During the COVID-19 pandemic, funders in the Social Innovation Forum (SIF) network have led a distinctive path forward; with some partners, bypassing proposals and comfortably exchanging hope to organizations through email and/or phone. An anonymous donor in our network, who has a background funding education in the City of Boston, offered a matching grant opportunity of $5,000 to three organizations in the 2020 Social Innovator cohort: Boston HERC (Higher Education Resource Center); 1647, Inc.; and Elevated Thought.
Drawing on their interest in urban education, this donor sought to uplift a group of Innovators working in the education and youth development spheres.
This summer, Boston HERC used their catalyzing grant to launch its first-ever match challenge, and in a matter of a few weeks, the organization was able to raise over $15,000! Boston HERC leveraged the matching grant to support the expansion of their Alumni Program in response to the new challenges facing students due to the pandemic. Boston HERC realized that their Passport graduates, who would be starting college remotely, needed more support than ever before. They decided to use the match to fast track adding a mentoring component of the Alumni Program, which they had originally planned on launching in summer 2021.
Most donors who contributed gave the largest gift they had ever given to the organization!
Boston HERC’s donors were extremely responsive to the match challenge grant. One major donor was inspired to add their own $5,000 to the fundraising pool. The organization also attracted a record number of new donors at the $500 level, which they had not typically seen at Boston HERC in the past. It was evident to the Boston HERC team that folks were willing to give, as they knew their donation would be doubled and go farther. As a new mode for raising funds, this matching grant helped them both engage new donors and re-engage old donors and provided an opportunity to fund an important new initiative.
“The philanthropic partner who took initiative to connect with us opened up the opportunity for us to try something we never had before: a match challenge grant,” said Erin Diaz, Boston HERC’s Director of Development. “When we launched the match, we quickly realized that our community of donors was thrilled to rally around the opportunity. Most donors who contributed gave the largest gift they had ever given to the organization!"
Boston HERC used $10,000 of the funds raised to support an Americorps/Mass Mentoring position to help build out the peer mentoring component of their Alumni Program, with the remaining $5,000 going to support ongoing operations of the Alumni Program. With the funds raised in a short period of time, Boston HERC quickly hired Stephanie Pineda for this role.
The match challenge for 1647, Inc. is underway as the organization raises funds to train educators to collaborate with students’ families during remote learning. Elevated Thought will launch their match in a few weeks with an exciting, new program initiative
Stay tuned to hear more about the success of 1647 and Elevated Thought’s matching grant campaigns. Many thanks to our donors for being so responsive to so many organizations in our portfolio and special thanks to this particular anonymous donor for uplifting our 2020 Social Innovator cohort. We hope this story inspires other donors in the sector to consider the value of matching grants to accelerate the fundraising process for nonprofit organizations.