Matching Gifts: The Most Popular Form of Corporate Giving

 

As the year comes to a close, fundraising is ramping up! Did you know that a third of all annual giving happens in November and December? Here at Fundraising Fox, we believe that organizations need to be ready to make the most of all that revenue.

We all know about special holiday campaigns and #GivingTuesday, but what if you could not only increase the number of donations, but double those donations as well? That is what matching gifts can do for your organization!

In this article, we’re going to explore the following topics in a bit more detail:

  1. The basics of corporate giving
  2. A closer look at matching gifts
  3. How to market matching gifts
  4. Recommended matching gift software

Let’s get to it!

1. The basics of corporate giving

Before we can dive into matching gifts and marketing during seasonal fundraising, let’s start from the beginning with a basic definition of corporate giving.

Corporate Giving: Donations made by a company to a nonprofit organization or educational institution.

Sure, that sounds simple, but there are several different types of corporate giving that are worth exploring. The most popular is matching gifts, which we’re going to talk about in depth a little later, so let’s start with volunteer grants.

The second most popular form of corporate giving, or corporate philanthropy, is volunteer grants. These programs set up a system in which employees’ volunteer hours are rewarded by their employer in the form of a donation to the same nonprofit where the employee volunteered.

Another form of corporate philanthropy is employee grant stipends. These are less common, but certainly worth knowing about. Some companies actually award grants to their employees outright, and then the employee awards the grant to the nonprofit of their choice.

You may have noticed that all of the corporate philanthropy programs we’ve talked about so far are employee-initiated, meaning that the company sets the guidelines and the employees choose to participate. However, there are some corporate philanthropy programs that your organization can actively take advantage of.

For example, community grants are another kind of corporate philanthropy program, but this one puts the organization in the driver’s seat. These grants are very similar to traditional grants, but they are funded by a company rather than a foundation.

There are also volunteer support initiatives. These are like volunteer grants, but they involve specialized services or items. For example, free legal services from a law firm or computers from a tech company.

2. A closer look at matching gifts

Now that we have a firm grasp on what the corporate philanthropy umbrella covers, let’s dive into matching gifts.

Matching gifts: When an employee requests that their employer donate to the same nonprofit the employee has already donated to, the employer’s donation is known as a matching gift.

Matching gift programs are becoming more and more common. In fact, around 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, and many smaller companies are following suit.

Though each company’s guidelines are unique, the elements that shape these programs are always the same. Those elements are:

  • Minimums and maximums: This defines the range of donations that qualify for a matching gift. Donations less than the minimum will not be matched. Donations higher than the maximum will be partially matched up to the amount of the set maximum.
  • Match ratio: The match ratio clarifies how much a company will match in relation to the initial donation. A 1:1 ratio means that the company will donate exactly the same amount as their employee, and this is the most common match ratio.
  • Employee status: Sometimes, the matching gift guidelines change based on an employee’s level of employment. For example, an SVP could be offered a 2:1 match, while a part-time employee is offered 1:1, and a retired employee from the same company could qualify for a .5:1 match. There can also be varying minimums and maximums.
  • Nonprofit eligibility: Some programs specify exactly what type of nonprofit they will support. For example, many airlines focus exclusively on educational organizations.
  • Deadlines: It’s vital that donors be aware of their company’s deadlines for matching gift requests. Unfortunately, there is always a cutoff. Usually these deadlines are scheduled around the end of the year or Tax Day. Another common option is defining a certain period of time after the donation is made, like 90 days.

Although each company defines its own specific guidelines, the process of actually driving matching gifts to completion is pretty standard.

 

  1. Employee makes initial donation
  2. Employee submits matching gift request to employer
  3. Employer confirms eligibility of donor, donation, and the nonprofit
  4. Nonprofit receives the matching gift

 

The most common breakdown, by far, happens at step number two. Unfortunately, a nonprofit can not submit a matching gift request, the employee has to do it. That is why the nonprofits main goal regarding matching gifts should be marketing.

 

3. How to market matching gifts

Did you know that $4-7 billion in matching gift revenue goes unclaimed every year? The key to claiming a piece of that pie is marketing matching gifts.

Because the donors are the ones who actually request the matching gifts from the their employers, the organization’s main responsibility is making sure that donors know what these matching gifts are, whether they are eligible, and how to submit the request to their employers.

The donation form

Mentioning matching gifts during the donation process is so obvious that it is often overlooked, but is is truly invaluable. Consider this: your donor has heard about what you do, has looked through your site, and has clicked on your “DONATE” button. Isn’t this the most engaged your donor could possible be?

Presenting information about increasing the impact of a donation should be done when a donor is committed to helping you. It makes the request for just a bit more of their time much easier to swallow.

We recommend incorporating Double the Donation’s matching gift search tool as a field on the donation form. This alerts the donor that, in some way, their employer might be relevant to this donation.

Plus, your organization can capture that employer information without breaking the flow of the donation. The donor will be presented with their matching gift information on the confirmation page.

Check out this example from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society:

Notice how LLS includes their matching gift search tool immediately underneath the donation amount, drawing the donors attention to matching gifts almost immediately. This is a proven way of driving matching gift requests to completion.

