Study: Matching Gifts Online Are Down the Line

A recent online survey conducted by Arizona State University's Nonprofit Management Institute suggests that direct mail is still vitally important to fundraisers that receive corporate matching gifts, but the Internet may replace direct mail in the next 10 years.

Of the 500 heads of matching gift programs who responded, 89 percent said they use direct mail, but only 7 percent said they expect direct mail to be a primary means of communicating with donors in 2010. Seventy-five percent said they think that by 2010 most matching gifts will be initiated and fulfilled via the Internet.

The institute conducted the survey during February in preparation for the annual Council for the Advancement and Support of Education Matching Gifts Symposium to be held April 24-25 in San Antonio, said Scott Sheldon, director of development at Arizona State University's College of Extended Education, home of the Nonprofit Management Institute.

Sheldon used five nonprofit e-mail lists to send heads of matching gift programs e-mail messages directing them to the survey site, hosted by, a company specializing in online surveys. Seventy-three percent of the responses came from colleges or universities, 2 percent from day schools and 24 percent from other sectors, mostly health-related or cultural institutions.

“Matching gifts tend to be a priority in the educational marketplace, and also they're the people who are most likely to subscribe to Listservs because they had the technology first,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon cautioned that the audience's technology orientation colored the results.

While 56 percent of respondents promote matching activities via their agencies' Web sites and 18 percent use e-mail, 79 percent reported that using the Internet to promote matching gift opportunities has had little or no effect on the amount of money collected.

“There were high hopes, but that has not translated into increased revenue,” Sheldon said.

But if increased revenues are not drawing nonprofits to the Internet, immediate response, the absence of paperwork and low cost are.

“The study suggests that while the Internet will ultimately be an important part of the development process, more time will be needed before the true economies of scale are realized,” Sheldon said.

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