A large donor (or other organization, or group of individuals, etc.) may offer to “match” donations. E.g., a “1-for-1 match” for every $1 donated, they may agree to donate another dollar. These matches can be at different rates (50%, 200%, etc), and they may have limits (e.g., up to a total of $200,000).

Alternative tool name:

Tool variation:

Category: Incentives/gifts

Sub-category: Direct incentive

Relevant theories: Public goods, Optimization, Impact, Warm glow - sophisticated, Dual systems (system 2)

Type of evidence: Field-exp-charity, Field-exp-charity

Evidence strength (ad hoc assessment): 7

Main findings

There is some evidence that the presence of a match does increase out-of-pocket donations (Karlan and List); however, it works in an unpredictable way and may act simply as a signal. It may even be counterproductive (Huck and Rasul, '11), better to be simply a 'lead gift'. However, we have evidence from only a few selected field experiments, not from a broad range of settings. Meier ('07) finds the positive (participation?) effect may be crowded-out in the longer run when the match is removed.


Practical relevance

Use cases


Key papers

Secondary papers

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  • tools/offer_a_matching_donation.txt
  • Last modified: 2019/03/11 00:40
  • by david