Corporate matching gifts provide a particularly valuable form of nonprofit funding, yet few organizations actually reach their fullest potential. In fact, matching gift obstacles hindering fundraising performance lead to an estimated $4 to $7 billion going unclaimed each year. For a nonprofit fundraiser, that’s essentially free money down the drain.

Thus, it’s time to bridge the gap between available and secured matching gift revenue by addressing critical issues that may be holding you back. Let’s explore some of the most commonly experienced barriers to matching gift success⁠—and what your team can do to overcome them.

These include:

  1. Lack of donor awareness
  2. Lack of knowledge among fundraising staff
  3. Inability to locate program guidelines
  4. Limited understanding of the request process
  5. Shifting trends and policies
  6. Failure to meet match submission deadlines
  7. Insufficient nonprofit time and resources
  8. Poor visibility into match progression
  9. Unverified match requests

If your team has found difficulty with matching gift fundraising in the past, let this troubleshooting guide serve as a helpful resource to inform your strategy. We’ll walk through each identified roadblock, along with specific and actionable steps you can take to resolve the issue.

In the end, you’ll likely see substantial increases in matching gift revenue just by implementing these recommended practices. As you do so, consider the widespread benefits to your team, your donors, your mission, and beyond.

Now, let’s delve into one of the leading causes of unclaimed matches.

Matching Gift Obstacle #1 – Lack of Donor Awareness

Thousands of businesses⁠—which employ millions of individuals⁠—incorporate matching gifts as a key component of their philanthropic efforts. Unfortunately, research shows over 78% of this group is currently unaware that their employer matches (hint: a significant portion of your donor base likely falls into this category).

The result? Less than 7% of individuals actually submit their match requests. After all, when donors don’t know their employers will double their donations, they also won’t know how to take steps to secure a match. And there goes your organization’s matching gift funding!

How to Overcome It – Market matching gift opportunities through numerous channels.

Make sure each donor is exposed to the idea of matching gift programs⁠—ideally on more than one occasion. With strategic matching gift marketing efforts, you can share helpful information regarding workplace giving availability, ways the programs benefit each party, and how individuals can get involved. Be sure to provide sufficient context regarding the opportunity and share unique insights specific to each donor⁠—such as their company’s program guidelines and links to submission forms.

For the best results, we suggest taking a multichannel approach to promote matching gift opportunities. This should include prominently featured relevant information within your nonprofit’s…

  • Website
  • Email newsletters
  • Social media pages
  • Fundraising appeals
  • Gift acknowledgments
  • Separate follow-up emails
  • And more!

The bottom line is that the more familiar your audience is with the idea of matching gifts, the more inclined they’ll be to get involved should they be eligible to do so.

Consider the following example:

“Dear [donor], we deeply appreciate your ongoing support and commitment to [nonprofit]. Your generosity has played a crucial role in advancing our mission. Did you know that [company] offers a matching gift program through which it doubles donations its employees and retirees contribute to nonprofits like ours? This presents an opportunity to make an even greater impact on our mission. If you’re interested in securing a match on our behalf, click here to access your company’s submission portal and fill out a brief online form.”

Matching Gift Obstacle #2 – Lack of Knowledge Among Fundraising Staff

Just like your donors are often unaware of the matching gift programs their employers offer, your fundraising team may be uninformed (or under-informed) about the opportunity as well. As a result, team members can lack the knowledge and understanding needed to promote and assist supporters with matching gifts effectively.

How to Overcome It – Equip your nonprofit team with the best educational resources.

To address this obstacle, you’ll want to prioritize comprehensive matching gift training for your fundraising staff, volunteers, and other essential team members. Each person should have a deep understanding of matching gift programs, including how they work, their potential impact for donors and your organization as a whole, and the steps involved in the matching gift process.

We recommend incorporating matching gifts into your regular staff trainings as well as new team member onboarding experiences. For some of the best educational resources, take a look at Double the Donation’s website. This matching gift software provider also supplies fundraisers with regularly published blog posts, comprehensive eBooks and other downloadable resources, live and on-demand webinar events, and an online learning system devoted to all things matching gifts. (P.S. All 360MatchPro users can access the Matching Gift Academy for FREE!) 

Matching Gift Obstacle #3 – Inability to Locate Program Guidelines

Even after learning that a donor’s company matches gifts, they still need to locate the appropriate guidelines in order to determine their eligibility. This can be difficult⁠—especially if their employer has not communicated much regarding program details.

In theory, you could simply instruct donors to reach out to their HR department or CSR team. Alternatively, a program policy may be available on the company’s website or in an employee handbook. However, asking your donors to take on the brunt of the research effort may result in abandoned match potential when the individual ultimately opts not to do so.

How to Overcome It – Share company-specific eligibility criteria and materials.

Make identifying match-eligible gifts easy! The less research a donor has to conduct on their own, the better their overall experience is likely to be. That’s why we recommend supplying donors with the information they need to determine their eligibility.

This should include:

  • Acceptable donation methods
  • Minimum donation amounts
  • Maximum donation amounts
  • Qualifying employee types
  • Qualifying nonprofit causes
  • Submission deadlines
  • And any other specifications!

