[GUEST POST] Matching Gifts: 4 Tips for Mastering 2-for-1 Fundraising
Editor’s Note: We recently hosted a webinar with our friends at Double the Donation. View recorded video here!
Imagine this: You’re standing at a vending machine. You’re hungry, but you only have one dollar bill. You select the bag of chips that looks the fullest from where you stand on the other side of the glass. You smooth out your dollar and insert it into the machine. Then, something so fortuitous happens that you almost can’t believe your eyes. Instead of just one bag of chips descending to the claim area of the vending machine, two bags take the plunge. This is the fundraising equivalent of matching gifts.
Matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy program in which a company makes a donation to a nonprofit that an employee of said company has already donated to.
As your organization moves to enhance your matching gift efforts, we have some tips for how to master the awesome opportunity offered by this type of corporate philanthropy.
- Master the elements of matching gift guidelines
- Understand the process of collecting matching gifts
- Spread the word about matching gifts
- Leverage the best matching gift software
In this article, we’re going to give you all the answers so that your organization can bump your matching gift efforts up to the next level.
Let’s dive in!
1. Master the elements of matching gift guidelines
The first thing you must know about matching gifts is that each company that offers this type of program gets to set their own guidelines. However, the elements of these programs are always the same.
The match ratio defines the amount that a company will donate in relation to the employee’s original contribution. The most common ratio is 1:1, a direct dollar-for-dollar match.
Though 1:1 is the most common match ratio, it does vary widely. We’ve seen match ratios as low as .5:1 and as high as 5:1. 5:1! Turning one donation into six is worth pursuing!
Each company will also set the minimum and maximum donation amounts that they will match. Interestingly enough, the minimum refers to the original donation amount, but the maximum is actually the total amount that a company will donate on behalf of one employee.
Say an employee donates $5,000 and works for a company that offers a 2:1 match and a maximum of $5,000. The company will donate that $5,000 matching contribution, which is actually a 1:1 match, but maximum trumps match ratio.
Another element that can affect the amount of a company’s matching donation is the employment status of the employee who made the initial contribution. Some companies will match donations made by retirees at a lower rate than for full-time employees.
Soros Fund Management LLC. offers a 2:1 match for partners and a 3:1 match for full-time employees. This is a great example of an employee’s status affecting the match.
Another factor is the nonprofit receiving the donations. Some companies will not match donations to certain organizations. On the flip side, some companies will match at a higher rate for certain organizations or institutions.
For example, ExxonMobil offers a higher match ratio for donations made to educational institutions that for donations made to cultural organizations.
Although each company sets their own standards, you now know exactly what to expect when exploring these programs.
2. Understand the process of collecting matching gifts
Unlike the arbitrary nature of company-specific matching gift guidelines, the process for collecting matching gifts is always made up of the same, simple steps.
First and foremost, the employee makes the initial donation. This contribution is what kicks off the whole process.
From there, it’s up to the donor to submit a matching gift request to their employer. However, the organization can play a role here.
The biggest hurdle to matching gifts is lack of donor awareness, so nonprofit organizations and educational institutions should make an effort to inform donors about matching gifts at every turn.
The next step is where the company gets involved in the dance. Often companies and corporations will employ one or more people to manage their matching gift requests. This person or team will review the request and ensure that it qualifies for a match.
Then the matching gift agent will reach out to the nonprofit and confirm that the donation was made as reported. If it all checks out, the company sends their matching donation!
Though the process is really quite simple, the breakdown seen at step two is detrimental to matching gift revenue. In fact, this lack of donor awareness explains why there is $4-7 billion in matching gift revenue left on the table every year.
Spreading the word about matching gifts is one of the most important steps that an organization or institution can take toward increasing their matching gift revenue.
3. Spread the word about matching gifts
There are so many ways to spread the word about matching gifts to your donors. Whether it’s during the donation process, before, or after, any time that you mention matching gifts could be the one that turns a single donation into two.
Let’s talk about a few proven places where matching gift information can impact your donors.
