Interview with the Person Behind the Matching Challenge
In 2022, the partner of a Frankfurt law firm approached the Education Fund team and challenged RWTH alumni to make a special effort as sponsors this year with the "Matching Challenge".
We caught up with him to find out his motivation for launching this Challenge and to ask him to outline the process and shed light on the long-term goals of the fundraising campaign.
How did you come up with the idea of launching the Challenge?
I myself have been a Deutschlandstipendien scholarship provider since 2015. The University of Freiburg, my alma mater, approached me about becoming a scholarship provider - since then I have been awarding Deutschlandstipendien scholarships in Freiburg. Since 2021, I have also been doing this at other universities. This resulted in ten scholarships coming into existence. As I had already launched a Matching Challenge in 2012, I quickly realized that this was a very good way to acquire donations. Over time, more and more Matching Challenges came about, all of which worked and always led to the amount of donations being multiplied.
Personally, I would like to increase my level of impact. My goal is to donate a certain percentage of my gross income each year. With the help of the "Matching Challenge" system, it is therefore possible for me to acquire large donations with a lower capital investment, since the money invested is multiplied by the contribution from the second Matching Partner, the alumni and the federal government.
What is your reason for doing all this?
I would like to support the universities in making even better use of their fundraising opportunities among scholarship holders and alumni. By successfully implementing the Matching Challenge, I would like to create long-term, self-running structures at the universities so that more students can benefit from the scholarship funds.
Were you able to benefit from a scholarship yourself during your studies?
Indeed. I received various scholarships throughout the course of my studies. During my studies, I received what is referred to as a book allowance from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is today's equivalent of the Deutschlandstipendium. I also financed my stays abroad in England and the USA as well as part of my doctoral studies with scholarships.
The TU Dresden was very successful with the Matching Challenge last year, acquiring twelve additional scholarships. How many more universities have you been able to motivate so far?
So far, I am in talks with a handful of universities across Germany about carrying out such a challenge. In addition to RWTH, the University of Freiburg and TU Dresden are planning to hold a Matching Challenge in 2022. There are probably two to three more universities to come. That's an increase in the spread of the idea from one university in 2021 to five universities this year.
Incidentally, the University of Freiburg was even able to acquire around 1,000 euros among current scholarship holders during the current funding period. This shows that it really is never too early to donate. We are even teaching our children to donate with their pocket money: A certain percentage should be passed on. That way, they learn early on that donating is a good thing.
What is your goal for the whole of Germany?
My goal is for the Matching Challenge to become a natural fit at as many universities as possible in the future. If five universities can be motivated to hold a Matching Challenge this year and this format runs as well there as it does in Dresden, there may be 10 universities by 2023 and 20 universities by 2024.
I plan to be available as a sponsor for this myself over the next few years. Over time, however, the idea will have to become independent of me, if only because of the increasing number of universities and the need for donations as anchor sponsors. To achieve this, the universities that use this format must find suitable sponsors locally and they must build up self-supporting structures.
Summarized in your own words: How does the Challenge work?
Together with the second Matching Partner, we are offering a total of up to 18,000 euros. The alumni are also required to collectively come up with a donation total of 18,000 euros. The total amount of 36,000 euros will then be doubled again by the federal government.
However, if the amount is not reached by the alumni against all expectations, the Matching Partners do not participate. This is meant to be an extra incentive for alumni to get their act together when donating. We want the alumni to win the challenge!
How do you wish to encourage alumni to participate in the Challenge?
That's easy: Donating makes you happy.
In one of your areas of expertise, "venture capital," you do a lot of work with investors. Do you see yourself as an investor in the future of students with this Challenge?
I tend to think of it more as voluntary work.
We'd like to thank the person behind the Challenge for the work that he's doing and for taking the time out to give us this exciting interview.