Most educational institutions⁠ (K-12 and higher ed alike) ⁠rely on generous donor funding to help support school initiatives. One of the most powerful types of educational fundraising campaigns has to do with academic Giving Days⁠—and matching gifts have the potential to bring these dedicated initiatives to new heights.

In this guide, we’ll share everything your development team should know about driving academic Giving Day success with matching gifts. Read on to explore:

According to charitable research, overall giving to higher education grew more than 7%, while online donations increased over 11% year over year. At the same time, reports indicate that online giving to K-12 institutions has increased by 11.7%. And for many schools, the rise of well-planned-out Giving Days has played a vital role in their growth.

Even better? Corporate matching gift programs enable groups like yours to diversify key revenue sources and grow comprehensive fundraising impact with ease. This is true both on academic Giving Days and beyond.

Let’s dive in.

Academic Giving Day Basics | What to Know

Before jumping into key ways to amplify Giving Day success with matching gifts, let’s lay a foundation of broader knowledge regarding Giving Days. And more specifically, academic Giving Days for educational institutions.

Here are four things you should know:

Academic Giving Days are hosted by schools of all shapes and sizes.

Education and matching gifts graphicGiving Days campaigns are commonly established by colleges and universities. But they aren’t only used by higher education groups. Nor are they exclusively hosted by the largest institutions, either.

In fact, Giving Days are popular among schools of all shapes and sizes⁠—including K-12, private and public schools. When organized and promoted effectively, Giving Day fundraisers can bring big results for all kinds of education-based organizations.

Academic Giving Days often see substantial donor engagement.

Your academic institution likely receives tons of donations throughout the year. Perhaps your online donation page (and other giving methods) have above-average conversion rates, providing critical funds for your school all year long. You might note certain spikes in giving at regular intervals in accordance with other fundraisers, events, and more.

But without a dedicated Giving Day, it’s not likely that your institution will see particularly high engagement levels within a 24-hour period at any other time during the year. That’s because, historically, schools and other Giving Day-hosting organizations see substantially elevated giving rates compared to the average calendar date.

Understanding this idea can help your team plan your academic Giving Day strategy going into it. When you expect record levels of donor engagement with your giving form, for example, you can know to finetune and optimize it beforehand. The same is true as you work to integrate corporate matching into your overall fundraising plan.

But why? That leads us to our next point.

Academic Giving Days leverage a sense of urgency to drive action.

One of the primary reasons behind the overarching success of the Giving Day concept is that it leverages a sense of urgency that drives many donors to action. And that’s something that can be missing in a lot of other fundraising efforts.

For example, let’s say donor Bob receives a direct mail appeal from his alma mater. He thinks, “Oh, I’d love to give back to show my appreciation for the school.” But then, his mind is drawn in a hundred different directions. Since there’s no deadline for the gift request, he falls into the well-known limbo of “I’ll get to that later.”

Giving Days, on the other hand, are characterized by very specific⁠—and very rapidly approaching⁠—deadlines that tend to inspire immediate response. As you consider your campaign plan, remember to make the most of the urgency involved, from your fundraising asks to your matching gift follow-ups.

Academic Giving Days can be elevated by matching gift strategies.

Corporate matching gift programs have the potential to double donations, stretching individual impact farther for the cause. Your institution likely already benefits from matching gifts, even without a dedicated strategy in place for your academic Giving Day.

However, at a time like your annual Giving Day (when you’re already expecting significantly elevated giving), it’s more important than ever before to encourage matching gifts. After all, over 26 million individuals work for companies that match employee donations. And nearly all companies that match gifts agree to do so to educational institutions.

Matching gift concept for academic giving days

According to our re: Charity guide to matching gifts and higher education, “Donors love participating in matching gift initiatives because the programs enable them to make a larger impact on the causes they give to⁠—namely, your college or university⁠—which also provides your team with additional opportunities for supporter engagement.”

And the same findings can be applied to other institutions, such as K-12 schools, as well.

