When it comes to raising money, nonprofits of all shapes and sizes are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to increase the impact of their supporters’ contributions.
There’s a way your nonprofit can boost its fundraising revenue without requiring your donors to give more, and it’s the best-kept secret in the nonprofit sphere: matching gifts.
Matching gift programs can effectively double the impact of individual gifts made to your nonprofit.
While many employers offer them, matching gifts are very underutilized. This is because donors often don’t know if they’re eligible. Understanding how these programs work and what your organization can do to raise awareness of them is the key to unlocking new revenue streams for your mission.
In this article, we’ll walk through seven ways your nonprofit can bring in more donations through matching gifts. Then, we’ll wrap up with a Q&A to answer your frequently asked questions about this form of corporate philanthropy.
|Bring in More Donations with Matching Gifts
|Read the Matching Gift Q&A
7 Ways Your Nonprofit Can Bring in Even More Donations with Matching Gifts
To secure revenue from matching gifts, it’s essential to use multiple strategies. Below, we’ve outlined seven effective ways your nonprofit can bring in more donations!
1. Corporate Employee Matching Gifts
The most common type of matching gift program is corporate employee matching gifts. These programs encourage employees to make donations to organizations like yours.
What are corporate employee matching gifts?
Corporate employee matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy in which employers match the donations that their employees make to nonprofits.
This type of matching gift program can bring in more donations because it’s easy for donors to maximize their gifts without reaching back into their pockets.
So why don’t all eligible donors apply for a matching gift?
Many companies that offer matching gifts promote their programs to employees infrequently. That’s why you need to educate your donors about these programs to make sure they look up their eligibility and submit their match requests. By promoting matching gifts to your donors throughout the donation process, you’ll raise awareness and increase the chances donors will submit a matching gift request.
The takeaway: Not everyone knows about matching gifts. Make the submission process as easy as possible for your donors!
How does a company start a matching gift program?
If your company’s looking to start a matching gift program, congratulations! You’re taking a big step towards improving your community and internal workplace environment. But, you might be unsure how to implement your new program. Here’s the process broken down into four easy steps:
- Establish matching gift parameters, such as the matching ratio, qualifying employees, eligible causes, donation amounts, and the request deadline.
- Research a corporate giving software solution to facilitate the process.
- Launch your program.
- Promote your matching gift program to your employees and troubleshoot any issues.
Of course, the process will vary between companies. For example, some companies might take longer to determine their initial parameters and take sub-steps, such as surveying employees about their giving preferences. Others may have specific features in mind they need their CSR platform to provide like automation tools.
2. Fundraising Event Matching Gifts
You’ve probably planned or taken part in walkathons, 5K races, bikeathons, or other events meant to raise money for a cause. Did you know that the money raised from these fundraisers can actually be matched?
If a participant in an event works for a company that offers a fundraising match program, the money they raise through the event can be matched by their employer.
Many companies offer fundraising match programs, including:
Google will match funds that employees raise for a fundraising event in which they actively participate. This includes walks, marathons, bike rides, and more.
Penguin Random House
Penguin Random House matches up to $1,500 per employee each year for money they raise by participating in fundraising events.
If an Intuit employee participates in a fundraising event, such as a walk, run, bike ride, etc., Intuit will match the money they raise, up to a maximum of $5,000 match per employee per year.
These are just a few of the many companies that offer fundraising event matching gift programs. Talk about these programs with your supporters to make the most of your fundraising events.
The takeaway: Don’t let the funds from your big events go unmatched. Encourage participants to check their matching gift eligibility with their employers!
3. Corporate Volunteer Matches
Not all matching gifts need an initial financial donation. In fact, employees can earn matching gifts by donating their time and effort through volunteering.
That’s right: many companies provide monetary grants to organizations where their employees regularly volunteer. These are also known as volunteer grants or Dollars for Doers programs.
Here’s how corporate volunteer matches work:
- An individual volunteers with a nonprofit.
- The individual records their hours and submits a volunteer grant request to their employer.
- The employer verifies the hours with the nonprofit.
- The employer writes a check to the nonprofit.
Depending on the company’s guidelines, there might be a set amount of volunteer hours employees are required to obtain for the grant. For example, take a look at how these companies organize their volunteer grant programs:
For every hour an Apple employee volunteers with a nonprofit, Apple will donate $25 to the organization. There are no minimum hours required.
Disney requires a minimum of 10 hours from volunteers and will award monetary grants of up to $2,000 to organizations based on the total amount of hours worked. Disney also offers an annual grant of $2,500 to recognize exceptional volunteers.
