Here at Donorbox, we know the extraordinary impact that the end of the year can have on your fundraising. In fact, last year we saw donations triple in volume!
Because the end of the year brings so many more donations, there is no better time to focus on matching gifts. More donations mean more matches, which means more revenue. It’s that simple!
In this article, our friends at Double the Donation will explain exactly what matching gifts are and then break down the 7 most effective places to inform donors about matching gifts, which are:
- Donation form
- Confirmation page
- Email follow-up
- Email newsletters
- Social media
- Direct mailers
- Dedicated matching gift page
We have a lot of tips, tricks, and information to share, so let’s get started!
An overview of matching gifts
Before you can start doubling your year-end donations, you need to know the basics of matching gifts. You need to know what they are, how they work, and how to claim them. Then we can talk about how to drive as many matches as possible to completion.
What are matching gifts?
Matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program. Actually, matching gifts are the most popular of all the corporate philanthropy programs out there.
Often matching gifts are offered by companies as an employee benefit. Basically, when an employee makes a donation, they can request that their employer also donates to the same nonprofit. The employer’s donation is the matching gift.
How do matching gifts work?
Although every program is unique to the company, every program is shaped around the same elements:
- Minimums and maximums: Each program clarifies exactly what amount qualifies for a matching gift. If an employee donates less than the minimum, there’s no match. If they donate more than the maximum, the employer will match up to the maximum, which is still great!
- Match ratio: This refers to the amount a company will donate in relation to the initial donation amount. The most common ratio, 1:1, means a company will donate the exact same amount as their employee donated.
- Employee status: Often an employee’s matching gift guidelines will depend on their level of employment. For example, a part-time employee could qualify for a 1:1 match, while an SVP qualifies for 2:1, and a retiree qualifies for .5:1. Sometimes the SVP has a higher maximum. All of this varies from program to program.
- Nonprofit Eligibility: Some companies will specify exactly what type of nonprofit they support through their corporate philanthropy program. For example, airlines often support educational nonprofits in particular.
- Deadlines: There is always a deadline by which a donor must submit their matching gift request to their employer. That deadline can be a hard date, like December 31, or it can be a designated amount of time after the donation is made, like 90 days.
As mentioned above, the end of the year is a very common deadline for matching gift requests. Those deadlines add even more time sensitivity to end-of-year fundraising appeals, and organizations should run with that!
When you reach out to your donors (including through some of the suggested methods that we offer below), make sure to remind them that the deadline for submitting their matching gift request might be just around the corner.
Despite the fact that every company’s guidelines are different, the process for matching gifts is always the same:
- The employee makes the initial donation.
- The employee submits the matching gift request to their employer.
- The employer confirms that the donor, the donation, and the nonprofit qualify for a matching gift.
- The nonprofit receives a check for the matching gift!
It’s important to recognize that the most breakdown in this process, by far, occurs at the second step. A nonprofit can not request a matching gift on behalf of their donor, the donor has to do it.
Now that you know what matching gifts are and how to collect them, let’s talk about how to start driving those matching gifts home! What we’re going to talk about below are the most effective places and strategies for spreading the word about matching gifts to your donors.
1. Donation form
Our first recommendation for where to include matching gift information is so obvious that people often overlook it. That’s right, we’re talking about the actual online donation form. What better time to encourage donors to double their impact than when they are already proving their commitment to your organization?
With a field on your donation form that asks donors for their company information, you plant the first seed about matching gifts in the donor’s mind. Then, if you have connected this company field to a matching gift search tool, you can present the donor with all of the information they need to submit their matching gift request.
2. Confirmation page
As we mentioned before, a donor can be presented with the matching gift information they need on the confirmation page after a donation is made. You can get the donor’s matching gift information to appear automatically when the company information is entered on the donation page.
You can also embed the matching gift search tool directly onto your confirmation page. This presents the donor with the opportunity to enter their employer information and search for the matching gift program that they are eligible for.
The confirmation page falls into the same category as the donation form in that it catches donors when they are the most interested in helping your cause and supporting your organization.
This is another great way to increase the impact of your end-of-year donations. Did you know that one-third of all annual giving happens in December? This increase in initial donations is reason enough to shout about matching gifts from the rooftops!