Once a donor retrieves these guidelines, they’ll be able to cross-reference the requirements against their recent transaction to confirm the gift meets their employer’s criteria.

However, tens of thousands of companies match employee gifts. It would be nearly impossible for your organization to keep track of the program guidelines for each one in your network. So, how can you assist donors in the process?

Provide your nonprofit supporters with easy access to an intuitive matching company database. This tool, which can be embedded in your website, donation forms, and more, will allow users to quickly locate their employer’s program information. After selecting the company from an auto-completing list, the search tool will populate with an overview of program guidelines as well as any additional documentation.

From there, the individual will have what they need to move forward with the next step in the process: requesting their match.

Matching Gift Obstacle #4 – Limited Understanding of the Request Process

When informed about both the opportunity and their eligibility, match-eligible donors love participating in their employers’ matching gift programs. But even the most dedicated supporters are not likely to jump through a ton of hoops to secure a match on your behalf.

For example, let’s say a donor is excited by the idea of securing a donation match on your behalf. Once they submit their initial gift, however, they have no idea where or how to initiate the request. Unfortunately, many matching gift companies do not make it a priority to communicate the steps an individual should take to participate.

In that case, the matching gift request process may seem daunting⁠—even if, in reality, it involves just a few quick steps. As a result, it often falls on the nonprofit to help their donors navigate these experiences.

How to Overcome It – Provide direct links to electronic forms and implement auto-submission functionality.

Nowadays, most companies facilitate matching gift submissions online using digital forms⁠—and the most difficult part of the process is locating the right one. Luckily, just as you can leverage a matching gift solution to supply individuals with their company’s guidelines, the right software can also provide direct links to their online forms. That way, all a donor has to do is click a button that brings them to their company’s matching gift portal. From there, they’ll log in, supply information regarding their recent donation, and submit the matching gift request.

To take things a few steps further, however, you can leverage matching gift auto-submission. If your organization implements Double the Donation’s matching gift solution, its groundbreaking auto-submission functionality allows donors from participating companies to complete their matches directly from your gift confirmation screen! This method involves no redirects, separate logins, or repeating transaction details, thus simplifying the request process more than ever before.

Matching Gift Obstacle #5 – Shifting Trends and Policies

The corporate philanthropy and matching gift landscapes are dynamic, which means the exact opportunities are constantly changing. Companies roll out new matching gift initiatives every day, with existing program guidelines being updated with new policies and more. While these changes are overwhelmingly positive ones for the organizations looking to collect funding from the programs, they can make keeping up with shifting trends a bit of a challenge.

And you don’t want to risk putting off a donor by supplying them with outdated information!

How to Overcome It – Use a continuously updated database and regularly collect employment info.

To overcome this obstacle, it’s important to invest in a reliable matching gift database. More specifically, you’ll want to ensure your tool is consistently updated with the latest and most accurate information possible.

According to our in-depth review of the top matching gift database providers, Double the Donation comes out on top in terms of comprehensiveness, accuracy, recency of updates, and more.

Additionally, it’s crucial that your team collects employment information regularly as well. Just because a donor’s employer lacks a matching gift program one year doesn’t mean you should mark them ineligible in the next. Not only is the growing push for social responsibility leading more companies to match employee gifts, but you’ll also want to account for job transitions and other changes that can impact an individual’s eligibility.

Matching Gift Obstacle #6 – Failure to Meet Match Submission Deadlines

Each company that offers a matching gift program is able to determine its own deadline by which employees must submit their match requests in order to secure corporate funding on the organization’s behalf. Although many businesses choose generous deadlines (often coinciding with the end of the calendar or fiscal year in which the gift was made or pertaining to a number of months post-donation), many donors fail to submit their matching gift requests in time.

When donors opt not to submit a matching gift on the spot immediately after giving, many never come back to ultimately complete the match request process. They may not even think of it again until long after the match request window has been closed.

When deadlines pass, a previously match-eligible donation essentially loses its eligibility status. In other words, your organization doesn’t receive the matching funds it could otherwise have produced.

How to Overcome It – Enact regular matching gift follow-ups post-transaction.

Organizations that follow up with match-eligible donors post-donation are more likely to keep their cause⁠—and potential match⁠—at the top of the donor’s mind for longer.

To better understand this point, here are a few key facts to know (based on previously cited studies by Double the Donation):

  • Matching gift reminder emails sent within 24 hours of a donation being made results in a 53% open rate (this is 2-3 times higher than the average nonprofit email open rate).
  • Incorporating more than one matching gift reminder email drastically increases the number of matching gifts submitted. For example, a second matching gift email sent increases the number of matches identified and submitted by the first email by 48%!

Your organization can even drive more matches by leveraging a sense of deadline-related urgency. For example, consider incorporating in your follow-up emails the importance of requesting company matches as soon as possible to avoid missing the matching gift window.

Then, since many companies close their request windows at the end of the calendar year, the holiday giving season is another excellent opportunity to remind donors about unclaimed matches with a renewed sense of urgency.