Bank of America
Bank of America offers two tiers of grants for volunteer hours. The company will give $250 to an organization after their employees log 50 volunteer hours and $500 after 100 volunteer hours.
Your organization can find essentially free funding by looking into corporate volunteer matches. Encourage your volunteers to look up their eligibility for these programs!
The takeaway: You can get double the benefits from your volunteers; you’ll get important tasks completed and monetary grants for the hours they put in!
4. Matching Gift Challenges for Major Donors
If you work for a nonprofit, you already know that major gifts make up a majority of your fundraising revenue. So how does this tie into matching gifts?
Three words: matching gift challenge.
A matching gift challenge occurs when a key supporter of your organization agrees to match donations made by other supporters for a specific campaign. For example, if your donors raise a total of $25,000 during the challenge, the major donor will match with an additional $25,000 for a total of $50,000 raised.
Matching gift challenges allow both your major donors to show their support and encourage others to support you, as well. Work with your major donors to specify the details of the challenge and ensure everyone is satisfied with the arrangement. For instance, most challenges will have a cap for what the major donor will match to help them manage their own finances.
Be sure to promote challenges like these on all of your channels: social media, email, your website/blog, and direct mail. You’ll be amazed at how much money you can raise when all donors need to do is contribute once and your major donor will supply the match!
The takeaway: Giving is contagious. Your major donors can have a huge influence on encouraging others to give to your organization. Consider hosting a matching gift challenge and recruit your top supporters to supply the match.
5. Matching Gifts for Board Members
Did you know that some companies offer additional gifts for employees who serve on nonprofit boards?
If your board members are current (or even retired) employees at a company with this kind of program, they might be eligible for a higher match ratio or increased limit on their matched donations.
American Express Company
American Express offers a standard match ratio of 1:1, but the company matches at 2:1 for employees who serve on a nonprofit board.
If a Wells Fargo employee serves on the board of an eligible nonprofit organization, they can earn a grant of $500 for that organization.
AstraZeneca Canada provides $250 grants to organizations where employees serve as board members.
Consider looking to your board members for additional revenue. You never know! They might be part of a very generous matching gift program through their employers.
The takeaway: Your board members are essential to your organization’s success for many reasons. Make sure they check their eligibility for these additional matching gift benefits!
6. Matching Gift Corporate Partnerships
Similar to major donor matching gift campaigns, companies can also do the same! Reach out to corporations that are likely to support your organization and see if they would be willing to match up to a certain amount during your campaign.
If you’re not sure where to get started, consider asking companies that have contributed in the past and you’ve already built a relationship with.
Matching gift corporate partnerships benefit both organizations and corporations. Companies get to enjoy brand promotion and boost their name in the community, and nonprofits bring in donations that drive their missions forward. Even better? This program will match donations from all of your supporters, not just the ones who work for that particular company.
Once you’ve locked in a corporate partnership, be sure to promote this giving opportunity on all of your outreach channels. Recognize and tag the company in your posts, and share the amount they’re matching up to.
The takeaway: Don’t underestimate the value of your relationships with companies. Both the corporation and your nonprofit can benefit from matching gift corporate partnerships.
7. Matching Gift Software
Matching gift tools are designed to help nonprofits generate greater matching gift revenue.
When your team has the right software on hand to automate and streamline aspects of the matching gifts process, you’re sure to start generating more matching gift revenue for your cause. Some matching gift databases will even show both matching gift information and volunteer grant opportunities.
We’ve reviewed several matching gift databases, but here is our favorite software solution:
Double the Donation: Top Matching Gift Software
Double the Donation is the leading provider of matching gift tools, offering access to a comprehensive company database via an embeddable widget that goes right on your website. Using their software, donors can enter their employer’s name and uncover a host of matching gift information.
This provider regularly updates its library of over 24,000 companies that represent more than 15 million match-eligible donors. This means that nearly all of your donors will be able to make use of a robust and up-to-date matching gifts database.
Double the Donation’s 360MatchPro offers unparalleled matching gift automation tools to:
- Automate matching gift eligibility identification
- Drive matches to completion with tracking tools
- Forecast matching gift revenue using data reporting
Using this automation platform, more match-eligible donors can secure a matching gift. Here’s how it works:
- An individual donates to your nonprofit.
- 360MatchPro’s platform automatically scans the information the donor provides (email addresses, employer information, etc.) to determine their matching gift eligibility.
- Depending on the donor’s eligibility, the platform triggers an email to the donor with the relevant instructions and guidelines needed to submit a matching gift request.
