Matching gifts are the corporate world’s biggest offering to nonprofits. According to Double the Donation, while billions of dollars in matching gifts are donated by employers each year, more eligible gifts go unsubmitted by donors. The majority of those donors don’t get their gifts matched simply because they aren’t aware of their employer’s program.  

Fortunately, nonprofits have the influence to facilitate matching gifts and get a piece of that enormous pie. Creating a holistic fundraising strategy that leverages marketing, technology, and corporate partnerships is the key to success. Leverage these top tips to boost matching gift revenue for years to come. 

1. Understand the essentials of matching gifts.

One of the biggest roles nonprofit teams play in promoting matching gifts is being an educational resource for donors. So, advocates need a solid foundation of matching gift knowledge to accurately spread the word to donors. Here are some fundamental questions about matching gift programs that fundraisers should know how to answer:

  • What are matching gifts? Essentially, matching gifts are a corporate philanthropy initiative that empowers donors to get their charitable gifts matched by their employer. 
  • How do donors submit matching gifts? Every company has different policies, but generally, donors will submit a matching gift request form to their employer with the donation receipt attached. Then, once the company has verified that the gift matches their eligibility criteria, they’ll send their matched gift to the nonprofit.
  • How can donors check if their employer offers matching gifts? This information should be in each company’s employee handbook. Nonprofits can learn more about program information from an online database of matching gift companies. Also, some matching gift tools have an integrated database.
  • What are matching gift eligibility criteria? Again, this depends on the company, but usually, matching gifts are deemed eligible based on value, type of nonprofit, employee status, and timeframe submitted.  

Though these are the most important elements of matching gift programs, there’s much more to learn as the matching gift landscape evolves. Stay updated on matching gift trends and keep an eye out for companies that change their policies.

2. Integrate a matching gift tool into your giving page. 

With online giving showing no signs of slowing down, nonprofits need to embrace technology to thrive in the new normal. Fortunately, there are numerous matching gift tools available that streamline the giving journey for donors, nonprofits, and employers. When choosing a tool, look for donation software solutions that offer:

  • The ability to auto-submit matching gift requests to employers
  • Integration with giving pages
  • Scalability
  • An updated database of corporate giving program information
  • Customizable brand elements
  • A comprehensive support team and training resources 
  • Accessibility on mobile devices

These tools can make the difference between a matching gift being submitted or abandoned by a donor.

3. Run a Matching Gift Day campaign.

Matching gifts are so powerful for nonprofits because they can supplement any fundraising campaign and be the backbone of standalone giving initiatives. The Giving Day format especially aligns with matching gifts, and it’s easy for nonprofits to run. Here are some tips for organizing a successful Matching Gift Day campaign:

  • Stress urgency in calls to action. Giving Days stand out because they appeal to donors’ sense of urgency, and Matching Gift Days are no different. In fact, 84% of donors are more likely to donate if a match is offered, so pairing this with a limited time window can inspire supporters to give immediately.
  • Work with a corporate partner. While matching gift campaigns are usually aimed at donors who have an employer who matches gifts, nonprofits can even engage supporters who don’t by collaborating with a corporate donor. The partner will pledge to match all gifts in a certain timespan or up to a certain threshold, no matter where the donor is employed. Plus, the donor won’t need to worry about submitting matching gift requests.
  • Segment promotional communications. NXUnite recommends automating promotional communications about matching gifts so the most likely donors are prompted to give. For example, you might send a special matching gift fundraising message to a donor you know has a matching gift employer, or to a donor who has just made a gift and didn’t submit a match.
  • Offer exclusive perks for matching gift donors. If donors don’t respond to the former tactics, this will definitely catch their attention. Nonprofits can offer gifts and rewards like branded merchandise or gift cards to show appreciation to donors who went through the effort of submitting a matching gift. Just ensure that gifts are cost-effective and aligned with budgetary considerations so the most money possible goes towards your mission.

Though your Giving Day is much shorter than other fundraising campaigns, it requires just as much thought and planning as other initiatives. Nonprofits should determine relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) ahead of time, such as average donation amount, total funds raised, donor participation rate, and matching gift donor acquisition and retention. 

4. Demonstrate the impact of matching gifts.

For nonprofits, highlighting the impact of fundraised dollars is the key to securing new donors and scaling up their mission-oriented initiatives. Matching gifts are no different. Nonprofits can emphasize the power of matching gift donations by:

  • Dedicating a portion of the annual report to them. A nonprofit’s annual report plays many important roles. Not only does it provide financial transparency, but it also shows the organization’s growth and can inspire donors to renew their support. Dedicate a page or even an entire section to matching gift revenue in your report. Remember to discuss exactly what the revenue allowed the organization to achieve, such as providing 500 meals to families in a food desert.
  • Include beneficiary testimonials. Beneficiaries are the crux of any nonprofit’s mission, and donors want to know exactly who their gifts are impacting. With their permission, interview a beneficiary and retell their story, via video or written content, to emphasize the influence of matching gift revenue. This helps donors build an emotional connection to the cause and motivates them to donate matching gifts if they haven’t yet. 

Ultimately, these strategies can help nonprofits overcome the donation-abandonment that can accompany matching gifts once donors reach the submission stage.

Matching gifts are a win-win for nonprofits, donors, and socially-minded companies. All nonprofit professionals need to do is spread the word about their amazing benefits and facilitate the donation process whenever possible, and they can smash their fundraising goals!

Sep 22, 2023
From the Field