Make match funding central to fundraising, says academic Beth Breeze

In a report based on evaluation of the Catalyst grant programme, the University of Kent's Beth Breeze says the matching encourages donors to give to endowment appeals

Beth Breeze
Beth Breeze

Match funding can help charities have far greater fundraising success and should be central to fundraising efforts, a report from the University of Kent says.

The results are based on a five-year evaluation of the Catalyst endowment grant programme, which was carried out by the academic Beth Breeze of the University of Kent with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England.

Catalyst was set up by the HLF to encourage more private funding for culture and heritage, and offered match funding of between £500,000 and £5m to encourage organisations to grow endowments as a long-term source of income.

Awards were made to 31 grantees totalling £36m in match funding, the report says, and the successful funding recipients were monitored by the university.

The report says that all of the grantee organisations felt heritage would be better managed as a result of Catalyst and organisations would be more resilient as a result of the funding.

All but one of the Catalyst grantees received additional private money, raising a combined £53.3m before matching.

Once match funding was granted, the grantees received a combined total of £83.1m.

Two-thirds of the organisations involved reached the targets they were set because of the match-funding promises that were made, the report says.

Most charities were on a 1:1 match-funding scheme through the DCMS and the HLF, but some larger charities had 2:1 or 3:1 schemes, according to the report.

"The vast majority of grantee organisations reported that the matching offer was instrumental for approaching and encouraging donors to give to the endowment appeal," the report says.

"As the grant period coincided with a time of economic difficulties, the matching offer often, but not always, helped to override legitimate concerns about low interest rates, which were a particular barrier for major individual donors and trusts and foundations."

The report says that the majority of respondents intended to continue fundraising for an endowment, "so it is reasonable to claim that the Catalyst programme has successfully kick-started and developed endowment fundraising among grantees, in line with the programme’s goal".

The report recommends providing money for fundraising training and skills development alongside match funding, and says organisations should be encouraged to write long-term strategies and business plans beyond the agreed grant period.

Organisations considering fundraising for  endowments should ensure total senior management and trustee support for the endowment so that there is internal prioritisation of the appeal, set realistic fundraising targets and start planning as early as possible, the report says.

They should also ensure that their messaging is clear and that they focus "on the project and longevity to capture donor interest", the report says.

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