- 360MatchPro then allows your nonprofit to track the status of matching gift requests with follow-up emails and other ways to drive match requests to completion.
Using 360MatchPro comes with many benefits. In addition to securing more matching gift revenue overall, there’s also no need to follow up with every match-eligible donor because the platform does it for you. This leaves your team more time to focus on high-value matching gift opportunities.
Plus, Double the Donation has recently rolled out new matching gift auto-submission technology. This tool enables employees who work for select companies to have their matching gift requests completed for them. Employers just need to turn on the auto-submission feature of their CSR software to opt into this speedy matching gift process, and their employees will be able to complete matching gift requests in seconds.
By investing in 360MatchPro, you’ll always have the tools you need to drive matches to completion!
Matching Gift Q&A
1. How do matching gifts work?
To recap, the matching gifts process is fairly simple and requires little effort on the part of your donors. Here’s how it works:
- A donor completes their donation to your nonprofit organization.
- Eligible donors submit a matching gift request to their company.
- The company reviews the request to ensure it meets its matching gift guidelines.
- The company reaches out to your nonprofit to confirm the donation.
- The company sends a check to your nonprofit to complete the gift match.
That’s it! Because this process requires no action on the part of your donors other than submitting their official matching gift request, it’s incredibly easy to inspire your supporters to engage in this process.
However, your nonprofit has two very important jobs in this process. You need to make sure donors know 1) that they could be eligible to have their gift matched, and 2) how they can search for their eligibility and begin the process.
How can donors find out if they’re eligible for matching gifts?
Provide your online donors with a tool that lets them search for their employer’s matching gift guidelines. You can provide this tool on a dedicated matching gifts page on your website. This will allow offline donors to visit and quickly check their eligibility, too.
What matching gifts guidelines do companies usually have?
Guidelines for corporate philanthropy programs typically consider these aspects of each gift:
- Gift size. Typically, most matching gift companies set a minimum and maximum gift size for donations they’ll match. Often, the maximums are on a per-year basis. So if a donor has a $5,000 annual maximum they can make one donation of $5,000, 10 donations of $500, or any other combination that lets them hit $5,000 before their donations will stop being matched.
- Date of donation. After making their donation, employees have a set amount of time to make their request. This could be a set number of months following the donation, the end of the calendar year, or the end of the calendar year plus a grace period.
- Nonprofit mission. Companies often match gifts to most nonprofits, but some focus on specific areas (like education) or bar giving to certain types of nonprofits (like faith-based causes).
Matching gift software generally includes all of this information, so it’s easier for your nonprofit and donors to keep track of each company’s guidelines!
How much do matching gift companies give to nonprofits?
This depends on the guidelines of each individual company’s matching gifts program. The most common matching gift ratio is 1:1, but some generous companies will match donations at a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio!
According to recent matching gifts statistics, nonprofits receive $2-3 billion through these programs annually. However, it’s estimated that an additional $4-7 billion goes unclaimed every year.
There are a ton of opportunities to tap into the world of corporate philanthropy. You just have to make sure your donors are aware of how they can get involved.
2. Why are matching gifts important?
At first glance, it’s pretty easy to see why nonprofits love matching gifts: essentially, it’s free money for their causes.
However, matching gifts do far more for everyone involved in the giving process than simply providing nonprofits with untapped revenue.
Benefits for Nonprofit Organizations
- Boost year-round fundraising revenue as more people give.
- Build stronger long-term relationships with donors. Just mentioning matching gifts leads to a 71% increase in marketing response rates.
- Incentivize donors to increase their initial gift amounts. A third of donors will give more if they know their gift will be matched.
- Inspire donors to give more frequently.
- Establish new relationships with companies in the community.
Benefits for Donors
- Increase the impact of every donation they make.
- Forge stronger emotional connections with the missions they care about.
Benefits for Corporations
- Provide an easy way to practice corporate social responsibility.
- Strengthen employee engagement with philanthropic programs.
- Build stronger relationships with organizations in the community.
- Improve company reputation by communicating a caring and philanthropic mission.
The following statistics from Double the Donation speak for themselves in terms of the value of matching gifts:
The takeaway: Matching gifts increase your fundraising revenue and encourage more and bigger gifts from donors.
3. Which companies offer matching gift programs?
Companies of all shapes and sizes offer their employees matching gift programs. With the rise of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a major force in the marketplace, businesses are eager to prove that they care about giving back.
