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Understanding Matching Gifts for Nonprofits

Understanding Matching Gifts for Nonprofits

There is a way to raise more money from donors without asking them to give more of their own money. We’re talking about matching gifts for nonprofits, which are a type of corporate giving program that can be one of many strategies to boost all of your fundraising campaigns.

It’s a fundraising method that raises billions of dollars for nonprofits every year. The reason that your donors might not give you this extra money is that there is an unfortunate lack of awareness about these programs.

What is a matching gift?

When employees donate to nonprofits, many companies will match these donations if the nonprofit is registered as an eligible 501(c)(3) or similar charitable organization with the IRS. Not all companies offer charitable giving programs, so employees need to check either with their HR departments or with the help of a matching gift service.

As an example, imagine Cleaver, who works for Texas Instruments:

  1. Cleaver makes a $500 donation to his favorite nonprofit.
  2. The nonprofit thanks Cleaver and kindly asks him to see if he’s eligible to give a matching gift.
  3. Cleaver contacts Texas Instruments’ HR department and discovers that they’ll match his donation at a 1:1 (dollar-for-dollar) ratio.
  4. Cleaver submits a matching gift request through the Texas Instruments online portal.
  5. Texas Instruments approves of Cleaver’s request and writes the designated nonprofit a check for $500.
  6. The nonprofit receives both Cleaver’s $500 gift and the donation from Texas Instruments, doubling a $500 donation into a $1,000 donation.

While a calculator from Texas Instruments can solve calculus problems, matching gifts are much simpler. From fundraising for museums to alumni fundraising campaigns, matching gifts can provide easy, extra money that nonprofits can accrue simply by asking donors to check if their employers offer corporate giving programs.

What are important facts to know about matching gifts?

If you’re going to ask donors for matching gifts, then it’s important to know the lingo of the land:

  • Matching gift ratio – Most companies match/double donations by giving an amount equal to what the employee gave. Other companies might triple (2:1 ratio) or quadruple (3:1 ratio) donations.
  • Minimum matched – Most companies institute minimum donations. The typical minimum is either $25 or $50.
  • Maximum matched – Companies employ maximum amounts so that there’s enough money to go around to all employees who want to provide additional help to the causes they care about. Maximums vary greatly by company and can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
  • Who can apply? – Full-time employees, spouses, board members, part-time employees, and retirees all may be eligible for matching gifts. The specific eligible employees vary by company, and some employees may be able to apply for more matching gifts than others. For example, State Street permits employees to match higher donations depending on their level of employment status with the company. Other companies allow certain employees to apply for 1:1 matches, while permitting higher-level employees to request bigger matches, such as 2:1.
  • How do people submit matching gift requests? – Most employers make it easy for employees by offering online portals through which matching requests may be submitted. Other companies require that requests be submitted to the human resources department using a paper form, and some companies offer the convenience of both options.

Ever shown up to a party and people were using words you couldn’t understand? Now that won’t happen, so long as you’re attending matching gift parties (which, of course, are awesome, and far too rare…).

How can you promote matching gifts?

Knowing that the bakery down the street makes the most delicious cupcakes doesn’t do anything but whet your appetite. In order to satiate your grumbling stomach, you need to actually go to the bakery, buy a cupcake, and eat that dessert like it’s your mouth’s perfect match.

Marketing matching gifts doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Some simple promotional techniques, especially those geared toward the growing presence of online fundraising, can help to spread the word to eligible donors, so they don’t just think about submitting matching requests, but actually do.

How can you promote matching gifts

Whether you’re running a homeless shelter or a  grateful patient program, one of the easiest promotional techniques is implementing matching gift messaging in your email signature. Email signatures can do a surprising amount of work, as you likely send emails to donors, your staff, and prospects.

Donors who are eligible might see the matching gift appeal and finally decide to submit a request. Staff could see the message and decide to incorporate matching gift asks into their own talks with donors. When prospects are made aware of matching gifts, your nonprofit really stands to benefit.

A test revealed that donation appeals featuring matching gifts earned a 37% higher response rate and raised 54% more revenue. The average gift was also 63% higher. Something about knowing that their money can do more encourages donors not only to give but to be a little more generous with their gifts.

The text for an email signature can be as simple as one of the following examples:

  • Are you eligible for a matching gift? Find out now if you can double your donation: [insert URL to a dedicated matching gift page].
  • Did you know that many employers will match employee donations? Find out if you’re eligible for a matching gift: [insert URL to a dedicated matching gift page].
  • Matching gifts help [insert name of nonprofit] to do so much more for the community. Please take a few minutes to see if you’re eligible to double your donation: (insert URL to a dedicated matching gift page].

Email signatures take mere minutes to set up and can help to inform many donors about the possibility of a matching gift. 93% of employers with corporate giving programs allow their staff to choose the nonprofits to which they donate. Make sure that as many matching gift-eligible donors as possible choose your nonprofit by letting them know how the additional funds help your organization.

Matching gift promotion can be done in a variety of ways, most of which are not time intensive or expensive. Think about how your nonprofit promotes other initiatives and how matching gifts could be incorporated into those marketing schemes or promoted with similar efforts.

What companies offer matching gifts?

Many companies offer matching gifts. You want to know who these companies are, because you likely have volunteers who work for these companies, and the additional funds that corporate giving provides can be a big boost for any fundraising campaign. Matching gifts can be incorporated into seasonal and holiday fundraising campaigns, annual campaigns, and are one of the top Giving Tuesday campaign ideas to increase fundraising from some of your devoted supporters.

Companies offer matching gifts for a variety of reasons:

  • Support their employees
  • Support the causes that their employees care about
  • Use the matching gift submission process as a chance to screen nonprofits to ensure that their money is being donated to reputable, reliable organizations
  • Promote the company as philanthropic and dedicated to helping the world

Companies large and small offer matching gift programs. General Electric started the first matching gift program in 1954, Microsoft has the biggest corporate giving program, and Soros Fund Management offers one of the most generous matching gift programs. Nonprofit crowdfunding might be the new kid on the block in fundraising, but matching gifts can still be an effective way to raise more money, even from the people who donate to your crowdfunding campaigns.

The heart of successful fundraising entails a dedication to several important factors, but all successful fundraising results in more money raised to support your cause. Matching gifts are an easy, effective way to boost campaigns through money that companies want to give to nonprofits. You just have to ask for it.

Guest Post provided by DoubletheDonation – Matching Gifts Made Easy!

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Lisa Bennett

About Lisa Bennett

Lisa is the Sales Director at DoJiggy. She joined DoJiggy in 2006 and loves her job. Prior to working with DoJiggy, she worked at several non-profits and managed special event fundraising.

See other posts from Lisa Bennett