How charities can make the most of our improved match funding model

Charity Relationship Manager at the Big Give, Rachel Earnshaw, recently spoke to Civil Society about how changes to our match funding model for the Christmas Challenge 2017 helped us to raise over £11.3 million, and how charities can make the most of the new model. Read her thoughts below.

Last year marked 10 years of the Big Give, and the week-long Christmas Challenge raised over £11.3m for 528 participating charities. The campaign also received the highest number of donations, hitting 29,500 over three times the number in 2015. The Christmas Challenge provides an opportunity for charities to raise substantial funds, but it has not been without growing pains. Until 2015, the campaign ran on a competitive model where match funds were allocated to groups of charities and used up on a first-come-first served
basis. From customer feedback, we knew that there were several pain points in this process:

The competitive nature of the match funds created a stressful and frustrating experience; charities cited examples where match funds had run out in minutes, meaning months of preparation and communications to donors was in vain; and there was too much of an element of chance to the success of the campaign. The campaign was also disjointed. It was run over several days with match funding “released” on each day, which meant the campaign was start-stop in nature. To rectify this, we started adopting agile methodologies (a practice from the tech industry) in the way that we work in 2014.

Opportunity cost

Following extensive consultation with our customers, we launched a new model in 2016. This marked a shift to a non-competitive model where funds were ring fenced for each charity. The new model means that we have been able to improve customer satisfaction for charities and donors, from 62 per cent in 2015 to 98 per cent in 2016.
However, it comes with its own set of challenges. Ring fencing funds means that if a charity doesn’t hit its target, then match funds are left over at the end of the campaign. One
of the Big Give’s priorities has been to ensure that any funds remaining are kept at a minimum because it is funding which might have been used by another charity. In 2016 and 2017, 92 per cent of the match funds were used thanks to the success of participating charities hitting or nearly hitting their targets. However, it’s not just a case of good luck; there is a lot of hard work that goes into ensuring this outcome.

Keys to success

A successful Christmas Challenge campaign is no longer down to an element of chance, relying on the respective success of competing charities, it’s now all down to planning and strategy. The most successful charities took a strategic approach to the Christmas Challenge 2017 from the beginning – setting an appropriate target and planning how to promote the campaign and to whom. This can apply to charities large and small.

What steps can you take?

To read about how your charity can make the most of the campaign, please read the full article which was published in the January issue of Fundraising Magazine.

If you’d like to register your interest in taking part in the Christmas Challenge 2018, click here.