We’ve compiled an in-depth look at the top 20 matching gift programs, but here’s the abridged version. These companies offer some of the most generous programs today:
|Soros Fund Management
|Up to 3:1
|The Home Depot
CSR is an important way for companies of all sizes to differentiate themselves, and matching gifts programs are one of the easiest and most structured ways for them to get started.
Based on CSR trends, you can expect to see matching gift programs spring up at even more businesses in the coming years, including small and medium-sized companies. This means more of your supporters will have the potential to increase their donations through matching gifts. You just have to ask them!
4. How do you ask for matching gifts from donors?
Matching gift programs are underutilized because many donors simply don’t know that they’re eligible for them.
To increase your nonprofit’s matching gift revenue, there are two main things you need to do:
- Raise awareness of matching gift programs among your donors.
- Provide easy ways for donors to check their eligibility.
84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered. The benefits of these programs are already clear to donors, so you just need to focus on making sure they’re aware of them in the first place.
So how do you promote matching gifts? Think of ways to incorporate matching gifts into different areas of your nonprofit’s strategy, from your fundraising efforts to your marketing plan.
Let’s take a look at some smart ways to bring matching gifts to the forefront of your nonprofit’s operations:
1. Publish educational content on matching gifts.
Many of your supporters likely haven’t even ever heard of matching gifts before, let alone if their employer offers one. Publish blog posts, infographics, and email newsletters introducing this giving opportunity to your community.
For example, check out this email a nonprofit might send to a donor they identified as match eligible:
This email identifies the donor’s employer and provides them with multiple options for next steps based on their current situation. Donors who haven’t submitted a matching gift request can find their employer’s application criteria, and those who already submitted a request or know they’re not eligible (for instance, an ineligible part-time employee being mistaken for qualifying as a full-time employee) can opt out of alerts.
2. Promote matching gift content through paid advertising.
Paid advertising is one of the most cost-efficient ways to increase visibility for matching gifts and boost revenue. In fact, Nonprofits Source’s online giving statistics page estimates that nonprofits only spend $0.06 for every dollar they raise through digital ads. Considering that return on ad spend is higher for search ads rather than social media ads, we recommend using Google Ads!
With programs like Google Ad Grants for nonprofits, you can leverage paid advertising for free. Through this program, Google provides $10,000 in ad credits per month that nonprofits can spend to get their ads featured at the top of search results pages. Here’s what a promoted ad looks like on Google search results:
To use your grant effectively, conduct keyword research to pinpoint what words and phrases your donors are searching for online. Then, develop ads that target those search queries and drive users to visit your matching gifts or ‘Ways to Give’ pages.
We recommend working with an ad grants manager like Getting Attention to create these campaigns. They’ll help you apply for the program, conduct keyword research, and develop ads that inspire action. In no time, you’ll increase awareness for matching gifts!
3. Send out matching gifts reminder emails.
Once a donor gives to your cause, set up an automated email message that reminds them to submit a matching gift request. Schedule this message to be sent after your thank-you message.
Large nonprofits can benefit from automating this process by investing in a matching gift solution like 360MatchPro. This software sends out messages related to matching gifts, such as eligibility alerts, reminders, and thank-yous, automatically on behalf of your nonprofit. Here’s an example of what one of these reminder emails might look like:
4. Embed a matching gift search tool on your donation form.
Remind donors about matching gifts right when they donate to your cause by embedding a matching gift search tool directly on your giving pages and forms.
Your supporters will be able to search their employer’s name to see if they’re eligible for a matched gift at the height of their engagement. Here’s what a search tool might look like on your website:
If you’re worried about cluttering your donation page with an additional database, the confirmation screen is another great place to embed a matching gift search tool. After the donor gives, they can quickly check to see if that gift is eligible for a match.
5. Create a dedicated matching gifts page on your website.
In addition to embedding a search tool into your donation form, create a new page on your website entirely dedicated to matching gifts. Complete with your embedded search tool, this is an easy way to direct both online and offline donors to check their eligibility in one place.
Often, nonprofits create multi-purpose “ways to give” pages that include information about matching gifts, along with other underused donation methods like planned gifts, stock donations, and direct mail donations. Here’s an example of what one of these pages might look like:
6. Post about matching gift opportunities on social media.
More than likely, those who follow you on social media have given or considered giving to your nonprofit before.
Inform these supporters about how they can make an impact through matching gifts by posting content about this opportunity on social media. Make sure to include a link that supporters can follow to your matching gift page or donation page so that they can check their eligibility.
7. Send letters to your supporters through direct mail to promote matching gifts.
Many nonprofits already send thank-you letters to supporters after they donate. Help your donors make a bigger impact by expanding your direct mail strategy to include matching gifts promotion.