3. Email follow-up
You are always going to thank your donors for donating, right? Well, that email is another great way to spread the word about matching gifts.
At the end of the year, as the holidays approach, people feel particularly generous. There is an overwhelming amount of messages at that time about giving back to the community and to those around you. That is a bandwagon that all nonprofits should be jumping onto.
As you thank the donors for their gifts, remind them how much more impactful their gift could be if it were doubled. Encourage them to search for their employer’s matching gift programs and submit those matching gift requests.
4. Email newsletters
As you are communicating with your donor base via email this November and December, don’t be afraid to tap into that holiday spirit. Make sure to inform them about matching gifts and explain the impact they can have without sparing an extra dollar of their own money.
You can include this information as a blurb or link in a newsletter, or even as a special newsletter geared toward the importance of matching gifts! Just as long as you’re making sure to get this information in front of as many donors as possible.
Check out this example of an email sent out by the National Kidney Foundation:
You can also use these newsletters to remind your donors about #GivingTuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Remind them that donations on #GivingTuesday are just as match-eligible as any other donations.
You should also explain how matching gifts work and the process for driving them to completion. When donors understand how easy it is, they are far more likely to submit those matching gift requests.
5. Social media
Everyone is on social media these days. Alright, maybe not everyone… but pretty close! What’s exciting about social media is that it is so shareable, which can lead to new and unexpected donors for your organization.
It’s important to share a post on each of your social media accounts because you never know which post will reach those donors who are on the fence about donating. Did you know that just mentioning matching gifts in fundraising appeals results in a 71% increase in response rate? Really, you’d be crazy not to mention matching gifts as often as you can.
So what should you say in these social media posts? Simply combine what we’ve learned so far! Mention matching gifts, perhaps even providing a link to where donors can find more information. Remind donors that their matching gift request deadlines might be just around the corner. Encourage future donors to contribute and then check their match-eligibility.
This might sound like a lot to do in one social media post, but you can do it! Take a look at the example from AARF Atlanta below:
As you can see, it’s easy to incorporate matching gifts, all you have to do is try!
6. Direct mailers
As we mentioned with social media, direct mailers are another great way to reach new audiences. For example, older people are often not on social media, but they are checking their mail and sifting through it. The younger set, on the other hand, immediately toss out their mail.
So what do we suggest you do with a direct mailer? Come on, you know what we’re going to say… tell your donors about matching gifts! Check out this example from the Florida Institute of Technology.
More companies are instating matching gift programs, so these opportunities are not exclusive to employees of Fortune 500 companies. Though, it is interesting to note that 65% of Fortune 500 companies do have matching gift programs, so always give a donor from a recognizable company a second look. They might be match-eligible.
On your mailers, you can quickly define what matching gifts are and direct your donors to where they can find more information about these matching gift programs. As you can see on the FIT mailer, they provide a URL where donors can go to check their eligibility.
7. Dedicated matching gifts page
The dedicated matching gifts page is crucial. Unlike the donation form or the confirmation page, the dedicated matching gifts page is for potential donors, not active donors. When you have “Matching Gifts” in your website’s navigation bar, you can turn a casual website visitor into a donor. Better yet, a donor who knows about matching gifts.
We highly encourage housing a matching gift search tool on this page. This page should also provide information about matching gifts and how the process works. Then allow the donor to search for their employer’s matching gift program while they are feeling excited about the possibility of doubling their donation.
Another amazing benefit of having a matching gifts page is that you can link back to it. Those emails we talked about? Link to the matching gifts page. Social media posts? Link back to the matching gifts page. Direct mailers? Definitely, include the link to your matching gifts page.
Our recommendation for matching gift software
Here at DonorBox, we recommend Double the Donation, the industry-leading provider of matching gift search tools. They have the most extensive matching gift database, including 20,000 companies, subsidiaries, and spelling variations to make sure that not a single matching gift opportunity is missed.
They have various product offerings, so your organization can choose which model suits you best.
As an organization, all you can do to collect matching gifts is to inform and encourage your donors. So we are encouraging you to do just that at every single turn!