Understanding Matching Gifts: Top 4 Insights for Nonprofits
These days, nonprofits need all the revenue they can get. Luckily, corporate philanthropy is at an all-time high, and companies big and small are looking to leave their marks on causes they care about. What’s the top way they accomplish this you ask? Matching gifts, of course!
Matching gifts have the power to transform your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. They can effectively double (sometimes even triple!) the donations you’re already receiving. When donors know that their impact can potentially multiply without having to reach back into their pockets, they’re much more likely to express their philanthropic desires.
Even with the tremendous potential that matching gifts represent, many nonprofits overlook them in their fundraising strategies. Either they simply don’t understand the process, or worse, they don’t even know the opportunity exists.
To guide you through the process, we’ve compiled a number of industry best practices to maximize matching gifts across your organization.
1) Educate your staff and donors on matching gifts.
To fulfill your matching gift potential, you must start internally. First and foremost, it’s imperative that your leadership and staff understand them in full. Then, they can effectively advocate for matching gifts, relay information, and answer any questions donors and prospects may have.
Simply put, corporate philanthropy refers to the social and philanthropic initiatives that companies launch. It’s a way for businesses to give back to their communities and make an impact on worthy causes. Most commonly, they accomplish this through sponsorships, partnerships, grants, and employee giving programs.
For nonprofits of all sizes, employee giving programs are the most accessible form of corporate philanthropy. Companies create these programs as a way to generate positive PR and to encourage employees to become more well-rounded individuals. While corporate giving programs encompass a range of programs, matching gifts represent your biggest opportunity for growth.
Matching gifts are a specific type of corporate giving program in which a company matches its employees’ donations to eligible 501(c)(3) organizations. Acquiring these funds is a fairly straightforward process. Simplified with dedicated matching gift tools, here’s how the process typically looks:
Step 1: A donor makes a gift to your nonprofit.
Step 2: They check their eligibility for their employer’s program.
Step 3: If eligible, they submit a request for a match to their employer.
Step 4: The company reviews the request and confirms the gift with your nonprofit.
Step 5: The employer sends the match to your organization.
It’s as simple as that! While the process is fairly straightforward, each company sets its own stipulations around its matching gift policy, making it a bit more complicated. Let’s take a look at requirements commonly covered in companies’ guidelines:
– Match ratio: This is the rate at which donations are matched. Most of these are at a 1:1 rate, meaning the initial donation will be doubled. Some employers match at a lower rate, while others will go as high as 5:1!
-Match amounts: Companies set minimum and maximum donation thresholds for the gifts they’ll match. The average minimum amount is around $25 while maximum amounts often range between $10,000 and $25,000.
-Employee eligibility: This indicates which employees are eligible to participate in the program. Usually, these are based on position or status with the company (i.e., part-time, full-time, or retired).
-Nonprofit eligibility: More often than not, companies place restrictions on which organizations are eligible to receive funding as well. This enables them to contribute to the cause that they care the most about.
Knowing the ins-and-outs of these impactful programs enables your nonprofit to make the most of your revenue and engagement opportunities.
2) Promote matching gifts across all communications.
Now that you know the matching gift basics, it’s time to spread the word. To do this, incorporate appeals across all of your communications. Studies have found that employing multiple approaches to identifying match-eligible donors results in 77% more identified match-eligible donations, according to this corporate giving statistics page. In other words, the more communication channels you use, the more visibility matching gifts will receive.
Let’s discuss how you can tie matching gifts into your current communications:
-A dedicated matching gift page. Your website is a great way to kick off the conversation about matching gifts. Create a well-designed matching gifts page that features information on what matching gifts are, how they launch your organization’s efforts forward, and what the typical steps in the process are. Embedding a search tool for donors to easily check their eligibility is a smart move for this page, too.
