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4 Crucial Things You Need to Know About Matching Gifts

Published by Adam Weinger
4 Crucial Things You Need to Know About Matching Gifts

How would you like to have donations to your organization doubled? Sounds too good to be true, right? After all, this is the buy-one-get-one-free opportunity of your dreams.

When you are looking for the secret to raising more funds for your nonprofit, you are willing to try any new, promising strategies. The solution is simple: matching gifts.

Matching gifts will revolutionize how you think about fundraising and managing your donor engagements. Utilizing a good matching gifts program is essential to ensure you maximize the impact of each and every eligible donation to your organization.

So, you may want to incorporate matching gifts into your fundraising strategy, but you still have no idea how to take advantage of this sector of corporate philanthropy. You may be asking:

  1. What is a matching gifts program?
  2. Why don’t more people take advantage of matching gifts?
  3. How do I promote matching gifts?
  4. Which matching gift tool is best for my nonprofit?

Don’t worry! This post will answer all of your questions and provide you with the information you need to know to start optimizing your fundraising strategy with matching gifts.

So, let’s dive in and prepare you for an entirely new source of nonprofit revenue!

1. What is a matching gifts program?

Matching gift programs are a type of corporate philanthropy in which the donor’s company doubles their employee’s donation to an eligible nonprofit.

You read that right: a donor’s initial contribution has the potential to be doubled without that donor reaching further into their wallets! 

Despite their potential to dramatically increase nonprofit revenue, matching gifts programs are often underutilized. That’s because many nonprofit development officers and donors alike don’t know such programs exist or how to pursue them.

You might be surprised to learn that matching gifts programs are relatively widespread. Over half of the Fortune 500 companies, along with many other corporations, offer their employees a matching gifts program. 

Depending on the company, many matching gift programs have different match ratios the company is willing to contribute to match the employee’s gift, often at 1:1, 2:1, or even 3:1! Effectively, if an individual employed at an eligible company donates $100 to your organization, their employer would then donate $100, $200, or even $300 to your organization.

The matching gifts process is easy and simple — for you, your donor, and their employer. Let’s walk through the process. 

Let’s say an individual who works at a Fortune 500 company donates to your nonprofit. Using your matching gift database, you can determine if this donor is eligible for a matching gifts program based on their employer information. Once you determine their eligibility, the donor submits the appropriate forms to their company. The employer will then match their employee’s donation to your organization.

To make the process even easier, you can integrate the matching gift tool directly on your donation page. As your donor makes their contribution, the matching gift tool will automatically prompt donors to input their employer information to determine their eligibility. 

A matching gift program is the best resource to maximize each donor’s giving potential. It allows you to optimize a gift of average size, maintain donor engagement, build connections in the corporate world, and help donors make the greatest impact possible for your mission.

2. Why don’t more people take advantage of matching gifts? 

Only about 7-9% of donors are currently using a matching gift program to double their donations, which means a huge amount of revenue is being lost. It’s estimated at between $4-7 billion in matching gift revenue goes unclaimed each year. 

Plenty of companies offer matching gift programs. This re:Charity article discussing top matching gift companies lists major corporations, such as Disney, Starbucks, and The Home Depot, that all have substantial matching gift programs. If so many prominent companies have these programs, why don’t more people take advantage of them? 

Here are a few reasons why more people don’t leverage matching gifts: 

  • Donors have never heard of matching gifts
  • Many donor’s don’t know if they qualify for a matching gift
  • Nonprofit organizations do not effectively promote matching gift programs as a fundraising opportunity on an ongoing basis
  • Nonprofits do not have the necessary resources to manage matching gifts, such as a matching gift automation system that integrates with their donation software 

So the main problem: a lack of awareness and resources. However, your nonprofit can easily resolve these issues! 

Because most donors don’t know about matching gifts, your nonprofit needs to do everything in its power to leverage software that helps you identify these programs, then inform eligible donors about the opportunity. 

3. How do I promote matching gifts?

Now that you know the main blocker to matching gifts is unawareness, you might be wondering how you can educate your donors about matching gifts. 

There are plenty of concrete ways that you can promote your matching gift programs. Let’s take a look at our top three strategies. 

Use a matching gift database.

Many of your donors likely use an online method of donation because it’s an easy and convenient way to contribute to your organization. So you should also make it as easy as possible for them to participate in a matching gifts program, and the best way to eliminate roadblocks in the matching gift process is to automate it as much as possible.

As you read in the first section, part of the matching gifts program requires donors to determine whether or not they are eligible to participate. The best resource you can provide to donors is a matching gifts database search tool.

