The giving season and matching gifts go hand in hand. Is your organization prepared?

The end of the year is quickly approaching, and many nonprofits rely heavily on year-end fundraising success to set their teams up for success going into the new year. You probably know that individual donors tend to be increasingly charitable during this time. But did you also know that the giving season offers substantial opportunities for corporate gift-matching, which can effectively double an organization’s fundraising potential?

In this guide, we’ll share everything your nonprofit team needs to know regarding the end-of-year giving season, employer matching gifts, and how the two concepts work together. Here’s what we’ll cover:

In the next few months, your organization is likely to see significant increases in donor engagement and overall fundraising revenue. If you want to get those gifts matched (which you should), read on to find out how to optimize your strategy.

Why the Giving Season Matters for Nonprofits

According to end-of-year fundraising research, nearly one-third of the average nonprofit’s revenue comes in the month of December each year.

Meanwhile, many nonprofits raise as much as 50% of their annual fund from their year-end giving asks.

And 59.9% of organizations incorporate between one and three touches in their end-of-year giving campaign.

Giving season and matching gifts in December

It’s a busy time for nonprofits, but the results tend to be highly lucrative, making the time and resources invested more than worthwhile. As for the “why” behind these findings, many theorize that increasing charitability has to do with the feelings of generosity and goodwill that come with the holiday season. However, it likely also has to do with the fact that it’s during this time that nonprofits dedicate tons of additional efforts to fundraising⁠—and it pays off!

As a result, the giving season is known as one of the greatest opportunities for an organization to put its fundraising efforts into overdrive. Luckily, corporate matching gifts can help.

How Matching Gifts Can Help Drive Year-End Revenue

According to this compilation of corporate giving statistics, approximately $2-3 billion in matching gift funds is donated each year, with around 11% of total corporate contributions being made through such programs. That’s a particularly impactful source of corporate philanthropy, and it enables nonprofits to increase their fundraising potential with ease.

Not to mention, individual donors are more likely to give⁠—and are likely to give more⁠—if they know matching gift opportunities are available. The aforementioned statistics share the following findings: 84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is available, and 1 in 3 donors say they would give a larger gift if a match was applied to their donation. Overall, integrating matching gifts and fundraising results in a 71% increase in donation response rate and a 51% increase in the average gift amount.

Increasing matching gifts during the giving season

Now consider this: your organization will likely send a number of giving season fundraising appeals, and you have the potential to engage with tons of donors during this time. Incorporating matching gifts in your efforts will empower your team to better engage with donors while collecting “bonus” donations from corporate matches and even seeing increased gift sizes, to begin with. Talk about the more, the merrier!

Giving Season + Matching Gifts: Top Questions and Answers

Whether it’s your first giving season as a nonprofit fundraiser or you’ve simply looking to expand the results of your efforts by leveraging matching gift programs, you may have some questions as to how you can do so effectively and efficiently. Here are some of the most-asked questions⁠—and answers⁠—from organizations like yours.

Are matching gift opportunities available on Giving Tuesday?

Many organizations kick off the giving season by participating in Giving Tuesday⁠, the worldwide day of giving that raises billions of dollars for nonprofit causes across the globe each year. If you’re considering or planning your own Giving Tuesday campaign, you might be wondering how matching gift opportunities can come into play.

Giving season and matching gifts on Giving Tuesday

To answer your question⁠—yes! Matching gift programs are typically available for employee donors year-round, though many see increases in participation come Giving Tuesday and the rest of the year-end season.

In fact, the official Giving Tuesday website shares the following information about matching gifts on Giving Tuesday in their nonprofit toolkit:

Did you know that each year, an estimated $4-7 Billion USD is in corporate matching gift funds goes unclaimed? Ask your donors if their employers will match their donations to your cause!

When promoted well, matching gifts can help fundraising organizations continue to leverage and maximize charitable momentum on and beyond Giving Tuesday.

What companies offer matching gifts? Do my donors work for these companies?

