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Matchless Matching Campaign

   Dec 01, 2006

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently conducted a fundraising campaign, "Save the Science," which promised that the Union of Concerned Scientists board of directors would "match all contributions from UCS members from now until July 21 to expand our critical work on scientific integrity." Another campaign, "No New Nukes," made a similar promise, "Donate now and your gift will be doubled!" What donor could pass up the chance to "double" the effect of their gift and bring in additional resources for the charity with generous board members ready to match donations "dollar for dollar?"

Donors may be disappointed to learn that, in fact, "board members were not matching donations out of their own pockets," according to Cheryl Schaffer, director of finance & administration at Union of Concerned Scientists. Rather, Union of Concerned Scientists simply used money it budgeted from donor contributions outside of the campaigns, and later reallocated it for the matching gift campaigns with the board's approval. In other words, budgeted funds were merely being shifted among different programs or accounts within the organization. The solicitations may have confused donors into thinking that Union of Concerned Scientists would only receive the "matching" funds on the condition that the donation was made by the July 21st deadline, and that Union of Concerned Scientists would miss out on these additional resources if they did not donate quickly.

CharityWatch believes that Union of Concerned Scientists should be more forthcoming in its solicitations that the source of the "matching" funds is really money that the charity has or will receive anyway, regardless of whether or not a donor makes a contribution to the matching gift campaigns. Deciding how donor contributions will be used within the organization and budgeting for different programs is part of the board's job, and is not the same thing as matching donor contributions with their own money. Union of Concerned Scientists said the campaign was successful, and that they plan to conduct similar campaigns in the future.

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