When incorporated into a fundraising strategy, matching gift program availability typically produces increased conversion rates and donation amounts. Recent analysis of matching gift initiatives indicates that 84% of individuals are more likely to donate if a match is offered, while 1 in 3 donors would contribute a larger gift if matching is applied.

Matching gift impact statistics

Just imagine how those statistics can impact your school’s next Giving Day!

Making the Most of Academic Giving Days with Matching Gifts

Not incorporating matching gifts into your Giving Day strategy is sure to result in available corporate funding going unclaimed. Those are dollars that could otherwise be going toward your school’s mission.

That said, to make the most of all revenue sources at your disposal, it’s crucial to account for⁠—and promote⁠—matching gifts. Here’s how you can do so!

Mention matching gift opportunities in Giving Day fundraising appeals.

We mentioned that corporate giving statistics report highlighting corporate matching in donation appeals as a key way to drive conversion rates. In fact, simply mentioning matching gifts in fundraising appeals results in a 71% increase in response rate and a 51% increase in average donation amount.

Increasing Giving Day donations with matching gift promotion

That said, be sure your institution is positioned to reap those benefits by incorporating matching gift promotions within your academic Giving Day appeals. This is a tried-and-true best practice for driving results⁠—regardless of whether your appeals are conducted through email, SMS messaging, social media posts, or even direct mailings.

Collect employment data in your school’s Giving Day donation form.

In order to most easily uncover available matching gifts, it helps to have a record of your donors’ employing companies. One of the simplest ways to find this data is to simply ask⁠—directly within your school’s Giving Day donation form!

You know your donation page is likely to see sky-high levels of traffic during the 24-hour period that is your giving day. Use the opportunity to collect the information you need. Especially when you provide context as to why you’re requesting employment data (i.e., to identify match-eligible donations), supporters will likely oblige.

University employer search tool promoting matching gifts

Doing so can be as straightforward as incorporating an optional field in your donation form that requests the name of the company an individual works for (or perhaps is retired from). However, we recommend utilizing software that enables your team to embed an intuitive employer search field in your form⁠—more on that below.

Encourage actionable next steps after Giving Day donations are submitted.

Giving Days are often particularly engaging experiences for donors⁠—whether they’re students, family members, alumni, faculty, or friends. Many supporters retain some of that elevated engagement level even after completing their donation. And that’s what makes post-transaction calls to action so impactful for driving matches on your academic Giving Day!

Generally, two key methods for doing so include your gift confirmation screen and follow-up emails.

Your school’s confirmation screen (or thank-you screen) is likely the first thing donors see after clicking “submit” on their recent donations. They’re still feeling increasingly connected to your institution and its mission. Now is the perfect opportunity to request that they follow outlined next steps to request their match.

University confirmation screen promoting matching gifts

Then, for individuals who opt not to take action from the thank-you screen, triggering match reminders via email can be a great way to re-engage. And when sent within the first 24 hours following an initial donation being made, matching gift emails typically see 200-300% higher open rates compared to the average nonprofit email.

University follow-up email promoting matching gifts

In either case, be sure to provide company-specific matching gift information. This should include minimum and maximum match amounts, matching ratios, submission deadlines, qualifying donations, and more. And most importantly, when available, don’t forget to share direct links to online match request forms for ease of access.

Explore matching gift software prior to your Giving Day.

Our final tip involves scaling and automating corporate match fundraising for your school with innovative matching gift software. And doing so can even help streamline the previously mentioned best practices as well!

Let’s see how our favorite matching gift provider works. With 360MatchPro by Double the Donation, your institution can:

  • Identify more matches with multiple donor screening methods, including your donation form, confirmation screen, automated messaging, and email domain screening;
  • Trigger personalized yet automated matching gift emails, providing detailed eligibility criteria and next steps based on identified eligibility;
  • Track matching gift data to enable beneficial insights and estimate incoming matching gift revenue;
  • Drive more matches to completion through timely and consistent follow-ups reminding donors to submit their match requests.

