Match Game: The Importance of Matching Funds

For most grant-making organizations, an applicant’s ability to demonstrate available matching funds to support the proposed project and sustain the program or facility is a key factor of the evaluation criteria.  Many grant-making organizations prefer to be one of many sources of funding for an organization or project.

Keep these notes in mind when you are applying for a grant:

  • Matching funds may include cash already raised or allocated for the proposed project.
  • Matching funds may include donated labor, services or materials relevant to the proposed project – also called in-kind funding.  You can estimate the value of in-kind funding by using current cost estimates for the donation (i.e. how much you would have to pay for the item or service if it wasn’t donated.)
  • Depending upon the type of project, such as a construction project, it may be very important that the applicant demonstrate available cash for cost increases, overruns or other unexpected costs.  Grantmakers will look carefully and think twice if all available matching funds is in-kind with no cash.
  • Do not wait until after you submit a grant application to a foundation or corporation to begin your fundraising campaign to individuals.  According to data from Giving USA 2012, the Annual Report on Philanthropy highlighted on CharityNavigator.org, giving by individuals represents nearly 9 out of every 10 dollars donated, compared to corporate giving which accounted for just 5% of the total giving last year.
  • Think about new and innovative ways to raise funding locally.  Consider online donations, fun and casual events like Happy Hours (for adults only, of course), online auctions with donated products and services from local businesses or sponsors, etc.  Hold a brainstorming session with members of your organization to make a list of who and what to target.   Ask around:  see what other non-profits are doing in your community to raise money.

If you only remember one thing:  start your local fundraising campaign to individuals and local businesses before applying for a grant from a foundation or corporation.

Good luck!

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