Send letters that describe what matching gifts are and donors’ potential eligibility. Tell them how they can check to see if their employer offers such corporate philanthropy opportunities and even include a QR code so they can access your webpage about matching gifts instantly.
8. Leverage matching gifts during annual fundraising.
It can be tough to get donors to make a second or third contribution to your annual fund campaign. Instead of making the same ask over and over, let donors know about matching gifts and earn the revenue you need by encouraging them to submit a matching gift request.
Be ready to send multiple reminder emails during these campaigns. If you send one within 24 hours of a donation, you could see a 53% open rate! The sooner you send a reminder, the more likely a supporter will submit a request to their employer.
9. Promote matching gifts during year-end giving.
Donors are more likely to give at the end of the year, so make this spike in fundraising count with matching gifts! Market matching gifts to your year-end donors far in advance of the actual end of the year to ensure their matching gifts can be processed by any employer deadlines.
Some employers are conscious of the end-of-year giving rush and have extended deadlines into March and April, while others require all matching gift applications to be submitted before January 1st of the new year. Provide supporters with the information they need to get their requests in on time, no matter their employers’ specific deadline.
Remember, the key to success with matching gifts is raising awareness. As your team focuses on matching gifts fundraising, try to think of how you can incorporate the process into your existing marketing and communications strategies in new ways. If you need more ideas about marketing matching gifts, check out this best practices video from Double the Donation:
5. How do you properly thank donors after receiving a matched donation?
Unless they’re sent through auto-submission, matching gifts require donors to take extra steps to contact their employer and fill out the necessary paperwork. Make sure you acknowledge the time and effort donors have taken to secure more support for your organization.
Mailed letters are a classic way to show your appreciation, but there’s more you can do to express your thanks in a meaningful way. Check out these creative ways to show your appreciation:
- eCards. eCards are an easy, memorable, and low-cost way to show your appreciation for donors. You can even customize your eCards to your cause and the time of year. For example, animal shelters may want to send holiday-themed eCards in December that feature images of animals playing in the snow. Work with an eCard software provider that offers performance tracking and email and social media sharing options so you can determine your eCards’ effectiveness.
- Phone calls. Make your donor appreciation outreach more personal with phone calls. Get in touch with many of your donors at one time by hosting a thank-a-thon where volunteers call supporters who’ve had their donations matched. Write a basic script so volunteers can quickly and professionally thank donors for their contributions and for going the extra mile to get their gifts matched by their employers.
- Video. Video is one of the most engaging ways to convey information and emotion in a digestible manner. Gather your staff or beneficiaries to create a matching gift-specific video that thanks donors for helping your organization increase its donation revenue through gift matches.
- Thank-you gifts. Why not provide your matching gift donors with some gifts of their own? Sending donors a small gift shows that you appreciate the impact they’ve made and can motivate them to give again. Consider sending branded items they can use to show off their support for your nonprofit, including t-shirts, hats, and tote bags.
- Event. To celebrate your donors, host an appreciation event. This event can either be for all your donors or just for those who’ve had their donations matched. Make it a night to remember with a keynote speaker such as a beneficiary or board member who can discuss the impact your organization has made with the help of your donors. Treat your donors to a night of music, food, and fun to thank them for their support.
Matching gifts can double or triple your donation revenue, which allows your organization to help more beneficiaries and carry out its mission. Make sure the donors who make this impact possible feel appreciated for their contributions.
Where can I learn more about matching gifts?
Matching gift fundraising is one of the best ways to boost your fundraising revenue while giving donors the chance to maximize their impact. Now that we’ve reviewed the basics and the top questions nonprofits have about matching gifts, your team is ready to start making this useful fundraising strategy work for your cause!
While we’ve covered the matching gift basics in this guide, there’s always more to learn. Take a look at these matching gift resources to raise even more for your nonprofit:
- The Matching Gift Academy. Want to dive deeper into matching gifts and identify strategies to grow your match revenue? Check out Double the Donation’s Matching Gift Academy for unique insights.
- Top 30+ Matching Gift Companies: Find Your Match. Ready to find the right matching gift software partner? Check out this list of the top ranking matching gift tools for nonprofits.
- Double the Donation’s Matching Gift Database. Want to learn more about matching gift databases? Check out Double the Donation’s matching gift database guide to get started.
- 12 Sample Matching Gift Letter Templates. Looking to encourage your donors to check their matching gift eligibility? These matching gift letters will help you walk donors through the process.