Big Match Warwick 2016 Review

Author’s note (Dec 5th, 2018): I’m not sure it’s something I’d want promoted as an activity local groups should try anymore, since their comparative advantage is community building and not fundraising. I think I frame that kind of campaign in too positive a light and don’t offer reasons for why a group might not want to do it, implying that I think groups should run a Big Match campaign.

The first Big Match campaign was run here at Warwick in 2013. With this campaign, our old team raised £22,000 for AMF and managed to secure a large donation from the Vice Chancellor of the university. The campaign was replicated by Giving What We Can Oxford in 2013 and 2015 (?) and enjoyed similar success.

Note:** **This campaign is tailored specifically for a campus university setting. To apply this initiative outside of this setting, replace society ‘execs’ with any set group or team (e.g. local EA group, colleagues, companies) and replace ‘students’ with a similarly large audience (e.g. friends, family, employees). Ideally, the audience should significantly outnumber the core group so that if someone from the core group pledges to match £100, for example, 10 people can donate £10 each in order to match that.

The Big Match is a fundraising campaign in which people pledge to ‘match’ other people’s donations to a charity - we chose the Against Malaria Foundation. As a university with a huge number of societies and sports clubs, we decided to start by asking the ‘execs’ (committees) of these groups to pledge to ‘match’ student’s donations and build our ‘matching pot’. This can be done by donating either a proportion the society’s funds or by the exec clubbing together a sum from their own pockets. Once the group has agreed to match a set amount, we ask them to publicise this and to encourage members of the society or club to donate to AMF and have their donation doubled by their exec. However, the exec’s money can match any donation and is not specified solely for their members. Members of our society will also individually donate to add to the pot and this will likely make up a significant proportion of the pledges.

The process of actually donating to AMF was simple and done entirely online. We set up two AMF fundraising pages: one for matchers and one for donors. Matchers only ‘pledge’ to donate at first and only once donations from students come in do they actually donate to the matching page.

There were three distinct stages to the campaign; one stage of preliminary ground work, one in which we encouraged execs to pledge their matches and a third stage in which we publicised the matching pot and encouraged students to donate and have their donation doubled.

Preliminary stage

For the first preparatory stage, we firstly assigned everyone in the committee roles with certain tasks (although everyone is involved with securing pledges from societies and clubs).

  • **Matchers **- A few of our members acted as ‘lead matchers’ due to having more links with groups on campus. These people were predominantly responsible for contacting societies and professors and encouraging them to pledge to match a certain amount of money to AMF. Although these people secured most matches, everyone was responsible for enlisting matchers.
  • **Designers **- We assigned two people in our group to design posters/flyers/profile pictures. You can see these designs in the public portfolio
  • Filmmakers - Two members of our group, who had skills in film-making and editing software were asked to plan, film, edit and release the two videos (one which acted as a ‘hype’ video and another as the main campaign video)
  • Financers - We assigned one member the task of creating the two AMF pages and manage donations (see below). This person was also responsible for keeping track of the donation pages and ensuring donations were going where they were meant to
  • Templaters (?) - One person, with help from the rest of the team at points, constructed templates for messages to be sent both to matchers and donors. More details on this later.
  • Marketers - This group of about 3 members were responsible for distributing the flyers, putting up the posters, managing the Facebook group and sharing the video in the final stage of the campaign.

The other tasks involved in the preliminary stage were creating the two AMF donation webpages and producing templates to make contacting people more efficient. Creating the webpages was an easy task thanks to AMF’s website. Quite simply, we made one for matchers, which was later sent to matchers privately and one for donors. You can see the donations that went to these pages - note that the matching donations are typically larger than those to the donation page. The two pages also attracted a similar amount of money (the ~£7500 from the matching pot was matched by the ~£7500).

As mentioned, another preliminary task was writing templates we could all use to contact potential matchers. We made a general template to be sent to the relevant member of a society or sports club, leaving blanks for the name of the society. In this template, we included:

  • Information about the campaign
  • How the society/club can donate (i.e. each member of their committee pledges to donate to AMF and we consider the total pledge the society/club’s ‘match’. More info on this later)
  • A link to the Warwick 2013 campaign video to show how societies can get involved in the video
  • The link to the AMF matchers page
  • The link to the AMF donation page so that they can encourage their members to donate and ‘match’ the committees donation.

We made similar templates targeting professors from certain departments and for university staff

With these templates, we used ideas from social psychology to make them more persuasive such as:

  • **Anchoring: **Asking people to donate a large amount (e.g. £200) may seem pushy but it means people offer a ‘smaller’ amount (say, £50) as what they consider to be a compromise. Giving them an arbitrarily large number ‘anchors’ them and makes them consider what is still a large donation even though they view it is a compromise.
  • **Social Proof: **We focused on convincing groups or people with an influential role in the university (e.g. the societies officer from our student union sabbatical team, the Ladies and Men’s hockey team, professors) and told other people that these people were involved. This legitimised the campaign and encouraged people to get involved on the basis that people of influence were already involved.


Matching pot money can come from a variety of sources; your committee, the EA community, societies/groups and ‘notable’ individuals in the community. It is worth spending sometime brainstorming possible people and groups to approach and making a spreadsheet with all of the potential matchers, who has contacted them and whether they’ve agreed to donate.

