Kick off your matching gift strategy: 5 tips to get started

Did you know that over $4 to $7 billion in available corporate matching gift revenue goes unclaimed by nonprofit donors each year? Or that, despite 26 million individuals working for companies that offer these programs, more than 20.2 million of them (or 78%) have no idea that their employers will match their charitable gifts?

That’s according to matching gift fundraising research by Double the Donation. In order to aid organizations like yours with combatting this widespread knowledge (and by extension, participation) gap, we’ve put together this quick guide.

Here, we’ll share the following five best practices for kicking off an effective matching gift strategy and developing your efforts along the way:

  1. Ensure your team is well-educated on matching gifts.
  2. Begin informing and promoting matching gifts to supporters.
  3. Incorporate matching gifts in the online donation process.
  4. Follow up with match-eligible donors post-donation.
  5. Collect matching gift data and analyze trends over time.

Ready to get started with corporate matching gifts? Let’s begin.

1. Ensure your team is well-educated on matching gifts.

It will be difficult at best to drive matching gifts among donors if the team promoting these opportunities remains undereducated on the subject at hand. Before you jump into nonprofit supporter education, we recommend starting with your organization’s workforce behind the scenes.

To begin, here are some key topics to keep in mind. Your fundraising team (whether staff members, volunteers, or a combination of each) should be familiar with:

  • Common matching gift program guidelines: This includes donation minimums and maximums, donation match ratios, types of qualifying nonprofit causes, eligible categories of corporate employees, submission deadlines, and more.
  • How to determine donation eligibility: Many companies have their matching gift guidelines available online, while others might place their participation criteria within an internal server, employee benefits paperwork, or a policy handbook. If you’re having a hard time locating a specific corporation’s eligibility criteria, encourage employees to reach out to their company’s human resources department!
  • Top companies with generous giving programs: Thousands of companies offer employee giving programs, but some of these initiatives are particularly generous. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the names of these companies and keep an eye out for any donors who work for these businesses. For your convenience, lists of top companies (such as this one by 360MatchPro) can be found online.

The more your nonprofit’s internal team knows about matching gifts, the more equipped they’ll be to spread the word about these programs to eligible donors. So if you’re kicking off a matching gift strategy for the first time, we recommend starting from the top. Consider hosting a team-wide training session, sharing informative online resources, and including matching gift information in fundraiser onboarding materials in the future.

2. Begin informing and promoting matching gifts to supporters.

Now that your internal team is well-educated about matching gifts, it’s time to turn the focus to your nonprofit’s supporters. Since so many of them are likely eligible to participate in their employers’ matching gift programs yet remain unaware of the opportunities, this is one of the most critical steps in the process for scaling up your matching gift efforts.

Here are a few of the most common and impactful ways to market matching gifts to your supporters:

  • Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Digital newsletters
  • Fundraising appeals
  • Nonprofit website (Incorporating matching gifts in the online donation process)

Ensuring your donors are familiar with matching gifts, their benefits, and how to get involved is one of the best ways to drive high levels of participation in these programs. The more touch points used to promote these opportunities to donors, the more likely they are to request a match for their donation when the time arises.

3. Incorporate matching gifts in the online donation process.

If you’re looking to inform donors about matching gift opportunities and drive more matches to completion, you’ll likely want to integrate your matching gifts and online donation processes.

Here’s how online donor experiences typically work to highlight and encourage matching gifts:

  1. A donor completes their gift online.
  2. During the donation process, the donor is met with an embedded matching gift search tool.
  3. The donor is prompted to enter their employer’s name in the search box.
  4. The donor selects their company from the auto-filled suggestions.
  5. The matching gift tool populates with company guidelines and submission forms pulled from a matching gift database.
  6. The donor is encouraged to take the next steps and request a company match.

Since donors are often at their highest level of engagement while actively giving to a cause that they care about, this is one of the greatest opportunities to motivate individuals to take their support a few steps further with matching gifts.

4. Follow up with match-eligible donors post-donation.

Sending matching gift follow-up messages once a donor gives can provide your team with an additional opportunity to inform recipients about matching gifts and encourage participation. We recommend sending your communications within 24–48 hours after the individual makes their donation for the greatest results.

Consider these best practices to follow as you draft your post-transaction emails:

  • Thank the donor substantially for their initial donation.
  • Provide the donor with employer-specific program insights (if you know their employer) or access to a company search tool (if you don’t know their employer).
  • Highlight the increased impact that matching gifts have on your mission.
  • Ask the donor to update you when they’ve requested a match from their company (or note that their gift is ineligible for a match).

If that seems like a lot of donor follow-ups to handle on your own, that’s where matching gift automation comes in! With the right software, you can easily trigger customizable donor emails to be sent at the right time to motivate donors to take action.

With automation, you can ensure no opportunities slip through the cracks and save more of your team’s time to devote to your highest-value potential matches.

5. Collect matching gift data and analyze trends over time.

Matching gifts can have a significant impact on any organization’s overall fundraising success. Still, it can be difficult to measure exactly what has been done without effective data collecting, tracking, and analysis efforts.

While there are a ton of matching gift metrics you can and should track, here are a few of our favorites:

  • Percentage of donations flagged as match-eligible
  • Percentage of potential matches completed
  • Total identified match-eligible revenue
  • Number of matching gifts submitted
  • Number of matching gifts received
  • Percentage increase due to matching gifts

And again, if this appears to be a lot of data analysis to manage, your matching gift software can help here as well. For example, Double the Donation’s 360MatchPro platform allows organizations to view the above data points⁠ — as well as a ton more⁠ — to help measure your successes and locate areas with room for improvement.

Matching gifts are sometimes viewed as a “buy one, get one free” sale on charitable donations. If your organization is lacking an effective strategy for collecting these bonus gifts, you’re likely leaving a lot of available funding on the table⁠ — and not doing as much for your mission and vision as you potentially could be.

Luckily, when you incorporate the above tips and ideas into your overall fundraising plan, you’ll be sure to reap the benefits of increased revenue, boosted donor engagement, new corporate partnership opportunities, and more.

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