Driving academic giving day and matching gift success with 360MatchPro

That said, if you have an academic Giving Day coming up (or even if you don’t), we recommend getting set up with matching gift technology as soon as possible.

4 Giving Day Campaigns with Standout Matching Gift Practices

See the above tips in action! Take a page from a few schools we’ve seen with excellent practices for their academic Giving Days and matching gifts.

As you view some top examples, take note of elements that you’d like to incorporate into your own future efforts.

Russell Sage College

A private college with two school campuses, Russell Sage College is located in Albany and Troy, New York. Russell Sage College’s Sage Gives 2022 was the institution’s 7th annual 24-hour Giving Day challenge. And they raised nearly $130,000 in that limited time frame this past year!

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Russell Sage College

Let’s take a look at this school’s Giving Day campaign⁠—and how they incorporated elements of corporate matching into their strategy.

Sage Gives 2022 Donation Form:

Russell Sage College begins highlighting matching gift opportunities directly from their online giving form. During the donation process, the school requests employment information from their donors with an embedded company search tool.

They even provide brief context into the opportunity at hand, stating that “Many companies sponsor matching gift programs that increase the impact of your gift” and encouraging Giving Day donors to enter their employers’ names to determine eligibility.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Russell Sage College

Sage Gives 2022 Confirmation Screen:

After submitting a donation, Russell Sage College donors who had previously filled in employment information are provided with company-specific matching gift program details. On the confirmation screen, they are met with direct links to online submission portals and eligibility criteria from their employer.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Russell Sage College

Follow-Up Matching Gift Email:

In the minutes after submitting their donation, donors are again prompted to complete their match request with a reminder email. This outreach provides detailed information on the donor’s corporate matching program and shares specific next steps to complete the process.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Russell Sage College

With multiple follow-ups that encourage tangible action, Russell Sage College is able to simplify the request experience for donors and drive more eligible matches to completion.

University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a private religious university based in San Diego, California, and chartered in July 1949.

USD’s Torero Tuesday is an annual Giving Day designed to raise funds to support the school’s academic programming, campus ministry, athletic groups, scholarship offerings, extracurricular activities, and more. In 2022, the day of giving brought in over $1.87 million.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: University of San Diego

Here’s how this school incorporated matching gift efforts in its overall academic Giving Day efforts this past year.

Torero Tuesday Donation Form:

Tons of Giving Day donations were processed through USD’s online donation form. With this in mind, the university took that opportunity to strategically promote matching gift opportunities within.

As individuals completed donations to the Torero Tuesday campaign, they were similarly asked to provide the name of their employing company in the online form. Doing so allows USD and its matching gift software to quickly identify available matching gifts.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: University of San Diego

Torero Tuesday Confirmation Screen:

After being rerouted to the donation confirmation screen, USD donors are provided with ample in-depth information about their company’s matching program. When available, this ensures supporters have the resources they need to take the next steps directly following the donation process. They’re likely still riding the engagement high from making a Giving Day donation in the first place, resulting in many donors following suit immediately.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: University of San Diego

Follow-Up Matching Gift Email:

Sometimes donors won’t click to get their gifts matched directly from the confirmation screen. But the University of San Diego has a backup plan in place, either way! Just a few moments after completing a gift, donors receive a detailed matching gift reminder sent straight to their email inbox. Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: University of San Diego

This message provides eligibility criteria, links to online submission forms, and more to, again, simplify the request process for donors as much as possible.

The Pennington School

Located in Pennington, New Jersey, the Pennington School is a private, coeducational college preparatory school for day and boarding students in the sixth through twelfth grades. Each year,  Pennington School hosts an annual academic Giving Day that aims to support “all that makes the school special.”

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Pennington School

Pennington’s Giving Day makes a special effort to incorporate matching gift information throughout the Giving Day experience. Let’s see how!

