Matching gifts are the best kept secret in fundraising.
What’s odd is that no one is going out of their way to keep the secret about matching gift donations, yet donors have no idea that they could be eligible to double their donations to their favorite nonprofits.
So what exactly are these matching gifts?
Simply put, matching gifts are donations made by a company to the same nonprofit that an employee of said company already donated to. These programs are often offered as an employee benefit, but those employees don’t know about it, or they don’t realize that they are eligible.
That is why it is so important for organizations to shout about matching gifts from the rooftops! The first thing you can do is provide your donors with a way of finding out their match-eligibility status. Double the Donation offers plenty of tools and resources to help inform your donors (and your staff) about these programs.
How do matching gift programs work?
Each company outlines its own specific guidelines for which gifts are eligible to be matched. They always specify the following aspects:
- Minimums and maximums: A donation will only be matched if it is above the set minimum, and it will only be matched up to the set maximum. If the maximum is $500 and a donor gives $1,000, the organization will still end up with $1,500!
- Match ratio: This refers to the amount a company will donate in relation to the original donation. A 1:1 match ratio is most common, and it means that a company will donate the exact same amount as their employee. A 2:1 match means that the company will actually donate twice as much as the employee did.
- Employee status: Sometimes the match ratio will change based on the employee’s level of employment. Perhaps a part-time employee qualifies for a 1:1 match, while a full-time employee qualifies for a 2:1 match. Or perhaps the match ratio goes up as you climb the ranks from associate to CEO.
- Organization’s eligibility: Some companies specify certain goals for their corporate philanthropy. For example, they might only match gifts to educational institutions.
- Deadlines: Every program sets a deadline for when the matching gift request needs to be submitted in order to qualify for a matching gift.
Though each company lays out its own guidelines for exactly which gifts will be matched, the process for requesting a matching gift is actually quite standard.
- Donor makes initial donation: This sets the process in motion. Without an initial gift, there can be no match.
- Donor submits matching gift request to employer: It is the donor’s responsibility to request that their employer match the gift made in the initial donation.
- Employer confirms eligibility: The employer must confirm that the donation, the donor, and the nonprofit receiving the funds are all eligible for matching gifts under the company guidelines.
- Nonprofit receives a check from the company: It’s that simple!
The most common breakdown in the process, by far, happens at step #2. A nonprofit organization or educational institution can’t submit the matching gift request on behalf of the donor; the donor has to do it.
It should become a top priority for organizations to make sure that their donors know about matching gifts, are able to check their match-eligibility, and are encouraged to take the few minutes required to submit a matching gift request. But how can you present all of this matching gift information? It’s actually pretty easy!
Marketing Matching Gifts
All you have to do is get the word out to your donors about matching gifts. We have a few proven suggestions as to how to effectively get this information out and start raking in that matching gift revenue.
- Donation form: If you include a matching gift field right on your organization’s donation form, you can get your donors to think about matching gift possibilities while they are actively involved in supporting your organization.
- Confirmation page: The same reasoning applies here. When your donor is on the confirmation page after making a donation, we know that they are in the mood to support your organization. Use this page to offer information about matching gifts and provide a matching gifts search tool. Your donors will learn what matching gifts are and be encouraged to check their own eligibility.
- Dedicated matching gift page: This is another place where your organization can detail what matching gifts are and provide donors the opportunity to check their eligibility. However, this page can also be used as a resource that you link to in your emails, newsletters, and even in your email signature. The goal is making sure to present the information to every donor you possibly can.
- Social media: Of course, it never hurts to share on social media to reach a wider audience. You can post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn about matching gifts. Link to your dedicated matching gift page or a hosted page housing a matching gift search tool. This is particularly easy if you subscribe to one of Double the Donation’s various plans.
It’s important to note that you do not have to choose just one of the above suggestions. You can use them all! Additionally, marketing matching gifts is not limited to the options above. You can incorporate matching gift information any time, anywhere.
Now that you know what matching gifts are, how they work, and how to make the most of every matching gift opportunity, you can take this information back to your organization and start boosting that revenue!