Dedicated matching gifts page
A dedicated matching gifts page on your organization’s website is a great way to start informing donors about matching gifts. In fact, dedicated match pages can turn a casual visitor to your website into an active donor.
Mentioning matching gifts in fundraising appeals results in a 71% increase in response rate and a 51% increase in the average donation amount. Plus, 84% of people are more likely to donate if they know that their gift will be matched.
Offering a page where donors can learn about matching gifts and even search for their employer’s matching gift program can significantly increase matching gift revenue.
Check out this example from the ASPCA of a dedicated matching gifts page.
Notice how they present matching gift information in a simple and digestible way before encouraging donors to search for their employers’ in the search field.
What’s special about the donation form, unlike any other spot on your organization or institution’s website, is that you know the visitors on this page are already interested in supporting your organization.
By mentioning matching gifts on this page or even including a matching gift search tool, you can increase the amount that people choose to donate before they click submit. Remember that mentioning matching gifts results in a 51% increase of the average donation amount.
You can seamlessly include a matching gift search field right on that donation form. Check out this example from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Notice how they’ve tucked the matching gift search tool right underneath the donation amount. Placing matching gifts somewhere on the form where donors can’t miss it is key.
The confirmation page immediately following the donation is another prime spot for matching gift information. Unlike the donation page, which needs to be simple streamlined, you can include as much information on the confirmation page as you do on your dedicated matching gifts page.
Plus, you’ve already done the heavy lifting: prompted the donation. Now you can offer your donors the opportunity to double their impact without asking for a single extra dollar.
Check out this example from the American Cancer Fund.
Notice how they use this page to thank their donors and reiterate how much their support is appreciated. They explain how this contribution will be used to further their mission, but they leave it to the donor to “See if your employer will match your donation.”
In 2019, this one is a no-brainer. Social media is a free and easy way to reach your audience and let them know what’s important to your organization. That makes social media the perfect place to share about matching gifts!
Quick and direct messaging about matching gifts can be impactful, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or another platform where your audience can keep up to date on your organization. Here are a few examples with varying amounts of detail:
No matter how you say it, what matters is that you plant the seed of matching gifts in your donors’ minds so that they submit those matching gifts to their employers after they donate.
4. Leverage the best matching gift software
The best step you can take toward increasing your overall revenue through matching gifts is also the one that will save your organization time, effort, and energy. Matching gift software is the ticket to claiming your piece of that unclaimed $4-7 billion.
Double the Donation’s 360MatchPro is the most robust matching gift software available, and it’s also the easiest. With this tool, your organization will barely have to think about matching gifts again, and your matching gift revenue will increase. It’s a win-win.
360MatchPro provides fully automated matching gift tracking, email outreach, and aggregated insights to improve your matching gift efforts as you go.
This tool removes the minutia, the stress, and the guesswork from matching gifts. Every donation made to your organization flows into 360MatchPro. The donor’s email domain is automatically scanned for employer info, plus they are given the opportunity to self-report their employer.
With employer information attached to each donor, you can automatically see which donations might qualify for matching gifts. Beyond that, the transaction records update when the donor has submitted their matching gift request and reports back using the button sent via email.
These emails can be fully customized to reflect your organization’s branding, so your donors will get personal emails from your organization encouraging them to submit matching gifts as many times as your organization chooses (another customizable element of 360MatchPro).
With 360MatchPro, you’ll have twice the power behind your matching gift efforts while reducing actual hours spent on this fundraising push. Let the software do the work for you.
Takeaway: Matching gifts are an opportunity for both your organization and your donors. Once you’ve mastered what they are and how they work, all that’s left to do is share with your donors. Priority number one is reducing the gap in knowledge between donors and matching gift information.
With 360MatchPro, not a single match-eligible donor will go without matching gift information. They will be sent company-specific guidelines and the opportunity to submit a matching gift request right then and there. So what are you waiting for? Go claim your matching gift revenue!
by Adam Weinger, President, Double the Donation
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.