Boost Your Year-End Fundraising Push with Matching Gifts

The end of the year can be a fantastic time for fundraising: after all, charity and giving are among the most prominent messages of the holiday season. Your donors have supported you all year, and they’re likely ready to give one last time before the calendar changes, but did you know that you may be able to get much more out of each of their contributions?

In this post, we’ll be learning the basics of corporate matching gift programs. Common among companies but often overlooked as a source of additional funding by donors and nonprofits alike, matching gift programs have the potential to double or even further increase every eligible donation that your organization receives from employees of participating companies.

We’re going to answer the following questions so that your organization will be ready to seek out matching gifts before the year is over:

  • What are matching gifts?
  • How do matching gifts programs work?
  • How can matching gifts impact year-end fundraising?
  • What makes matching gifts appealing to year-end donors?
  • How can you promote matching gifts to year-end donors?

Get ready to transform your final fundraising push of the season and get your donors into the holiday spirit with our entry into the world of matching gift programs.

1. What are matching gifts?

As part of their corporate philanthropy programs, many companies offer to match their employees’ donations to nonprofit organizations.

When employees of these companies contribute to their favorite charitable causes, they become eligible to ask their companies to contribute a matching donation. While most companies with matching gift programs match their employees’ donations on a 1:1 ratio, some programs match on a 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1 ratio!

Matching gift programs are an incredible benefit to nonprofit organizations, who have the opportunity to receive twice as large a donation from any donor working for a company that has such a program in place.

They are lovely for donors as well, allowing them to make much more significant contributions to the causes and organizations they care about without spending more of their own money. Double the Donation’s guide to matching gift programs provides an overview of how these programs operate and illustrate just how valuable they can be for all participants.

Thousands of companies all over the world have matching gift programs in place, yet they are disappointingly underutilized by employees and by the nonprofits who benefit from them the most.

Although companies want their employees to take advantage of these programs when they make charitable gifts, there are several reasons why matching gift programs aren’t always used:

  1. Employees don’t know about their companies’ matching gift programs. Most companies do not provide their employees with extensive or repeated information about their matching gift programs and policies. A notice in a document for new hires or a single annual reminder doesn’t provide enough information for most employees to remember their company’s matching gift policy or to understand it adequately.
  2. Nonprofits are unaware of pertinent information regarding their donors and their donors’ employers. Nonprofits that do not record their donors’ employers in their donor databases, or that are uncertain of new and potential donors’ employers cannot remind their donors that they are eligible to participate in matching gift programs. Even nonprofits that record their donors’ employers may not know that those companies have matching gift programs in place.
  3. Donors aren’t reminded to make matching gifts. Nonprofits may be aware that their donors work for companies that offer matching gifts, but don’t remember these donors to submit their matching gift requests to their employers.

What is the ultimate result of these misunderstandings and lapses in communication on the part of companies, employees, and nonprofits?

Millions of dollars in potential matching gift revenue goes untouched every year, and some of that money could be going to your nonprofit! If your donors are eligible to participate in matching gift programs through their employers but aren’t being reminded to do so, then your organization is missing out on additional funding that would cost your donors nothing to contribute.

If you aren’t already encouraging your donors to increase their contributions by utilizing their companies’ matching gift programs, start now as the year-end giving season gains momentum.

2. How do matching gifts programs work?

Let’s take a look at the steps involved:

  1. A donor contributes to your nonprofit. Want to make sure that every donor who visits your website knows whether they are eligible to request a matching gift from their employer? Consider using automated software for matching gifts. This software can determine donor eligibility and remind them to submit their matching gift request.
  2. The donor submits a matching gift request to their company. Matching gift software is useful for donors, too, as they can use it to determine whether their company has a matching gift program. This information should also be available on their company’s website.
  3. The company reviews the request to determine whether it is eligible for a matching donation. Corporate matching gift programs tend to match their employees’ contributions toward a wide variety of nonprofits, but there are some restrictions. For example, many corporations have maximum and minimum gift amounts and will only match donations within those boundaries.
  4. Your nonprofit verifies that it received the initial donation. Your donor’s employer needs to confirm with your organization that the first donation was made before they can send their matching gift.
  5. Your nonprofit receives a check from your donor’s company. Once your donor’s gift is confirmed, their employer will be ready to match their donation.

