5

Edit: Thank you all for your answers, I consider this issue resolved! The answer appears to be that there is no easy or universal platform that enforces charity-matching commitments, but that

  • charities are often willing to work with you to set up a match if you are a moderately big relative to the size of the charity (my $2000 might have "a shot" with a small charity), and
  • I should look for existing matching programs on fundraising or crowdfunding platforms.

I would like to be able to pick a charity, set up an interface for people to contribute to that charity, and promise to match all contributions made through this interface up to a certain amount (probably around $1000). Alternatively, I would like to find someone else who is already doing this and donate to their chosen charity.

Does anyone know of a (low-cost) service that makes this possible? I don't want to have to learn any cryptocurrency type techniques

I'm guessing the challenges are proving that I will match contributions, and ensuring that the contributors have actually contributed to my chosen charity.

Failing this, are there websites that aggregate charity-matching commitments (where I could search for things like "the Elizabeth Moneybags Foundation will match charitable contributions to the Derek Zoolander Center up to $10,000 for the period 2/1/2018-6/1/2018")?

  • This probably isn't a duplicate, as recommendations are off-topic here. You might search the Arqade Meta site, as it seems like someone does something similar there. Ktash charity post. If you have enough rep to chat, that might be easier. – Brythan Apr 1 '18 at 4:12
  • Thank you! You mean like recommendations for particular services or investments? – capet Apr 1 '18 at 20:55
  • Could you explain why you want to do this in the first place - as opposed to just giving $Y to charity X? If you set up a matching agreement with the charity then they will certainly have donations of $Y that would have happened anyway, for you to “match” so it’s really no differetn and saves them the hassle of setting up the matching. – Vicky Apr 2 '18 at 8:25
  • Thanks Vicky! I want to encourage other people to give as well as giving myself, as long as it is cost-effective for the charity to enable that. My hunch (nothing more than that) is that there is a cost for setting that up, but that maybe 10% of the matched contributions are contributions that otherwise would not have happened (people giving because they see their gift as "amplified" by a matching funder). Maybe the effect is not that big or is not worth it for a ~$1K contribution, but it has to have some impact or else nobody would use matching, right? – capet Apr 2 '18 at 12:30
4

You don't get to be your own charity collections engine unless you want to do all the legwork (read: legal work) that has been done by companies like JustGive, IndieGoGo, or Amazon Charities -- among other things

  • to license yourself in every state to be a charitable fundraiser*. There are fifty of 'em!
  • to either make your entity nonprofit, and deal with the paperwork and timelag of that designation; or go for-profit and deal with the morass of law that deters the abuses we've seen (fundraising companies back-charging the charity 91% of the money they fundraised, did happen).
  • create a platform to allow you to positively prove you aren't pocketing half the donations. Charities, large donors, state AGs and the IRS will expect to see this.

There's a really staggering amount of fraud in this area. Half the work is proving you're not that.

This kind of picayune nitwork is sheer agony that distracts you from your goal. Don't reinvent the wheel.


For instance, you can go to a charity, ask them to spin up an IndieGoGo or competitor campaign, and make (to the charity) an enforceable pledge that you will match it 100%. The fact that an independent third-party (IndieGoGo) is handling the money/accounting solves a lot of the accountability issues.

Now the enforceable pledge is a legal debt. You need to pay it. If push comes to shove, they can take you to court to pay it, garnish your wages, all that. (of course it's very bad form to beat up a donor like that.) As such, I like to put clauses in pledge agreements that say if I donate using other methods, that reduces the amount of the pledge by the same dollar amount. Same if I arrange a donation from my donor-advised fund. That gives me the latitude to donate in ways practical for me.

If you are a 5-digit donor, you should seriously evaluate donor-advised funds. They solve so many problems.


* You notice some crowdfunding platforms don't support nonprofit campaigns. This is why.

  • Awesome, thanks for the detail and the warnings! Maybe one day soon I will get to five figures :). For now I'm a four-figure donor. You seem very knowledgeable so I will risk an even more specific question which may be too specific: If I can give about $2500, is that enough to be worth a large charity's time to spin up an IndieGoGo and help me draw up a binding commitment like you describe? – capet Apr 2 '18 at 6:00
  • Large charity maybe or maybe not -- but small charity, good chance. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '18 at 16:17
5

In the United States you can't setup your own charity matching site unless you are willing to go though state and federal regulations. If you aren't a charity then peoples donations to your site would not be counted as being a charitable gift, unless the you are regulated by the state a federal taxing authorities.

If you want your money to be matched: find a charity you believe in and periodically check for drives where other individuals have pledged matching funds.

If you want to encourage other to donate: Contact a charity you believe in and offer to match others donations. They will work with you to define the matching rate, the time period, the qualification rules, and the maximum amount.

Those existing charities will have all the proper paperwork, they will be recognized charities, and they will have a platform for accepting donations.

You don't have to worry about verifying donations, collecting credit card info, or establishing trust.

  • Thank you! 1. Does anyone happen to know of any sites that watch for such drives where other individuals have pledged matching funds? I am guessing that the best way to do it is usually to go directly to the charity site. 2. Considering the option where I set up a matching fund myself by communicating with the charity, do you have any experience of how large a matching commitment is necessary for it to be worth the charity's time? – capet Apr 1 '18 at 3:26
  • I have seen the matching amount be small when the average donation is small. – mhoran_psprep Apr 1 '18 at 3:30
4

Usually just telling the charity that you'd like to structure a gift like this will work. Many charities already have donor networks to whom they will forward the notification.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.