Tens of thousands of businesses offer matching gift programs, with nearly 27 million individuals working for companies that have the programs. More than likely, a substantial portion of your organization’s existing donors will fall into this group.

If you’re looking for specific companies with well-known matching gift programs, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular ones. These include;

  • Disney (1:1 match up to $15,000 per employee per year)
  • Coca-Cola (2:1 match up to $20,000 per employee per year)
  • ExxonMobil (3:1 match up to $22,500 per employee per year)
  • American Express (2:1 match up to $8,000 per employee per year)
  • Merck (1:1 match up to $30,000 per employee per year)

To determine whether your supporters work for these companies (or any of the thousands of other businesses that match team members’ personal donations), we recommend collecting employment information within the donation process. From there, you can access matching gift program guidelines to determine eligibility and follow up with donors accordingly to secure maximal matching gift funding.

Why doesn’t my organization already earn a ton of matching gift revenue?

If donors like participating in matching gift programs so much (which they do), you might be wondering why any individuals would not complete the process to submit their matches⁠—and why so much available match funding goes unclaimed each year.

We’ve written on this topic before and uncovered several key challenges that result in unrequested matching gifts. These include;

  • Lack of awareness of the programs in general
  • Lack of direction on how to complete the request procedures
  • Missing required submission deadlines (often the result of a lack of awareness surrounding the deadline, to begin with)
  • Limited time and resources available for nonprofit fundraisers to devote to these programs.

Thus, some of the best things an organization can do to drive additional revenue through matching gift programs is to focus on increasing awareness through marketing and communications strategies. The more your donors know about matching gifts, the more likely they are to participate when the time comes.

When are matching gift requests due to donors’ employers?

A donor’s specific matching gift deadline can vary depending on the company they work for. While some employers may require donors to submit their requests as soon as a month after they complete their donations, others can offer as long as a year from the initial gift.

Meanwhile, many choose to enact deadlines that are in line with the end of the year in which the gift was made⁠—regardless of the date of the donor’s own donation. Others still set their limits at the end of the year plus a grace period (such as January, February, or even March of the following year).

Giving season and matching gift deadlines

Do note that because many companies align their deadlines with the calendar year, it’s a popular time for nonprofits to begin following up on match-eligible donations. Make sure to incorporate year-end reminders in your strategy, so you don’t miss out on those matching gifts whose submission windows are rapidly approaching.

What are custom match programs, and how do they fit into my giving season strategy?

Custom matching gift programs are a unique form of corporate donation-matching in that it essentially describes a relationship between a company and a specific nonprofit it chooses to support. This type of partnership generally involves a tighter nonprofit-corporate relationship and can offer significant benefits to each party. Not to mention, custom match programs are typically designed as short-term campaigns, and many companies are looking to give back in the spirit of generosity—making the end-of-year giving season a perfect fit.

In order to secure a custom matching gift partnership, it’s a good idea to begin your corporate outreach well ahead of the giving season’s arrival. Pitch the idea, be sure to communicate the benefits of the opportunity for the prospective partner, and work together to establish eligibility criteria and other key guidelines.

Then, begin promoting the campaign opportunity to qualifying donors, and watch as the gifts begin to double!

How can my fundraising tech simplify matching gift fundraising this giving season?

More than likely, your organization is already equipped with a number of fundraising tools⁠, including an online donation platform, CRM, and more. But do you have access to a matching gift database and automation solution? This type of software can empower you to raise more through matching gifts without having to dedicate a ton of time, effort, and resources to doing so⁠. And it may integrate seamlessly into your organization’s existing fundraising technology ecosystem!

More specifically, the software can prompt donors to easily uncover their own matching gift eligibility and even provide company-specific insights into program guidelines and next steps. Not to mention, this can all happen without your fundraising team lifting a finger, which is particularly beneficial come the chaos that can be the year-end giving season.

Tips for Elevating the Giving Season with Matching Gifts

Now that you have the basics of the upcoming giving season and matching gift strategies down pat⁠—what’s next? Consider these tried-and-true best practices to see even greater results.