Pennington School Matching Gifts Page:

The Pennington School provides abundant information on corporate matching gift opportunities from their Employer Matching Gifts web page. This resource, linked directly from the school’s Giving Day campaign page, encourages supporters to maximize their giving impact with a corporate match.

And the school has embedded an intuitive company search tool within the page for easy access, as well. This empowers donors (potential and prospective alike) to determine whether their employer offers such a program in seconds. Since we know that 84% of donors are more likely to donate if a match is available, providing a simple way to uncover this information is essential.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Pennington School

Pennington Giving Day Donation Form:

In addition to promoting the school’s giving levels and offering suggested donation amounts (which are also academic Giving Day best practices), the Pennington School encourages supporters to enter employer information in the institution’s giving form.

Using an auto-completing company search tool within the donation page, donors can begin typing the company name and select the pop-up that matches their employer. From there, Pennington can determine and communicate matching gift eligibility to drive next steps post-donation.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Pennington School

Pennington Giving Day Confirmation Screen:

On the Giving Day confirmation screen, donors are provided with personalized information regarding their employers’ matching gift programs. After being identified as match-eligible, donors are encouraged to navigate to their online matching gift request portal.

This confirmation page also links to the previously mentioned dedicated Employer Match page to provide additional details and a contact to reach out to for help.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Pennington School

Follow-Up Matching Gift Email:

For donors who did not submit their match requests from the confirmation screen, the Pennington School also incorporates detailed follow-up emails in its strategy. These messages, sent within minutes of the initial donations being made, thank donors for their contributions and encourage them to amplify their impact with a matching gift.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: Pennington School

As Pennington embeds a multi-faceted matching gift strategy within their academic Giving Day, the school provides multiple easy opportunities for donors to get involved. And the result is likely an increase in matching program participation!

UMass Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is a public research university in Lowell, Massachusetts. This institution hosts yearly academic Giving Days, with the most recent UML Days of Giving 2022 being the 5th annual event.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: UML

Here’s how UMass Lowell is making the most of matching gift opportunities with their 48-hour Giving Days.

UML Days of Giving Donation Form:

UMass Lowell begins marketing matching gifts directly within their Giving Days’ donation form. They provide a lot of good information during this process, too!

In fact, the form states that “If you or your spouse work for a gift-matching company, you can easily increase the size of your contribution at no additional cost to you.” It then goes on to explain that guidelines can vary from company to company and that donors can easily determine if they qualify by entering their employer’s name in the search box. From there, UML even informs users that they’ll receive additional information post-donation so that they know what to expect.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: UML

UML Days of Giving Confirmation Screen:

As previously mentioned, UML Days of Giving provides ample matching gift information directly after the initial donation is complete. This includes match eligibility criteria⁠—including minimum and maximum donation amounts, match ratios, qualifying employees and organizations, and more. Plus, links to company request forms are typically incorporated, as well.

Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: UML

Follow-Up Matching Gift Email:

Following the initial donation, supporters are provided with additional matching gift information via email. This reminder is designed to drive donors who had not submitted their match directly after giving to take a few minutes to do so now.

Again, the email acknowledges the initial contribution and thanks the donor for their support. From there, the outreach lays out instructions for submitting a request and even encourages donors to let them know when they’ve completed the process.


Academic giving days and matching gifts - example: UML

All in all, the goal is to streamline the match submission process for the school’s Giving Day (and other) donors. The easier the matching gift experience is⁠—and the more guidance individuals have throughout⁠—the more likely they are to complete their request.

And, of course, the more donors who complete their match requests, the more corporate funding will funnel into your institution for even greater results.

Wrapping Up

Academic Giving Days tend to bring significant fundraising success to the schools that organize them. By incorporating strategic matching gift opportunities, you can empower your institution and those that support it to double donation impact.

The bottom line? You don’t want to overlook matching gift programs when putting your next annual Giving Day into action.

Ready to learn more about powerful matching gift fundraising practices for schools like yours? Check out these additional recommended resources:

Drive your Giving Day and matching gift revenue.