All nonprofits get excited about matching gifts, and they should! Putting effort into marketing them and incorporating them into your donation process brings in extra funds without your supporters having to donate any more out of their own pockets.
But matching gift marketing and development are also hard work. So how do you know if your efforts are paying off?
You have to develop some way to measure the effect matching gifts are having on your fundraising. If you’re marketing them well and integrating them seamlessly into your donation process, you need to know — and you need to know even more urgently if your current process isn’t working.
Here are 7 important metrics to track to evaluate your matching gift efforts, from beginning to end:
- How many donations are eligible for matching?
- How many eligible donations are followed up by a matching gift request?
- How many requests make their way back to you for verification?
- How many requests do you verify?
- How many matched gifts do you actually receive?
- What percentage of your overall gifts is made up of matching gifts?
- Which companies are donating the most in matching gifts?
Ready to dig into your matching gift records? Let’s get started!
Sadly, not every donation made to your nonprofit will be eligible for matching.
The million dollar question becomes: How do you know which of your donations are eligible for matching?
Consider the following:
- Donor’s employment information: You’ll need to keep track of where your donors work in your donor management software. Since most matching gift programs are run through companies for their employees, knowing where your donors work should cover the vast majority of opportunities for matching gifts.
- Company employee giving programs: Not all companies offer matching gift programs. To find out if a company offers this kind of program, consider searching a matching gift database or contacting the company directly.
- Eligibility: Once you’ve found out whether your donors’ employers have matching gift programs, you need to look into the terms. What kind of employees can have their gifts matched, and to which organizations will the company match donations?
However you gather this information, it’s important to compare your total number of donations to your number of match-eligible donations.
If a small percentage of your current donations are eligible to be matched, you might want to keep your eyes open as you acquire new donors to pick the perfect time to put all your effort into matching gift marketing! It’s all about timing.
On that note, it’s important to routinely revisit this metric. Companies may decide to institute matching gift programs after you check the first time, so you don’t want to miss out on all those extra donations in the future because you forgot to follow up.
Not every donor who makes a matching gift-eligible donation will actually submit a request. There are a number of reasons why an eligible donor wouldn’t move forward with a matching gift request, but the most common is lack of awareness.
If donors don’t know about matching gifts, they won’t fill out a request.
To close the knowledge gap, dedicate some of your time and effort to spread the word about matching gifts to your supporters and implement software to make the process easier to navigate.
The goal is to get the word out about matching gifts early on so that your supporters are already familiar with the concept before they even get to your donation form. You have plenty of options:
- Direct mail: You could send flyers or letters about matching gifts to donors at their home address.
- Email: Sending an email is quicker than direct mail, though be careful that you don’t end up in your donors’ spam folders.
- Social media: Quick and free, social media is a great way to get matching gift information out to a lot of people at once.
Even if your donors don’t get the message before they donate, you can also incorporate matching gift information into confirmation emails, web pages, or letters after a donation is made. Thank your supporters for their gift and then remind them to look up their company’s matching gift program before the deadline.
After all your efforts prepping your supporters with matching gift information, don’t forget to include it on the donation form itself!
You can install a plugin that walks your donors through the entire matching gift process and connects to a database that they can search for information about their employers’ programs.
Even if a donor submits a request, you might not actually receive contact from their employer asking for verification. Most often, a breakdown at this step in the process comes from your donor overlooking some procedural element on their end.
Some of the most common stumbling blocks are:
- Deadlines: Many companies allow about a year after the date of donation, but some only give their employees around 90 days.
- Format: Some companies require hard copies of forms to be delivered to them, while others accept electronic submissions.
- Minimum amounts: A majority of company giving programs only match donations above a specified minimum amount.
There’s not much you can do about donors who have already missed deadlines or improperly filled out a form, but you can follow up with donors who made a request to remind them of deadlines or guide them to resources to help them fill out forms.
Even though your recipient has already made a donation by the time you’re sending a follow-up letter, you’re still emailing them for more donations, albeit via their company’s budget. Think of your email like another solicitation — you have to convince them why taking the time to fill out a matching gift request is worth it.
You’d like to think that every time a company reaches out to you to verify a donation, you would be able to reply promptly and in the affirmative. That’s not always the case.
You might not actually be verifying all your donations, for a number of reasons:
- Your donor might not have actually made the donation for the amount that’s reported on the paperwork you receive.
- Your accounting solution might not be tracking your donations accurately.
- You might not be responding to all requests from companies to verify donations.
In the first case, it seems that your donor made a mistake filling out the paperwork properly. In the other cases, it seems that the fault is yours.
If your accounting is the problem, you might need to upgrade to a software solution, like ones that made Double the Donation’s list of the best 10 accounting software for nonprofits.
If you’re not actually responding to all requests, it could be a problem with your timing, your diligence in checking for requests, or your email client.
These problems are largely procedural and able to be fixed with a little attention. Make sure you’re monitoring this metric so you don’t let any potential problems slip through the cracks!
Possibly the most important metric on this list, you need to track how many matched gifts you actually receive at the end of the day.
This total number of matched gifts can be very important for comparison purposes.
Comparing your total number of matched gifts received to other metrics on this list can shed light on potential problem spots in your matching gift process. For instance:
If the number of total matched gifts received is significantly lower than the number of eligible donations but about the same as the number of eligible donations followed up by a request, then the problem is likely in your marketing or implementation.
If the total number of matched gifts received is about the same as the number of donations you verify but significantly lower than the number of eligible donations followed up by a request, then the problem is likely on the donor’s end.
These are by no means the only valuable comparisons you could draw, but things get complicated quickly with fundraising data. You might want to post on a nonprofit job board for a matching gifts expert to help you make sense of these metrics.
It’s time to take a step back from the details of the matching gifts process and look big-picture.
One of the most important things you can do is compare the total monetary value of your matching gifts to your total monetary intake of all donations.
You could discover that you’re relying heavily on matching gifts revenue or that they’re hardly comprising any of your total intake.
This information is invaluable when you’re looking at your efforts marketing matching gifts and implementing matching gift software solutions.
Think about it:
- If a low percentage of your overall intake comes from matching gifts but you’re putting a lot of effort into marketing and software, your efforts probably aren’t paying off.
- If matching gifts make up a low percentage of your overall intake and you’re not dedicating much energy to marketing them, you might be missing out.
Be sure to keep track of this percentage over time, especially as you launch and conclude campaigns.
Certain times of year or types of campaigns might lend themselves more closely to matching gifts, which you can pick up on by tracking this metric and implementing your findings into your planning of future campaigns.
The more targeted your marketing and software implementation can be, the more effective it can be.
If you can figure out which companies are giving you the most in matching gifts, you can see what you’re doing to market to them so you can use the same strategy with other companies.
This is another good metric to keep track of over time because it can drive your marketing strategy.
- You can track which companies are beginning to give you a little more as word spreads among employees who donate to your nonprofit. Marketing efforts here are clearly helping!
- You can keep a lookout for companies whose giving has started to slacken. It might be a good idea to reinvigorate your marketing efforts here.
- You can research other kinds of corporate giving at companies who donate a lot to you in matching gifts. They clearly feel a connection to you, so capitalize on it.
Successful fundraising is as much about building relationships as anything else. By watching the metrics of companies that donate matching gifts to you, you’re being smart about how to maintain your relationships with them.
You don’t want to leave money on the table if a little marketing and software implementation are all that’s standing between you and a wealth of matching gifts.
Use these metrics to guide you to a greater understanding on the effect matching gifts have on your nonprofit, and work matching gifts seamlessly into your donation process through our integration!
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.