Confirmation page

The confirmation page is another opportunity to talk to your donors while they are still being propelled by what compelled them to donate in the first place. Your organization should see that generous momentum as an opportunity.

If the company field is not on your donation page, you can still embed a matching gift search tool on your confirmation page. This presents your donors with the opportunity to search for their employer.

When they type in their company, they will be presented with all of the company’s matching gift information, as well as links to the matching gift request forms. This allows a donor to follow through on doubling their donation while they are still in support mode.

You can see an example of a confirmation page incorporating matching gifts below.

As you can see, the matching gift search tool is hard to miss. This ensures that donors see the opportunity, which we know is the organization’s main priority.

Dedicated matching gift page

We can’t stress enough the importance of a dedicated matching gifts page. On this page, you can share information about what matching gifts are and encourage your donors to search for their employers to see if they are match-eligible.

Plus, you can link back to this page in all of your communications to ensure that no matching gift opportunities slip through the cracks!

We recommend putting matching gifts front and center by including a link to your designated matching gifts page right in your navigation bar. This way, you can grab the attention of casual visitors to your website and convert them into donors. Better yet, donors who know about matching gifts.

This page is so important because just the idea of matching gifts is proven to positively impact your donations. Did you know that just mentioning matching gifts results in a 71% increase in response rate? Mentioning matching gifts is also proven to increase the average donation amount by 51%.

Emails and newsletters

Thinking a bit bigger than just confirmation emails, your organization can send emails specifically geared toward matching gifts. Emails are such a great way to be proactive and reach out to your donor base, and this is another great channel for spreading information about matching gifts.

Your donors want to hear from you, that’s why they subscribed to your emails in the first place. And they want to support you, even more so when you tell them about matching gifts, so give your people what they want!

Below is a very eye-catching example of a great email campaign from the National Kidney Foundation.

They made this email bright and friendly, which encourages their donors to participate. They are learning, they are clicking, they are doubling their donations.

4. Recommended matching gift software

As you know, we’re big fans of Double the Donation’s matching gift search tools. The reason is simple: they have the most extensive matching gift database out there. It covers more than 20,000 parent companies, subsidiaries, and spelling variations.

By including more than 99% of the matching gift programs out there, Double the Donation helps to make sure that you are aware of every single matching gift opportunity available to your organization.

Double the Donation offers various plans so that organizations can choose the one that works best for them. Each and every one of these options includes Double the Donation’s expansive database. You can see a quick breakdown of the three product offerings below.

Simple solution

This plan is perfect for organizations making between $3,000 and $15,000 in matching gift revenue. With the basic plan, organizations are given a hosted page on Double the Donation’s website where they can direct their donors.

The hosted page is branded to match the organization’s colors and logos. This page houses the Double the Donation matching gift search tool and offers general information about matching gifts. These hosted pages look like this:

 

 

For smaller organizations, this is a great place to start kicking your matching gift revenue into gear.

Embedded search tool

The premium plan is designed to enhance the matching gift revenue of organizations raising between $10,000 and $25,000. With an embedded search tool, donors don’t need to leave the organization’s website to find out if they are match-eligible.

This search tool can be embedded on multiple pages. We recommend, of course, the confirmation page and a dedicated matching gifts page. You can see a mock-up of how the embedded search tool works below.

With Double the Donation’s premium plan, organizations are able to contain a potential donor’s interest in matching gifts to their own website.

360MatchPro

Double the Donation’s most robust tool, 360MatchPro is a matching gifts super-platform designed for organizations raising more than $25,000 in matching gift revenue.

With 360MatchPro, you can add that matching gift search tool right into your donation form. As you know, we highly recommend including this field right in your donation process.

When a donor types in their employer, they will be presented with their matching gift information on the confirmation screen so as not to disrupt the actual donation process. Additionally, that employment information will be captured and automatically flow into 360MatchPro, along with the rest of the donor’s information.

 

From there, 360MatchPro is a fully customizable, automated, matching gift agent for your organization. Using Double the Donation’s database, donors are automatically sorted by their employment information into two groups: match-eligible and ineligible.

Emails are then sent out to these donors with messaging geared toward their eligibility status. Donors working for eligible companies are sent an email encouraging them to submit a matching gift request and then encouraging them to report  to the organization that their request has been made.

 

In addition to all of this information capture and automation, 360MatchPro offers actionable insights into how the organization’s matching gift efforts are going. The 360MatchPro dashboard presents this information as straight figures as well as a visual graph. You can see an example of the 360MatchPro dashboard below.

With 360MatchPro, an organization can have a fully functioning matching gift program without hiring a matching gift agent. The organization can spend their time and efforts on furthering their cause, while matching gifts keep rolling in.


Takeaway: As your organization works to enhance its matching gift efforts, remember that marketing is the key to increasing that revenue. Your donors want to help you, all you have to do is tell them how they can do that!

 


SPECIAL THANKS to Double the Donation for providing expert advice on how to use matching gift programs to increase the fundraising efforts.

 

 

 

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