1. Market matching gifts through all of your communication channels.

Because some of the most substantial roadblocks to matching gift success concern a widespread lack of awareness, one of the best things you can do is put in the extra effort to spread the word about the opportunities. And that means using most, if not all, of your favorite donor communication channels.

For example, your organization’s optimal multichannel marketing strategy may include a combination of the following avenues;

  • Email (including fundraising appeals, updates, and e-newsletters)
  • Website (ways to give page, dedicated match page, navigation menu)
  • Google ads
  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, paid ads)

All in all, the result should be getting your network increasingly familiar with matching gifts conceptually, as well as excited to partake in their own employers’ corporate giving programming.

2. Mention matching opportunities in the donation process.

Donors tend to be at their highest level of engagement while actively contributing to the causes they care about. Now, pair that with already-elevated enthusiasm for the giving season. You’re likely to see a ton of giving momentum within the year-end giving experience.

And you don’t want to waste that momentum, either⁠. That’s why it’s the perfect opportunity to incorporate matching gifts directly into the donation process. Consider these practices on how to do so;

  • Collect employment data using your end-of-year donation page (and all giving pages, for that matter). Once you have this information, you can compare donors’ companies against those with giving programs to uncover matching opportunities.
  • Provide matching gift program details on your confirmation screen. After submitting their donations, make sure supporters have what they need to take the next steps for matching gifts. This should include eligibility criteria as well as direct links to online submission forms.

Come the year-end giving season, you can expect to see significantly increased traffic to your donation and confirmation screens. Be sure to make the most of the opportunity by plugging in matching gifts wherever you can!

Making the most of giving season and matching gifts momentum

3. Follow up quickly on match-eligible (and unknown) donations.

Research reports that sending matching gift reminders within 24 hours of a donation results in a 53% open rate. That’s 2-3 times higher than the average nonprofit’s open rate! Plus, it goes to show that follow-ups should be conducted quickly after an individual submits their initial gift.

This is even more crucial when it comes to getting donations matched within the giving season. In the spirit of increased charitability, donors often support multiple nonprofit causes in a relatively short amount of time. However, each individual’s matching maximum is only so high. To ensure your organization can benefit from a donor’s match before they reach their annual cap, you’ll want to factor speed into your communications strategy.

4. Reach out to eligible donors who haven’t yet requested their matches.

Immediate matching gift follow-ups are great, and hopefully, many of your donors will choose to follow suit. Realistically, though, you can expect that not all supporters will do so. And that’s where retroactive follow-up messaging can fit into your strategy.

Following up on giving season matching gifts

Perhaps an individual submitted a gift that your team flagged as likely matching gift-eligible in January. However, you also see that the donor never indicated that they completed the match request process. The good news is the contribution might still qualify for matching —and now is the time to get it done. This is especially vital during the year-end, considering it’s a common cut-off for companies’ match request deadlines.

5. Incorporate urgency in your year-end matching gift appeals.

One key advantage of end-of-year fundraising is the tangible deadline⁠—and, by extension, sense of urgency⁠—that comes with it. And the same benefits can be applied to your matching gift efforts, too.

By leveraging urgency in your donor messaging regarding matches, you can drive more supporters to immediate action. After all, imminent deadlines can be the best way to combat the all-too-common mindset of “I’ll request that match tomorrow.”

To communicate urgency, match request deadlines that align with the end of the calendar year can come in handy. Plus, you can pair that with a tangible objective to further elevate results. For example, consider sending a goal-based appeal. “Help us reach our annual matching gift goal of $20,000 by requesting your matching gift by December 31.”

Giving season will be here before we know it. That’s why now is the optimal time to get your organization and its fundraising team ready with corporate matching gifts. Double your nonprofit’s incoming donations and double the difference you’re able to make on your mission⁠. It’s a win-win⁠—not to mention the fact that donors love participating in the programs to increase their own giving impact.

Want to learn more about matching gifts and other nonprofit fundraising strategies? Explore these valuable educational resources here:

Go beyond giving season and matching gifts with this guide to corporate philanthropy.