We’ll now briefly discuss the reasons for, and how to approach different groups

Your committee: Raising a significant amount of money internally, before approaching anyone else helps show that you are committed to the campaign and potentially incentivizes other people to add to the matching pot. At Warwick, several members saved their annual GWWC pledge donation to give to the matching pot and we suspect this helped us convince others to add to it too.

**EA community: **The EA community is often very generous with their donations and usually happy to leverage their donations via a matching campaign. Generally this money will not be new, counterfactually raised money but can be helpful in convincing other people to add to the pot. The EA community can also be approached if your matching pot is substantially larger than the ‘regular’ donations you have received towards the end of your campaign to fill the gap.

Societies/groups: The sorts of groups you can approach are university societies, sports clubs, local businesses and organisations. These are the most valuable people to approach from a marketing perspective as they can help to advertise the campaign to a much broader audience. Approaching people you have personal connections with increases the likelihood of them adding to the matching pot. However, cold-emailing lots of groups using a mail-merge to send out a template is also valuable if you can collect email addresses easily.

‘Notable’ individuals: In a university context, notable individuals include sabbatical officers, professors and senior management. These are particularly valuable people to approach as they tend to have more money than students and student groups and can help with marketing. Warwick’s 2013 campaign managed to get the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar to donate £5,000 and be in a video promoting the Big Match. We weren’t successful in securing this again in 2016, but senior management did send emails to staff advertising our campaign. Professors’ emails can often be scraped from university department websites and then cold-emailed templates, but again, personal approaches work best. Warwick has had particular success focusing on Economics, Philosophy, Mathematics and Computer Science departments, but that is likely due to the composition of the group.

Following up: Potential matchers are busy people and communicating with them takes time. We originally planned to do this in 2-3 weeks, but we extended this to 4 weeks once we realised how long the initial batch of contacts were taking to reply. Feel free to push people for responses, especially if you are talking to groups who have weekly committee meetings before deciding anything.

Once people have agreed to donate, add them to a spreadsheet so you can keep track of how much has been pledged and who has actually donated. Chase them up about actually donating as well as even the best-intentioned people are prone to forget. It is best to get people to donate before the matching campaign has actually begun as this reduces your workload later.


‘Hype’ marketing

While we were busy contacting potential matchers, we decided to market the campaign in advance through uninformative but attractive posters and a video. The posters consisted of a simple image (which ended up being a prototype for the finalised logo), the words ‘The Big Match’ and the weeks of our term during which the campaign would be taking place. We then put these up around campus, often in groups. These posters were cheap to print and made students somewhat aware of the campaign in advance. Our film team also produced a fantastic hype video including some facts about malaria and the last campaign and which also included ample information about the campaign. This was released a couple of weeks before the campaign started and was later embedded into the AMF donation pages. We also encouraged all our members to share this on social media.


The marketing team were most active once we we made the campaign public and encouraged fellow students, friends and family to donate to AMF and have their donation doubled with our matching pot. The centrepoint of the marketing campaign was the video. Once societies, EAs and professors committed to the amount they were willing to match to AMF, we asked if we could film them saying how much they were donating and to encourage others to donate in order to match their pledge. We encouraged them to use phrases such as “If you donate £10, I’ll donate £10” and “Donate and we’ll match it”. The film team did this during the two weeks prior to the start of the public campaign, filming various people and groups across campus (quite a time-consuming part of the process). If a group or person was unable to be filmed, we also accepted mobile phone footage which did bring down the overall quality of the final product but was still very useful and allowed more groups to be filmed making their pledge.

The campaign video was shared on Facebook via YouTube by all our members and by a few responsive societies and clubs. However, we found that the campaign video was viewed far more frequently once it was uploaded directly to Facebook because this allows it to be played automatically as people scroll through their newsfeed. We also managed to get the video shown around Warwick campus. At the centre of campus is a piazza with a big outdoor screen which advertises various events and sometimes shows films. Our video was shown on this screen occasionally during the last two weeks of term.


Using our newly-created logo, we then constructed a poster design which doubled up as a flyer. This included our logo, details about how to donate online (we created a shorter link to the donation page using ‘bit.ly/warwickagainstmalaria’ so that people could remember it) and how much we could match to AMF which was £7500. We put these poster up around campus during the last two weeks and also distributed flyers towards the end of the campaign. The posters and flyers undoubtedly increased awareness of the campaign but it’s unclear how many people donated because of them. It’s possible that a stronger focus on online marketing may have increased donations at a lower cost.

Online marketing

On top of the video, flyering and postering, we also encouraged EA members and our matchers to tell their friends about the campaign through social media. Our committee all changed their profile pictures and cover photos on Facebook to advertise the campaign alongside some information about the campaign and the video. Additionally, our members were all encouraged to message their friends about the campaign and ask for donations. One effective means of doing this was to create a template which we could copy, paste and send to all of our friends. Although it was time-consuming, direct messages to lots of Facebook friends proved to be a successful means of eliciting donations, probably because of the personal element.


Importantly, all £7500 of the matching pot was matched, meaning the campaign raised (over) £15,000 for AMF! The campaign later received an award for ‘Most Innovative Fundraising Initiative’ from the student union, further promoting the society.

This article was originally published here.
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