Although the process requires coordination among donors, employers, and your organization, with a bit of research and the help of matching gift tools, you’ll find that matching gift programs are an easy way to increase contributions, get donors more excited, and amplify your fundraising abilities.

3. How can matching gifts impact year-end fundraising?

As the year draws to a close and your organization makes its final fundraising push of the season, matching gift programs can help you reach your goals even after most of your donors have made their last contributions for the year.

Matching gift programs allow donors to contribute to your organization one last time for the year without spending more money.

If your donors are eligible for their employers’ corporate giving programs but haven’t utilized them yet, remind them that they can submit matching gift requests for all of the contributions they made to your organization within the past year. Your organization can double a year’s worth of donations from any donor who submits eligible requests to their employer–what a fantastic start to the holiday season!

The end of the year is a favorite time to give, so be sure to alert all of your donors to the possibility of participating in their employers’ matching gift programs to make the most out of their contributions. As you’re working with your year-end donors, don’t forget about the supporters who contributed earlier in the year.

If they are eligible to participate in a matching gift program, their donations can still be matched if they submit a request to their employer by the end of the year! They should be aware of their company’s timeline for processing requests to ensure that they complete theirs in time. Your organization doesn’t want to miss out on any of these matching gifts, especially from companies recognized for their generous matching gift programs.

4. What makes matching gifts appealing to year-end donors?

Matching gifts make donors feel proud at any time of the year, allowing them to give twice as much or more to the organizations who stand by their missions and values.

For donors inspired by the spirit of giving that characterizes the holiday season, using matching gift programs to contribute more substantial amounts can foster stronger connections to the causes they care about. Your donors are committed to doing their part this season, so help them out by familiarizing yourself with the process of corporate giving via matching gift programs. They’ll feel good about giving back twice as much, and you’ll feel good about putting the extra funds toward the causes that matter to your organization and its supporters.

While the holiday season encourages expressions of charity, there’s no denying that between gifts and travel it can be an expensive time of year for many families and individuals. Would your donors love to contribute to your year-end fundraising goals, but don’t have more to give right now?

If they haven’t already taken advantage of their companies’ matching gift programs earlier in the year, encourage them to make their holiday contributions to your organization by submitting matching gift requests to their employers. Even if they cannot spend any more money this season, they’ll still be able to make their holiday contributions to your nonprofit by taking advantage of matching gift programs.

If the holiday spirit and your promotion of matching gift programs combine to result in increased traffic to your website, make sure that your donation page is equipped to handle new visitors with ease and presents their donation options.

5. How can you promote matching gifts to year-end donors?

Your donors will be thrilled to contribute more to your organization at no additional cost to them, but you’ll have to make them aware of the matching gift programs available to them to benefit from that end-of-year enthusiasm that donors tend to demonstrate in November and December.

One effective strategy is to start using a matching gifts database. Your matching gifts database helps you reach out to donors and makes the process of obtaining matching gifts easier for everyone involved by providing information on:

  • Matching gifts program policies specific to your donors’ employers
  • Match request forms and company contact point information
  • Information on eligibility, parameters, and restrictions
  • Deadlines – particularly crucial for year-end gifts!

Once your matching gifts database is up and running, use it to personalize your approach to different groups of donors. Individualizing your ask as much as possible is always a great way to attract and retain supporters, and you can incorporate their employers’ matching gifts programs into these personalized communications! In emails, calls, and other materials distributed to donors known to work for companies with matching gifts programs include information on those programs to ensure that their match request will be as easy to submit as possible.

Widespread among companies and easy to use, matching gift programs deserve more attention from the donors and nonprofits who benefit from them.

Be sure that your supporters are aware of matching gift programs, make the process as smooth as possible for them, and watch as the doubled gifts revitalize your end-of-year fundraising efforts!

John Haydon