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Ideas for Setting Up Matching Grants

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Have you ever tried a challenge grant to raise money for your shelter or rescue? Many nonprofits find these grants to be a very effective way to generate funds. A challenge or matching grant typically matches funds dollar for dollar up to a certain amount for donations received. Here are some ideas for setting up a matching grant to benefit your shelter.

Develop a list of donors you can approach from time to time about offering a matching grant. Analyze past donations and ask your board and friends group for ideas. Try not to overdo it with any one individual. You can work with one donor or a group of donors for a matching grant. For example, in December a group of three anonymous donors in our area offered to match dollar for dollar all donations by December 31st up to $100K for a human homeless shelter. The local paper printed an article about the grant and explained the dire straits of this particular organization in meeting expenses at that time.

State a specific use for the money. You could earmark the money for spay and neuter services at no cost or at a reduced rate. Or specify that the money would go toward veterinary services for homeless pets.

Let your community know about the matching grant offer. Post it on all your website pages, in your email newsletter and on your Facebook page. Post flyers at local pet food stores and veterinarians’ offices. Send a press release to local newspapers about the matching grant. If your paper has a pet section (often these are printed one day a week), send a notice to one of the pet writers.

Approach local corporations to set up matching grants for your shelter or rescue. In this economy, it may take some time to do this but the results can be very rewarding if you succeed. Check with your board and friends group for anyone with contacts at local businesses.

Corporate matching grants which match donations of their employees require special promotion efforts. Often employees aren’t aware that their companies match grants. If your shelter or rescue is on the list of a company matching grant program, take out small ads in their company print and email newsletters to inform employees. Post this on your own website and any communication (ie., Do you work at XXX company? Sign up to have donations to Taos County Humane deducted from your paycheck and they will match your donation dollar for dollar up to $2000 per year.)

Develop a strategy for using these grants throughout the year to reach a variety of people. For example, some may feel passionate about spay / neuter. Others might want to contribute to renovating the animal shelter. Those providing the matching grant money and the donors in your community will respond to what they’re most interested in. Keep records of which causes generate the most interest and focus more on those.

Specify a time limit for the matching grant, such as the end of the month, till the Fourth of July, etc. A time limit often makes potential donors take action right away.

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