-Email newsletters. You’re likely sending newsletters on a regular basis, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly. This is a great opportunity to promote matching gifts! Consider sending an email about the opportunity, crafting a small section about it, or even dedicating an entire newsletter to it. In any case, make sure to explain what matching gifts are and how supporters can participate. As you start crafting your emails, use these effective matching gift letter templates by Fundraising Letters to guide your efforts.
– Direct mail. While most supporters prefer online communications, nothing replaces the authenticity of direct mail. Anytime you send tangible communications, include a paper insert highlighting matching gifts. Ensure it’s eye-catching, straightforward, and persuasive.
-Educational resources. Producing in-depth content on matching gifts is a great way to generate long-term value for your organization. Provide supporters with all the resources they need, so they fully understand the value of matching gifts. For instance, create compelling blog posts about the process and tell emotional stories about how matching gifts have impacted your mission.
To promote matching gifts to the fullest extent, you need to develop a dedicated strategy in your communications plan. The above suggestions are just a handful of the many ways you can promote matching gifts. Whether you encourage word-of-mouth marketing or rely on social media to get the job done, get creative in your approach and market them whenever possible.
When you let donors know their potential impact through matching gifts, they’ll be much more likely to do everything they can to grow their impact – especially since it comes at no extra cost to them.
3) Tie matching gifts into your special events.
It may come as a surprise, but many companies that offer matching gifts will also match in-person donations made at special events. Whether you’re hosting a gala or a 5K, matching gifts are one major way you can energize supporters and maximize their engagement at your fundraising events.
You could potentially double the revenue you’re earning at your event with a few simple steps:
-Add matching gift information to your ticketing form. One of the first places supporters will encounter your event is your registration form. Make sure registrants know about their opportunities right off the bat by including a short paragraph on your ticketing form. Keep it short and simple—just enough to pique their interest but not so much that it intimidates them. Then, invite them to research their eligibility by linking to your matching gift database.
-Include matching gifts on event promotion materials. After registrants sign up for your event, they’ll feel compelled to share their excitement with their friends. Make sure to include information on your marketing materials that will capture attention. This could include eye-catching images, statistics, and major employers in your area that offer match programs.
-Encourage participation in corporate philanthropy at your event. Since you’ll have everyone’s attention, this is the perfect opportunity to make an announcement about matching gifts. At the very minimum, hand out an informational flyer, but also consider hosting a live demo on the event’s big screen. If any of your sponsors are in attendance, ask a representative to speak about their own matching gift program and answer any questions donors may have.
Once any major event wraps up, remember to highlight matching gifts in your follow-up emails as well. Lack of awareness is a major obstacle to overcome. By simply making a short announcement about matching gifts at your events, you can potentially grow your revenue with ease!
4) Streamline the process with dedicated technology.
Handling matching gifts manually slows down the process and leaves room for human error. Instead, your team should invest in dedicated matching gift software.
As matching gift programs have expanded, some software providers in the nonprofit fundraising space have developed dedicated matching gift technology. In order to properly leverage matching gifts, you’ll need to invest in technology to pinpoint all opportunities. By leveraging a database, your team will efficiently accomplish the following:
-Locate and engage with match-eligible donors.
-Keep up with where they are in the match process.
-Quickly access companies’ guidelines and requirements.
Think of it this way: why wouldn’t your donors want to increase their donations without reaching back into their own pockets?
By outsourcing time-consuming work to a dedicated platform, your team will increase matching gift knowledge, streamline the identification and submission process, and overall grow revenue. Plus, your donors will feel much more crucial to your cause by increasing their impact.
As you start to incorporate matching gifts into your day-to-day strategies, keep these industry best practices in mind. From marketing to event planning, make sure your team is leveraging matching gifts every step of the way.
It’s time to claim your portion of the $4-7 billion that goes unclaimed in matching gifts per year. Now that you’re well-versed in matching gifts, start prioritizing them and rallying up support. You’ll grow revenue and boost donor engagement in no time!
Guest blog: Adam Weinger from Double the Donation