[GUEST POST] Creating a Matching Gift Strategy: The Nonprofit’s Guide
Corporate giving programs — matching gifts especially — represent a powerful revenue and engagement opportunity for nonprofits of all sizes. However, they’re often overlooked and underused.
It’s not that organizations and donors don’t want to maximize their donations and impact. Rather, they are simply unsure of how to take advantage of them, or worse, they don’t know these opportunities exist.
What are matching gifts anyway?
Matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program where a company matches its employees’ donations to eligible nonprofit organizations. They allow your donors to double (sometimes even triple!) their gifts to your nonprofit without reaching deeper into their wallets. Not only are they great for expanding fundraising dollars, but they’re also helpful in growing a stronger, more committed base of supporters.
Now that you know how you can benefit from matching gifts, you’ll need to implement them in your fundraising. Chances are, quite a few of your donors work for employers who offer matching gifts. To grow their donations (and their impact), let’s dive into the components of an effective matching gift strategy:
- Read up on matching gifts.
- Actively promote matching gifts.
- Leverage dedicated matching gift software.
1. Read up on matching gifts.
The first essential step to create a matching gift strategy is simply learning about them. By reading this article, you’re off to a great start!
Corporate philanthropy invites companies’ employees to be more charitable. Businesses of all shapes and sizes create these programs to generate positive PR and to encourage their employees to become more well-rounded. It’s an easy, structured way for them to support the good work charities are doing in their community.
While corporate giving programs feature everything from sponsorships to volunteer grants (learn more here), matching gifts are potentially your best bet to boost revenue. To facilitate the process, your nonprofit should invest in matching gift software. This way, you’ll pinpoint more opportunities and completely streamline your efforts. Here’s how the typical matching gift process looks when using dedicated software:
- Step 1: An individual donates to your nonprofit.
- Step 2: Using a search tool, they check their eligibility for their employer’s program.
- Step 3: If eligible, they submit a request for a match to their employer.
- Step 4: The company reviews the request and confirms the gift with your nonprofit.
- Step 5: The employer sends the match to your organization.
It’s as simple as that! However, each company sets different requirements around their matching gift policy. Let’s take a look at the common guidelines you’ll likely encounter when dealing with these programs:
- Match ratio. This is the rate at which employers will match. Most are at a 1:1 rate, meaning the initial donation is doubled. Some will match at lower rates while some go as high as 5:1!
- Employee eligibility. More often than not, companies create employee eligibility requirements that are typically based on position or status (i.e., part-time, full-time, or retired).
- Nonprofit eligibility. Most companies place restrictions around which nonprofits are eligible to receive funds. For instance, many major businesses won’t match donations made to religious organizations.
Guidelines vary from company to company, so you’ll need to take time in locating each donation’s eligibility. When your matching gift software helps donors immediately understand not only who has the programs, but also what their requirements are, they’re more likely to request an eligible match.
Knowing the ins-and-outs of these powerful programs enables your nonprofit to make the most of your opportunities. If you want to explore further, visit this comprehensive matching gifts guide from 360MatchPro by Double the Donation. This resource will answer your matching-gifts-related questions.
2. Actively promote matching gifts.
Now that you know the matching gift basics, it’s time to spread the word and get donors amped up about the opportunity! You likely already have an established communications plan in which you can easily incorporate matching gift appeals. Let’s explore a few potential places where sharing matching gift information can be helpful in driving more donations.
Dedicated Matching Gift Page
Creating a dedicated matching gift page is an effective first step in raising awareness. Not to mention, a helpful resource like this may help to convert casual readers into valuable donors.
When designing your page, make sure to feature:
- An explanation of matching gifts
- Why matching gifts are beneficial for donors, their companies, and your organization
- Statistics backing up how significant these programs are
- Your organization’s contact information so readers can reach out with any questions
Once you’ve developed your matching gift page, feature it prominently across your website in your navigation bar. This increases the page’s visibility so you can effectively reach more potential prospects.
Pro Tip: Include an employer search tool on your matching gift page. This way, donors have consistent access to their employers’ instructions, forms, and guidelines.
Submitting a donation is when a donor’s engagement is at its peak, which makes this an opportune moment to promote matching gifts.
To take advantage of this, add a brief appeal to your donation page that explains what matching gifts are and how they can maximize donations. Then, incorporate a search tool to help donors research their eligibility. By learning that they can potentially double their contributions, donors may consider donating even more.
Pro Tip: As soon as donors submit their gifts, greet them with a proper thank you and another opportunity to research their eligibility. Adding an appeal to your confirmation page ensures they don’t overlook their opportunities.
You’re already communicating with your supporters on a regular basis, so why not take the opportunity to let them know how to expand their impact?
Creating a matching gift email strategy invites donors to reach out and explore their donation opportunities. Start by sending out emails to your supporters briefly explaining matching gifts. Keep it short and to the point. Then, link to your matching gift page for more information. Plus, if you invest in Double the Donation’s search tool, interested supporters can instantly search their eligibility.
Then, you can even incorporate them into your regular newsletters. Simply dedicate a section of your newsletter to explaining what they are and how they can help your organization. Alternatively, if you stand to gain a lot from matching gifts (which is highly likely), you can dedicate an entire newsletter to them. Explain the typical process in-depth, convey their importance, answer commonly-asked questions, and invite supporters to research their employers’ programs.
Pro Tip: Include both a text link and a link behind a visual graphic that direct supporters to your matching gift page. This increases the likelihood that readers will click through to learn more.
These are just a handful of the innumerable ways you can promote matching gifts. Get creative with your approach and feature them whenever possible. When donors know to maximize their impact through matching gifts, they’re more likely to do everything they can to help — especially since it comes at no extra cost to them.
3. Leverage dedicated matching gift software.
Each company’s matching gift program features unique guidelines and requirements. Therefore, it can be difficult to determine a donor’s eligibility without extensive research. That’s where matching gift technology can come in handy!
From match identification to email automation, matching gift technology can help take your matching gift strategy to the next level. Here’s just a brief look into the many features this type of software offers:
- Identification tools to locate all match-eligible donors
- A donor-friendly search tool for donors to research their eligibility
- Automation capabilities to streamline outreach to these donors
- Customization options to brand your appeals to best represent your organization
- Security features to protect private donor and organization data
- A dashboard that gives you the complete picture of your organization’s matching gift efforts
Dedicated software is the last missing puzzle piece for your matching gift strategy. By taking the guesswork out of matching gifts, your organization can save time and ensure no opportunities are missed.
Make the most of your revenue opportunities with intuitive, robust technology. In no time, you’ll maximize your gifts, grow donor engagement, and expand your impact!
Mastering matching gifts can be a tricky process. However, it can mean the difference between a good fundraising plan and a great one! Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to take matching gifts into your own hands by creating a plan for acquiring them. Now that you know the essentials, get to work spreading the word and maximizing your fundraising dollars.
If you need some extra guidance, head on over to this comprehensive guide by 360MatchPro. In no time, you’ll be a matching gift pro!
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.