FYI Blog

Matchback Integrity

Money Magnifying Glass - medium sizeBack in 2011, I wrote True ROI: Why “Matching Back” Online Contributions Makes Sense – where I took you through the importance of matching back online contributions (also known as attribution) to their original sources.

I would like to revisit that post today and to underscore that matchbacks are excellent tools for revealing a direct marketing program’s true, multi-channel ROI – but only when they are reported properly.

Recently, I have noticed a disturbing trend. Some organizations are attributing full matchback income (both online and on-site) to their direct mail reports—considering matchbacks part of baseline performance. This is not only misleading – it’s wrong. Attribution without nuance distorts analysis, making it difficult to evaluate each channel’s effectiveness for meaningful insights. This in turn undermines strategic planning and decision-making for your fundraising program.

The antidote? Attribution calculations should be transparent and data-driven, in order to avoid double counting or overstating revenue.


As we know, one size does not fit all in direct marketing, and matchbacks are no exception. The best attributions reflect the campaign’s strategy, factoring in, for example, a communication’s target audience. (Are they prospects or current supporters? What is their demonstrated channel preference?) We also recommend using control groups whenever possible, so you can better understand the incremental impact of attributions for your direct marketing efforts.

Matchback analysis is a great add-on to help assess the full multi-channel landscape, but it should never replace your core campaign reports and data-driven attribution principles.


Reporting must be comprehensive, but it must also be built on sound, channel-specific attribution ratios. This will ensure the integrity of the reported performance, eliminate the possibility of double counting, and maintain clean benchmarking


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