Matching Gift Obstacle #7 – Insufficient Nonprofit Time and Resources

Matching gifts are essentially a source of free money for a nonprofit fundraiser. Yet, in order to maximize the amount of matching gifts an organization receives, it requires time and effort invested into a strategy.

Someone has to inform supporters about matching gift opportunities to offset the millions of matching gift-eligible individuals who have never heard about these programs. Someone has to follow up with donors and remind them to submit a match request with their employer.

However, many organizations find their teams stretched thin as it is⁠—and 80% of surveyed nonprofits reported difficulty building strong workplace giving strategies with limited staff and resources. So what if nobody within the organization has the time to be the “somebody” that manages matching gifts?

How to Overcome It – Streamline matching gift outreach with automation software.

When you don’t have the time and energy to devote to another fundraising initiative, that’s when you bring in software to do the job for you. In this case, matching gift automation software enables organizations to streamline the fundraising process from start to finish. And it does so using automated communications in place of tedious manual labor.

For example, let’s say your nonprofit utilizes the industry-leading platform, Double the Donation’s 360MatchPro. Each time a donor gives to your nonprofit, they’ll be exposed to matching gift information via an embedded donation page search widget where they’re encouraged to enter their employer’s name. Within hours, the software triggers personalized follow-up emails complete with company-specific program guidelines and online request forms.

The automation solution then records donation and employment data to store alongside donor records. It even tracks donors through the process to drive more matches to completion while reserving time and effort that can be reallocated to other valuable activities!

Doing so can substantially increase the amount and percentage of corporate matches driven to completion, too. In fact, utilizing a matching gift automation tool has been known to DOUBLE or even TRIPLE an organization’s matching gift revenue. So not only will there be less to do on your team’s plate, but there will be more dollars flowing into your organization!

Matching Gift Obstacle #8 – Poor Visibility Into Match Progression

Another challenge faced by nonprofits is the lack of visibility into the progression of matching gifts through the request and disbursement processes. When fundraising staff have difficulty tracking where a matching gift is in the process at a given time, it can lead to potential delays in acknowledgment and recognition, plus limited insights into the amount of forecasted revenue your team should expect.

How to Overcome It – Encourage two-way communication through the matching gift process.

To address this challenge, be sure to establish a clear and open line of communication with donors. From there, encourage individuals to notify your team once they’ve submitted their match requests to their employers. For example, you might ask supporters to give your team a call, send you an email, or fill out an online form. Or, if you’ve invested in a matching gift solution like Double the Donation, it might have a dedicated button ready-built into your email outreach. In that case, all a donor has to do is click the button, and their status update will be reflected in your matching gift dashboard!

This two-way communication not only fosters donor engagement but also provides your staff with valuable information about the status of incoming matches. Plus, it allows your team to implement more timely acknowledgments, too!

Matching Gift Obstacle #9 – Unverified Match Requests

When donors submit their matching gifts, many companies require the receiving organization to confirm the initial donation by the employee. This process is generally facilitated through a CSR platform⁠ (such as YourCause, Benevity, CyberGrants, and more⁠) and involves the organization logging in to review and verify the request. However, if your organization doesn’t complete its end of the process, the match is likely to end up unclaimed⁠—despite the donor completing theirs.

How to Overcome It – Establish a plan for managing your cause’s CSR platform use.

First, you’ll want to designate a responsible team member within your organization to manage your accounts on various CSR platforms and take charge of donation verifications. And if you haven’t already, now is the time to ensure your nonprofit has been registered for the primary corporate giving portals.

Once registered, draft a plan for managing your use of the platforms long-term. For example, how will you securely manage your login credentials? How often should your designated matching gift coordinator locate and approve pending matches? You’ll want to establish clear guidelines for verifying and approving match requests within these portals to ensure all eligible matching gifts are ultimately processed and paid out.

This guide from Double the Donation provides helpful insights and best practices for each site, too⁠!

Final Thoughts + Additional Matching Gift Resources

With the right tools and strategies, any organization has the ability to drastically increase its matching gift fundraising efforts. For your team, now’s the time to establish a plan and begin making the most of this underutilized revenue source.

Start by taking a proactive approach to conquering common matching gift obstacles like these. In the end, you’ll see more corporate and individual donor dollars flowing toward your cause. Not to mention, your core audience will reap the benefits of a well-funded program.

Good luck!

Ready to learn more about matching gifts, corporate giving, and other recommended fundraising strategies? Check out these additional resources to continue growing your knowledge:

  • Understanding the Matching Gift Disbursement Process. The more familiar you are with matching gifts, the more optimal the experience will be for all parties involved. Find out what goes on behind the scenes in this detailed look at the match distribution process!
  • Sourcing & Maximizing Corporate Sponsorships For Your Cause. Corporate sponsorships offer massive benefits to the organizations and businesses that participate. Read up on the ideas behind these partnerships and learn how to source partners and maximize funding for your cause.
  • Corporate Giving Statistics for Nonprofits & Companies. Corporate giving can make a huge impact on nonprofits like yours. Get a better look at the philanthropic landscape with these helpful insights! If you’re still not convinced about the power of corporate philanthropy, this research will get you there.

Overcome common matching gift obstacles with Double the Donation.