Summer may be a season when people are taking time off and not really thinking about donating to a cause. However, there’s still a chance to fundraise effectively!
Beating the summer donation slump means reconnecting with past donors and guests at your events. After all, donor cultivation is key. But if you want to increase the chances of receiving summer donations and maximizing those amounts, you should turn to matching gifts.
Many corporations match donations made by employees to a wide range of nonprofits to support employee charitable giving, and to extend corporate philanthropy.
Matching donations, or matching gifts, are free money that nonprofits often miss out on. This can be the result of limited information on donors’ employers, complex corporate giving programs, or the fact that the corporate matching process is usually unknown for employees.
But there is a way to avoid these issues, and we’ll outline them below:
- Understand the Basics
- Learn About Top Matching Gift Companies
- Use Matching Gift Software
By understanding how matching gifts work, you’ll be able to beat the summer fundraising slump and bring in more revenue for your organization. Let’s jump right into it!
1. Understand the Basics of Matching Gifts
According to Double the Donation’s guide to matching gifts, matching gifts are a form of philanthropy in which companies match donations their employees make to eligible nonprofits. In short, matching gifts combine the power of individuals with companies by elevating the capability of your donors’ contributions.
One donation is always welcome. Two donations for the work of acquiring one seems too good to be true. But it’s not. Matching gifts give nonprofits that exact opportunity.
All sorts of companies, big and small, match gifts. Most programs are not only generous about giving money, but are also willing to donate to a broad spectrum of organization types.
Many companies with matching gift programs match employee donations to nearly any 501(c)(3) organization or educational institution. The remaining companies match donations to specific types of organizations, such as:
- Educational institutions (K-12 included)
- Health and human services
- Arts and cultural organizations
- Civic and community organizations
- Environmental organizations
Understanding a matching gift program’s specifications around nonprofit eligibility is essential so you understand where your organization stands with all sorts of matching gift companies!
Ratios and Amounts
Along with nonprofit eligibility, companies apply minimums and maximums to their matching gift programs. The most common minimum amount that companies will match is $25, though minimum matches range from $1 to $100. Maximums typically range from $1,000 to $15,000, but can extend beyond that.
The majority of companies match donations at a 1:1 ratio, though ratios can be set at anything from .5:1 ($0.50 match on every dollar donated) to 4:1 ($4 match on every dollar donated).
Just as nonprofits must be eligible for specific matching gift programs, employees must be, too. Many matching gift companies only match donations made by employees of a certain employment status, such as full-time or part-time. Oftentimes, retired individuals are also eligible for a matching donation, but not always. Be aware of these eligibility requirements to make sure you can secure matching gift revenue from the right opportunities.
2. Learn About Top Matching Gift Companies
Did you know 65% of Fortune 500 companies match donations from employees to a wide variety of nonprofits?
This is a huge number! Some of the top matching gift programs include Microsoft and General Electric (GE). Microsoft has the world’s most widely used matching gift program, while GE created the world’s first matching gift program in 1954.
But there are even more programs out there. For example:
- IBM matches eligible contributions up to $5,000 per institution per donor, for a total of $10,000 in gifts per donor each calendar year. Their match ratio is 1:1 for active employees and .5:1 for retirees.
- Gap matches up to $10,000 per employee per year, depending on their position at the company. Most nonprofits are eligible to receive a matching donation.
- ExxonMobil matches donations to educational organizations at up to a 2:1 ratio, with a maximum of $7,500.
The takeaway? Millions of individuals work for companies that will match their donations. And many of these companies match donations to several types of nonprofits. Educating your staff and determining if any of your donors (such as from auctions or other events) are linked to these companies can create a huge boost in revenue.
If you’re looking for an efficient way to do all of this, read on!
3. Use Matching Gift Software
Marketing matching gifts is essential. Lack of awareness and know-how are the top two reasons eligible donors don’t submit matching gift requests.
On the other hand, nonprofits that promote matching gifts to their donors are the ones that see the greatest matching gift success. Donors who know their gift will be matched are more likely to give at all, or even increase their gift amount.
One of the most effective ways to promote matching gifts to your supporters is by investing in matching gift software. Matching gift software gives your donors direct access to a database of thousands of companies and their matching gift programs. That information includes:
- Minimum and maximum match amounts
- Employee eligibility
- Links to electronic guidelines and forms
- Company-specific match instructions
Where do you start? Choose a comprehensive matching gift database that covers a majority of matching gift programs out there and is frequently updated and maintained. The database should also be user-friendly, offering an easy-to-use search tool that you can place on your website so donors can search for their companies.
Once you have the search tool embedded on your website, you can use it:
- On donation forms. When individuals go to donate on your website, your donation form should display the company search tool, which encourages them to look up their matching gift eligibility right then and there! This will increase the likelihood of them submitting a match request.
- On a dedicated matching gift page. Encourage your event guests and other supporters to visit your website to view specific information about matching gifts. Having a dedicated matching gift page that explains the process will make it easier for donors to submit a request to their employer.
- Across social media. Social media is a great place to promote matching gifts! If you’re already promoting an auction or other fundraising events on your social media pages, why not add information about matching gifts? Link to your donation form or dedicated matching gifts page to direct donors to the company search tool.
- In emails. When thanking donors for their gifts or guests for attending your event, be sure to include matching gift information in your follow-up emails. If an individual donated at your event, they may be eligible to submit a match request.
Across your fundraising communications. Do you send out newsletters on a regular basis? How about direct mail? Include a dedicated section in your newsletter, or an insert in your direct mail materials, that features a link to your website and draws attention to matching gifts.
Encouraging donors to submit their matching gift requests is the key to raising more. Through the use of matching gift software and effective marketing, you’ll be boosting your fundraising revenue in no time!
With the right tools in your hands, your nonprofit can raise more for your cause—even during the summer! By understanding how matching gifts work and helping your donors determine their eligibility, you’ll double those donations in no time. Good luck!
Special thanks to Adam for sharing his expert advice in this article.
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email:firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn.