the process of Kickstarting a psychiatry themed card game. This post got me thinking of tweaking the above concept to make it One dollar pledged is one dollar donated to a suitable Non Profit Organisation in psychiatry. For example “Day 20; Eating disorders” Donor X will match the first 500$ pledged today with a donation to Organisation Y. And this could even include; If we reach this goal strech goal Z is unlocked with an eating disorder theme. What do you readers think of this, is it pushing the “No charity” Kickstarter rule to far?

  2. Hi that is a good idea. Thank you for the suggestion! A problem for me though is that I feel more comfortable with Kickstarter(pure habit I think) as a platform for games. And also I´ve backed more projects on Kickstarter and this is always a part of what I look for in creators I want to back. I´ll just have to follow the above advice closely and find donors for a particular disease.
    PS Really looking forward to Scythe DS

  3. Hi Jamey,

    I trust this finds you well? I am currently running a campaign on Kickstarter. Your book and writings have been a major inspiration for some time— and I have made sure that my small team of supports all have a copy of your book!

    If I may however—I wanted to ask your advice on whether I should send an invoice to an angel investor who wants to donate directly to us outside of our campaign…a sizable amount, but toward our goal.

    My issue is that this individual would prefer not to donate directly to the campaign– and is requesting us to invoice to his holding company–with a cheque to be sent (from an end of year budget), but not cashed until the new year. Our campaign ends just before the end of December.

    While this is wonderful—I wonder if this happens often, and if it is advisable to accept this sort of funding? (We could as you suggest, also use it to match on Kickstarter).

    While I don’t want to fill up our entire campaign with a pledge that could possibly not come to fruition (isn’t reliable), I would ideally think that at least by accepting/cashing the amount, before the end of the campaign—it could be applied to our funding goal to make certain that it was reached and our campaign at least successful.

    Curious to know your thoughts and if you have any suggestions?

    Your time and consideration is greatly appreciated : )

    Sincerely, M

    1. M: Thanks for your question. This brings to mind a project called Bluebird Man that was doing fairly well on Kickstarter, but not quite on the pace it needed to be funded. But then a local philanthropic organization made a significant pledge to it, and it took them over the top and beyond.

      You’re in a tough situation because of the donor’s stipulations, but the gift is so large that I think you’re better off to work with the donor. I think you can present your case to him–that it would help the other pledges make a difference through a successfully funded campaign, and that a gift to the campaign would potentially inspire other backers as well–but if he doesn’t want to do that, it sounds like your cause will still benefit quite a bit from the gift.

      Good luck!

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