Client Case Study: Matching Gift Testing with Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre

May 14, 2018

The Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) is located in Barrie, Ontario. RVH provides care for more than 450,000 residents who call Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka their home. The Foundation has been a Good Works client since 2015.

The Year-End Mailing

The RVH Foundation mails donors four times per year – winter, spring, late summer and fall. The year-end holiday mailing has traditionally been the best performing mailing of the year.

This year, the Foundation was able to leverage a matching gift from one of their long term local donors with a one to one match. The package was dropped in the mail on October 25 and to qualify for the match, donors had to respond by December 15. Deadlines are always a great way to create a sense of urgency!

What Donors Got in the Mail

Here’s a quick peek at what donors received in the mail.

The match was a last minute addition to the package. It was referenced in a pull out box at the top of the letter, in the variable copy and in the PS.

Note that we’ve highlighted the copy in this image for you, but it wasn’t highlighted in the package donors received.

donor appeal with matching gift language highlighted

What Does Success Look Like?

When making any changes to your direct mail program, we always like to state what we’re anticipating will be the end result.

In this case, the RVH Foundation looked to assess the success of this mailing along two measures:

  • How did the matching gift impact total dollars raised? It should clearly raise more money, even netting out the matching gift itself.
  • Did the matching gift speed up the response of donors? More money should be received earlier in the mail cycle and before year-end.

It’s important to note that this wasn’t an official test with a control and a test panel. Instead, we looked at the year-over-year performance of the annual year-end mailing.

Impact of Match: Total Dollars Raised

Time Frame

2016 2017 Change (+/-)
# gifts $ raised # gifts $ raised # gifts

$ raised

November 15 to December 15

681

$94,091

1077

$172,119

58.15%+

82.93%+

December 15 to December 31

497

$63,295

410

$62,440

21.22%+

1.35%-

Total

1178

$157,386

1487

$234,559

26.23%+

49.03%+

To start off, let’s answer the first question around the overall impact of including a matching gift. This appeal raised an additional $77,173 vs. the total in 2016. That’s nearly a 50% increase! Where the average gift was $133.60 in 2016, it grew to $157.74 in 2017.  The response rate increased from 3.03% in 2016 to 4.10% in 2017 (note: 1/3 of the file is active and lapsed donors while 2/3 of the file is ex-patient prospects). The match clearly inspired more people to give, and more people to give more.

When looking at the second measure around the speed of response, the match did encourage donors to respond earlier than in the previous year.

In 2016, where there was neither a matching gift nor a deadline, the appeal received 59.8% of its total revenue in the November 15 to December 15 window. Comparably in 2017, the appeal raised 73.3% of its revenue in the same time frame. The deadline motivated people to get their gift in the mail earlier in order for it to be matched.

Notably, the appeals year-over-year raised similar amounts in the last 16 days of the calendar year, although, 2016 pulled slightly more gifts in that period.

In conclusion…

The results speak for themselves here. A matching gift combined with a deadline is a great way to increase revenue from an existing group of donors.

What does Eric Dean, Foundation CEO have to say about this? “Gotta admit – I was a sceptic. I’m glad I got a positive response from the first donor I talked with about the matching gift as it clearly made quite an impact! The donor also found this a great experience and was moved by the positive responses he received from many who wrote notes on their reply thanking the matching donor for their generosity.”

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Holly Wagg

Holly Wagg

Fundraiser. Connector. Photographer. Adventurer. Extroverted-introvert. Digital architect. Change agent. Mother. Architect of random projects.