Using this search tool, your donors can easily search to see if their employers match gifts. Here’s what this search tool might look like:

This tool will provide information such as:

  • Whether a company has a matching gifts program.
  • The minimum and maximum match amounts. These can vary based on the company. Some companies match anything from single to four digit donations! For example, American Express will match donations between $25 to $8,000.
  • The ratio at which a company will match. While most companies contribute at a 1:1 ratio, there are more generous ratios out there that have the potential to quadruple a donor’s contribution.
  • Employee eligibility. Determine if the company will match gifts for full-time, part-time, or retired employees.
  • Volunteer grants. Some corporations are willing to donate on behalf of volunteers to match the number of hours they spend working with your organization. A company might donate $250 for an employee’s 25 volunteer hours, and $500 for 50 hours, etc.
  • Types of nonprofits the corporation will support. Types of nonprofits that companies generally include in their matching gifts program are educational institutions, health and human services, arts and cultural organizations, civic and community organizations, environmental organizations, and sometimes religious institutions.
  • Submission process details. The tool should also link out to the match request form and provide basic information about the corporation’s submission process and deadline.

With a matching gift database that integrates with your donation tools, you can further streamline the process by prompting donors to verify their eligibility while they’re submitting their contributions. This way, donors can complete the process in one step and potentially increase their donation, knowing it will be matched.

Follow up with donors about their matching gift status.

Don’t give up on getting your donors to participate in a matching gifts program simply because they have already finished your donation process. Many corporations allow a window of time — some even up to a year — for employees to turn in their request forms.

Following up with your donors after their donation is the key to informing more people about matching gifts. Consider emailing your donors and asking them to check their eligibility for matching gifts. Use a call-to-action in the subject line to increase the likelihood that they open your email. Some examples include:

  • Do you want to have your donation to [organization name] doubled?
  • Double your contribution to [organization name] with employer match.
  • Help [organization name] [organization’s immediate goal] by participating in a matching gifts program.

People donate to charitable organizations because they want to make a difference. They will be grateful for the opportunity to maximize their impact, especially if it’s free to them. Emails reminding donors about matching gifts that are sent within 24 hours of a donation have an open rate 2-3 times higher than the average nonprofit email! Automating these emails ensures that they get sent out soon after the donation is made.

However, be sure that you pick your recipients carefully. For example, you should disable matching gift emails for major donors, who might already be aware of the program. 

Launch a matching gift outreach program.

Lastly, you can further promote your program by launching a matching gift outreach initiative. 

It’s crucial that you continue to promote matching gifts — it shouldn’t just be a one-and-done deal. Create social media posts about matching gifts, feature your program in your newsletter, and include it in emails to your mailing list. Each of these outreach methods can further educate your donor base about the substantial benefits of matching gifts. 

Additionally, consider creating a dedicated space on your website where visitors can learn more about matching gifts and how they work. If you already have a “Ways to Give” page, you can also include information about matching gifts there. 

Throughout the year, there might be times when you want to double down on your marketing efforts. For example, during the busy year-end giving season, consider launching a robust marketing campaign promoting matching gifts to make the most out of donations that are likely already coming in from your annual donors. 

But remember: promoting your matching gift program year round ensures that your donors remain aware of how they can increase their contribution to your nonprofit.

4. Which matching gift tool is best for my nonprofit?

Another reason that nonprofits struggle to make the most out of matching gifts is a lack of tools to streamline the process. This is where a matching gift database comes in handy. 

A matching gift database consolidates a ton of information about matching gift programs across the country into a single resource. With a matching gift database, it will be quick and easy for donors to verify their eligibility and for you to follow up about the donation. 

But how do you know which matching gift database is right for you? There are four things you should consider: 

  • Your nonprofit’s size: Your nonprofit will have different matching gift needs depending on your size. If you run a small nonprofit, there are plenty of reduced price databases that can easily fulfill your needs. For larger nonprofits, consider investing in a more robust database to maximize your potential revenue from matching gifts. 
  • Integrations with your current software: Although matching gifts are important, you don’t want to have to switch software solutions to accommodate your matching gifts database. Choose your database based on its ability to integrate with your current donor management system and donation software.
  • User friendliness: As we mentioned, donors want their matching gift experience to be quick and easy. That’s why, when searching for your database, you should pick one that has a user-friendly interface that will be easy for your donors to navigate.
  • Responsive customer support: As with any new software or database, you should be able to get support when you need it! Be sure that your selected database has a responsive customer support team that can help fix any problems quickly.

Maximizing the benefits of matching gifts requires the right tools, so investing in a matching gift database ensures that your donors can double their donations. 

Now that you’re familiar with matching gifts, don’t let this opportunity for extra revenue pass you by! Matching gifts are the best way to take advantage of corporate philanthropy and maximize the impact of your existing donors. Encourage your donors to check their eligibility for matching gifts and do everything in your power to make the process as easy as possible for them.

Published by Adam Weinger

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Double the Donation's robust solution, 360MatchPro, provides nonprofits with automated tools to identify match-eligible donors, drive matches to completion, and gain actionable insights. 360MatchPro integrates directly into donation forms, CRMs, social fundraising software, and other nonprofit technology solutions to capture employment information and follow up appropriately with donors about matching gifts.