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Facebook has put out their GivingTuesday announcement for charitable donations. They basically promised to match up to 100 dollars per month if you do a monthly donation to a charity through them. Unfortunately they have other restrictions of donating no more then $100,000 per nonprofit and a total of $7 million in total donations.

I'm going to donate to a charity (givewell.com) no matter what, but it's easier and more cost efficient for me to donate it all at once at the end of the year if I don't get matching. So basically I want to donate through FB IFF it will lead to matching and otherwise do donating my own way. Which begs the question, will my donation actually be matched, or are the other restrictions set by FB low enough that they will hit their upper limits before my donation get's matched?

Of course this isn't limited to FB, pretty much everyone that offers to match or make donations put's some upper limit on how much before they stop, which leads to the regular question of 'will my actions actually lead to money being matched?' When it's some big company advertising they will donate money if you buy their product I generally assume their going to hit their limits and my actions will never lead to a donation - not that it matters in their case since I'd rather just donate money to a charity directly then buy something so 0.1% of it's price will be donated.

But with someone like FB where they aren't going out of their way to heavily advertise it and it's not a blatant marketing ploy just to get more units sold It's not so easy. Is there a good way to determine rather a donation will actually be matched? or should I stick to my regular policy of assuming any group that offers to match up to some value X will hit that value and thus aren't worth considering when attempting to optimize my donations?

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It's hard to know ahead of time whether your donation will be matched. The way these work, in most cases, is that at the end of the year the sponsor adds up all the donations and adds its own donation per the outlined conditions.

Consider the scenario:

Throughout the year charities A, B, and C received each $5M of donations through the program. No other charities received anything, for the sake of the example.

The sponsor limits $100K per charity and $7M total, so in this case, each charity will receive $100K, and the sponsor will only match $300K in total. It means that out of each $1 any individual donor donated to either of the charities, $0.02 were matched by the sponsor. Does it matter to you if you were in the first $100K donated?

Now consider charities 1...100 each receiving $1M in donations sequentialy. In this scenario, if charity receives $100K, the overall $7M limit is exhausted after the 70 charity. The sponsor may reduce the total match per charity, or just not match anything to charities 71 and beyond, depending on the program structure.

The specifics of the distributions, and various edge cases, and how exactly matching happens - all detailed in the sponsorship plan, which is an official and binding document. These programs are audited by independent auditors, and the totals are disclosed, but you may not be able to know ahead of time how much exactly will be matched.

Specifically for the program you linked to, the full terms and conditions are here.

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