This post is provided courtesy of Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation.
Most nonprofits are constantly on the lookout for new ways to raise money for and, as a result, better pursue their charitable mission. One profitable avenue that is continually overlooked, however, is corporate giving—and more specifically, employer matching gifts.
In fact, research shows more than $4 to $7 billion in available matching gift revenue is left on the table each year, despite 26 million individuals being eligible to participate in these workplace giving programs.
If your organization lacks a concrete matching gift fundraising plan (or you’re simply aiming to increase your existing efforts), this is the guide for you! Here, we’ll cover the following topics, providing new insights into effective corporate gift-matching practices:
- The Basics of Matching Gifts
- Why Matching Gifts Matter
- Top Matching Gift Roadblocks
- Matching Gift Fundraising Strategies
Ready to learn more about matching gift fundraising and equip your team with the best tips, tricks, and tools? Let’s dive in with the basics!
The Basics of Matching Gifts
Before you can expect to raise more through corporate matching gift funding, it makes sense to start at the beginning with a solid understanding of these programs. Here’s what you need to know!
What are matching gifts?
Corporate matching gift programs are offered by thousands of companies that agree to financially match the charitable donations their employees make to qualifying nonprofit causes.
The process typically looks like this:
- An individual makes a donation to a nonprofit organization.
- The donor determines that their gift is eligible for a corporate match.
- The donor submits a matching gift request to their employer.
- The employer reviews the request and verifies the initial donation with the nonprofit.
- The employer approves the match request and makes their matching donation.
- The organization receives the bonus matching gift!
Matching gift programs are one of the most common types of corporate giving across the globe. These offerings enable tons of businesses to support the charitable missions their employees care about.
Matching gift program guidelines
Unfortunately, not every donation is eligible for a corporate match—even for those employed by a company with a matching gift program.
In order to qualify for a company match, an employee’s donation must fall within a predetermined set of criteria. This typically includes:
- Donation minimums and maximums
- Eligible types of employee participants
- Eligible types of nonprofit organizations
- Matching gift request deadlines
Additionally, companies choose a set “match ratio” to determine the size of the donation match made to the nonprofit in question. The most common matching gift rate by far is 1:1, although some employers match at a lower (such as .5:1) or higher (2:1 or 3:1) rate.
When employees interested in participating in a matching gift program are provided with said program guidelines, they can quickly determine whether their gift is eligible for a match and the amount they can expect the organization to receive on their behalf.
Why Matching Gifts Matter
As a prime example of a favorite workplace giving program, matching gifts matter to each party involved. This includes:
- Nonprofits receiving funding. The most apparent benefit of matching gifts to nonprofits is the additional corporate revenue collected by fundraising organizations. Beyond the matching company gifts, however, nonprofits also see boosted levels of donor engagement, higher donation response rates, and increased average individual donation sizes.
- Donors requesting corporate matches. Donors love participating in matching gift initiatives because it allows their dollars to be stretched twice as far (or more) for a nonprofit mission they clearly care about. Employee participants also love knowing that their employers are giving to their favorite causes.
- Companies matching employee donations. The companies providing matching gifts to nonprofits benefit in a myriad of ways as well. First, they see increased levels of employee engagement while retaining more of their staff year over year. In addition, consumers are becoming more inclined to support socially responsible businesses, and philanthropy plays a considerable role in that idea. Plus, they can’t forget the tax benefits of charitable giving!
The most direct benefits to your organization will be the additional funding and donor engagement opportunities offered to nonprofit causes. However, keeping advantages to donors and companies in mind can help your team better position the impact of these giving programs as a clear win-win-win situation!
Top Matching Gift Roadblocks
We know billions of matching gift dollars go unclaimed by eligible nonprofit causes each year. But why does this gap exist?
There are two main obstacles facing matching gift fundraising success:
1. Lack of donor awareness
The matching gift research cited above reports that 78% of the 26+ million individuals employed by companies with matching gift programs have no idea whether their employers participate in corporate giving. Unfortunately, that’s because most businesses that do offer these programs fail to communicate the opportunity to their employees.
And when corporate employees have never been made aware of matching gifts in the first place, nonprofits can’t expect high levels of participation among eligible donors.
2. Lack of submission follow-through
Even when donors are aware of matching gift opportunities, many choose not to participate—often fearing that getting involved will be a lengthy and tiresome process. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Most companies ensure their workplace giving initiatives are simple, intuitive, and allow employees to quickly play their part.
So again, the roadblock here concerns a lack of understanding surrounding matching gifts, what they are, and how to partake in these programs.
Matching Gift Fundraising Strategies
If you’re looking to drastically scale up your organization’s matching gift revenue, these four tried-and-true practices can get your team on the right track. Here’s what you need to do!
1. Highlight matching gifts in fundraising asks.
Mentioning matching gift opportunities in your fundraising asks—whether that means email, social media, direct mail, etc.—is one of the most effective ways to get donors interested in matching gifts even before making their donation. In doing so, organizations tend to see increases in donation response rates and average gift sizes.
This can be as simple as, “Looking to donate? Your employer might match any charitable gift you make! Learn more about this opportunity here.”
2. Provide donors with company-specific guidelines and next steps.
For donors interested in company match opportunities but unsure how to get started, providing detailed and employer-specific matching gift guidelines can significantly streamline the process. As a result, you’ll see increased participation due to the ease with which donors can become involved.
Be sure to collect donor employment information early on so that you can ensure donors are aware of their match eligibility. For the greatest results, you can even share direct links to their company’s online match request forms along with any other instructions or next steps.
Here’s an example: “Thanks for your generous donation, Fred! Did you know the Home Depot can turn your $50 gift into $100 for our cause? Request your match here.”
3. Thank donors for participating in matching gifts.
You already know that thanking your donors is essential for building long-term relationships and driving repeat gifts. When it comes to matching gift donors, this need is even greater.
Following up with donors after they submit a match request, and again once you’ve received the corporate match, allows donors to stay in the know surrounding the status of their donation match and feel more connected to your cause.
Consider sending something like this when a donor first indicates they’ve requested a match from their employer: “We see you’ve requested a matching gift from the Home Depot. Thank you for taking this step! Thanks to you, this corporate match will allow us to provide twice as many furry friends with their forever homes.”
4. Automate outreach with software integrations.
Incorporating these practices can seem to require a lot of effort—especially for nonprofits whose fundraising teams are already stretched to the limit. Luckily, innovative solutions have been made available thanks to software that integrates directly into your existing fundraising platform!
When you make use of matching gift software like Double the Donation, you can enlist screening tools to automatically identify match-eligible donors, trigger customizable follow-up outreach, and drive more matches to completion. Not to mention, saving time and effort through automation will ensure no donors fall through the cracks while saving more resources to dedicate to your highest-value match opportunities.
Employer matching gifts can play a significant role in overall nonprofit fundraising—if you let them. When you understand what company gift matches are and why they’re important, along with common obstacles to and strategies for matching gift success, you’ll set your team up for ongoing, favorable outcomes—both in 2022 and long into the future.