How to Include Matching Gifts in Your Fundraising Plan
By Adam Weinger
As a nonprofit organization, the work you do is dependent on the generosity of your supporters. It is important to do everything in your power to engage supporters and maximize the impact of each and every donor. A clear and well-planned fundraising strategy is key to successfully raising the funds you need and retaining more support year over year.
One untapped way to boost your fundraising and bolster your entire strategy? The solution to enhancing your fundraising plan and increasing your fundraising capacity is simple: matching gifts.
When your organization incorporates this form of corporate philanthropy into its fundraising strategies, you will find it much easier to reach your fundraising goals. Plus, you’ll be deepening your relationships with donors along the way.
However, if you are new to matching gifts, you may be unsure about where and how to begin. Incorporating matching gifts into your fundraising plan is simple, just follow these easy steps:
- Understand how matching gift programs work.
- Recognize the benefits of matching gifts.
- Provide donors with matching gift resources.
- Follow up with donors about matching gifts.
Increase your organization’s ability to do good. Follow these 4 simple steps to better understand and include matching gifts in your fundraising strategy. Let’s dive in and get you prepared to revamp your fundraising plan for maximum effectiveness!
1) Understand How Matching Gift Programs Work
Simply put, matching gift programs are a form of corporate philanthropy that allows companies to submit donations to match their employees’ donations to a charitable organization.
Nonprofit fundraising is often fraught with frustrations and complications as your team struggles to reach the community, but matching gift programs can effortlessly extend the reach of your organization.
Matching gifts may be completely unfamiliar to your team or you might even dread including a new component in your fundraising plan. But matching gifts are designed to help your organization raise more money without any extra hassle. Your team doesn’t need to worry about added an extra layer of complication to the donation process. The matching gift process is quite simple:
- Step 1: Initial Submission. A donor makes a donation to your organization.
- Step 2: Determine Eligibility. The donor uses a matching gift database to search for their employer’s matching gift policy, determining whether they are eligible to have their donation matched.
- Step 3: Submit forms. The matching gift search tool informs the donor about the necessary forms required by their employer. The donor submits these forms to their employer ( which can typically be completed online!).
- Step 4: Company donation. The company verifies their employee’s donation with the nonprofit organization and submits a matching donation that doubles, or even triples the initial donation.
Double the Donation offers a more in-depth guide to corporate matching gift programs that you may find helpful if you’re interested in learning more or seeing some real-life examples.
Don’t forget to confirm that your organization is eligible to receive matching gifts as well. Most companies with matching programs will match donations to:
- Educational institutions (universities, K-12 schools, school districts, etc.).
- Arts and cultural organizations (museums, theaters, orchestras, etc.).
- Community organizations (animal shelters, homeless shelters, child welfare, etc.).
- Environmental organizations (conservation efforts, public parks, wildlife preservation, etc.).
- Health and human services (hospitals, substance abuse programs, community health centers, etc.).
Make sure to note that many employers will not match gifts to religious institutions. All restrictions come from the employers themselves and cannot be appealed to. While some companies may have more restrictions, the most common is to religious institutions.
Please note that while donations to places of worship may not be matched, if you are an organization affiliated with a house of worship that provides a service to all community members, regardless of religious beliefs (such as food banks and homeless shelters) you may still be eligible to receive matching gifts.
2) Recognize The Benefits of Matching Gifts
When you are raising money for your nonprofit, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of each and every donation. Including matching gifts in your fundraising plan will set you apart from other nonprofits. You will be intentionally seeking out corporate philanthropy while you are stewarding your normal donors.
Corporate philanthropy is such an underutilized form of charitable giving. With so many nonprofit organizations in existence, it can be difficult for many organizations to garner the attention of a major corporation. However, nearly 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs that eligible organizations can benefit from.
