How to Increase Fundraising with Matching Gifts

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It’s a shame when two of your friends get you the same birthday present. Like, hello, what does a grown person need with two Hot Wheels racing sets? You want different gifts from everyone or at least receipts so you can get what you want.

While matching gifts might ruin your birthday, they’re exactly what your nonprofit wants. Gifts to nonprofits usually come in monetary form, which is why it’s never bad to receive two of the same gift. However, depending on the nonprofit, if a person donates two Hot Wheels sets then the donor might disappoint a few folks.

What is a Matching Gift?

Many companies offer corporate giving programs through which they match employee donations to eligible nonprofits. Matching gifts can double, triple, and even quadruple certain donations, which can exponentially aid fundraising campaigns.

For example, Kiko works full-time for eBay. He donates $1,000 to an eligible nonprofit and submits a matching gift request. eBay approves the request and, since the company matches employee donations 1:1, writes a $1,000 check to the same nonprofit, thus doubling Kiko’s donation. The nonprofit receives $2,000 from one donation, and Kiko donates $2,000 while only giving $1,000 out of his own pocket.

Matching gifts enable companies to help more, allow employees to give more, and let nonprofits do more thanks to the increased donations.

Who Offers Matching Gifts?

65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, as do many smaller businesses. Corporate giving is a way for companies to support their employees’ passions, give back to their communities, and positively promote their brands.

A couple top matching gift contributors include Microsoft and General Electric, who annually donate $48 million and $37 million, respectively. GE started the matching gift phenomenon with a program to support employee philanthropy in 1954.

Why Should Nonprofits Focus on Matching Gifts?

It’s free money. Of course, every donation is free money, but this is free money on top of your other free money. Double free money!

Nonprofits need every dollar they can get. Instead of asking for new donations, fundraising with matching gifts allow you to ask current donors to give more without giving any more of their own money. Most companies with matching gift programs offer online portals for employees to submit gift requests, so it’s a quick, painless process for your donors that brings huge benefits to your nonprofit.

Nonprofits need to answer a few important questions in order to capitalize on matching gifts:

  1. Where do your donors and their spouses work?
  2. Are your donors aware of corporate giving programs?
  3. Do your donors know how to submit matching gift requests?

As the matching gift recipient, it’s your job to educate donors about matching gifts. When you answer the above questions, you know who to reach out to and with what information, so you’re more efficient with your time and resources.

How Can You Promote Matching Gifts?

Don’t run a TV ad or deliver emotionally powered speeches across the country. Marketing matching gifts should both be inexpensive and require minimal energy.

One of the easiest ways to promote matching gifts and corporate philanthropy is in the occasional social media post. If you use a social media scheduling tool then plan a few posts about matching gifts. These days, most donors are engaged in social media, so you can alert many of your donors about matching gifts without leaving your chair.

Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social networks, and with millions of people on both sites, and thousands of nonprofits, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. However, don’t post just to post. Social media is a way to build relationships and share important news about your nonprofit.

Direct fundraising won’t work if you do it all the time, but the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation provides an example of a great tweet:

The tweet is a short, no nonsense call to action for matching gifts. The link takes donors to a dedicated matching gift page, which is a place where donors can learn more about matching gifts and how to request them.

When you’re not sharing direct fundraising posts, a best practice is to tell stories. Let donors know who you are, what you do, and the positive impact that you deliver thanks to matching gifts. People respond to stories, and if you can build an emotional connection then you stand a better chance of convincing donors to take the time to submit matching gift requests.

Other ways nonprofits promote matching gifts include:

  • Email and print newsletters
  • Banners on your website
  • Link on your ways to give page
  • Email signatures

It’s unfortunate that many companies don’t do a good job of promoting corporate giving, but, with a little bit of effort, your nonprofit can make eligible donors aware and increase fundraising from this type of corporate giving.

View additional examples of nonprofits promoting matching gifts.

Who are the best matching gift prospects?

The best matching gift prospect is anyone who has made a donation to your nonprofit and works for an eligible company, as you want matching gifts from donors of all giving amounts.

The better question is how do you find these matching gift prospects so that you don’t waste valuable time and resources promoting to all the wrong donors.

Of course you want to promote matching gifts across your entire fundraising efforts but if your organization engages in prospect research then it’s a prime opportunity to take your matching gift efforts a step further.

Prospect research unearths a wealth of information valuable in your matching gift pursuits, such as where donors or prospective donors work, so make sure to use this information when evaluating what the ask should be. There are a number of ways to conduct prospect research, such as through a consultant, with a company, or on your own. How you go about your prospect research is a matter of budget and how many donors you wish to screen, but the matter of pursuing matching gifts with more focus is beneficial in maximizing your matching gift revenue.

When your fundraising campaign needs a boost, matching gifts are a great source of additional revenue. They’re easy gifts from donors who have already given, and they’re simple to promote, so incorporate matching gifts into your next fundraising appeal and start raising more money to pursue your mission.

About author

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Adam Weinger

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, a company focused on helping nonprofits increase the amount of money they raise from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.