The biggest roadblock is that many donors don’t know about matching gift programs, resulting in billions of dollars in matching gifts going unclaimed each year. Millions of people work for companies with matching gift programs, meaning many of your existing donors are probably eligible and are simply unaware of that fact.
Emphasizing matching gifts at your organization, therefore, could have a potentially great influence over your fundraising capacity. Your organization can raise money easily, with only requiring the donors to do minimal extra work.
Matching gifts have benefits for everyone involved, including:
- The nonprofit. Your organization raises more money for its cause and can create a more tailored outreach program by segmenting donors by matching gift eligibility.
- The donor. The donor gets to know their donation had double the impact at no extra cost to them, meaning the cause they love gets even more support.
- The corporation. Companies can build trust-based relationships with their employees and look good in the eyes of the community when they give to charitable organizations.
When you understand the benefits of matching gifts, you can better organize how you implement them into your overarching strategies. Without this foundation, you will not have the proper knowledge and direction you need to best pursue matching gifts at your organization.
- Provide Donors With Matching Gift Resources
So many matching gift funds go unclaimed every year because of a simple lack of awareness. Raising awareness for matching gifts by providing donors with important matching gift resources should be your organization’s priority if you want to boost your fundraising capacity through corporate philanthropy.
Provide matching gift resources to your donors so that they are never unsure how they can maximize their impact. Your website is a great place to concentrate your matching gift resources because many of your supporters will start there for more information about how they can get involved.
Optimize your website to convey information about matching gifts by:
- Explaining matching gifts. Make sure donors know how valuable their participation in a matching gift program could be for your organization’s cause. Individuals are 2-3 times more likely to donate to a nonprofit when they know their gift will be matched by their employer and they’re often willing to donate more money, as well. You should even provide an example to demonstrate how, when participating in a matching gift program, a donor’s $50 donation could instantly become a $100 donation with minimal extra effort on their part. In your “Ways to Give” page on your site, clearly outline matching gifts among the options. To see this in action, check out the matching gift information on the ASPCA website.
- Embedding matching gift database. Don’t assume your donors are going to want to do extra work to ensure their gift is matched. Make it as easy as possible for donors to have their donation matched. Embedding a matching gift database on your site’s donation page will let donors easily determine their eligibility and provide information on the next steps they need to take. When the database is presented alongside your donation tool, donors won’t need to go out of their way to see if they can have their donation matched.
Donors will appreciate you providing them with the resources they need to maximize the impact of their donations. Donors support your organization because they care about your cause. Make sure they have the opportunity to do as much as they can to further the cause and their own impact!
- Follow Up With Donors About Matching Gifts
Just because a donor doesn’t get their gift matched right away, doesn’t mean you should forget about stewarding them for a matching gift. While sooner is always better, remember that most matching gift programs designate a window of time in which the donor can submit their matching gift forms, sometimes as long as the entire fiscal year.
Make sure you follow up with each and every donor who supports your organization to remind them to check their eligibility for matching gifts and to complete the process.
Send letters (check out some handy follow-up letter templates here) to your donors to ensure they know about matching gifts. Thank them for their support and invite them to continue their support by either giving another gift or checking for their match eligibility.
You can even automate this email response to be sent to every donor upon completion of their donation so your team doesn’t have to manually follow up with all of your donors.
Donors will surely love the idea of continuing their support without having to make another donation. With this follow-up technique, you can easily use matching gifts to turn your normal donors into major gift donors. Don’t underestimate the power of matching gifts when you are creating your fundraising plan!
Matching gifts can enable your organization to tap into the underutilized arena of corporate philanthropy with little to no extra hassle.
Including matching gifts into your fundraising plan requires a thorough knowledge of matching gifts as well as an understanding of what you stand to gain, but promoting them is simple and requires just a little bit of effort from your team! You’ll start seeing a difference in no time!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Adam Weinger is one of the leading experts on corporate giving programs. He’s the President of Double the Donation, a company which helps organizations raise more money from employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs.
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