7 Essential Matching Gift Steps to Take in the New Year | npENGAGE

7 Essential Matching Gift Steps to Take in the New Year

By on Nov 22, 2017


Essential matching gift steps every nonprofit should take

As we approach the end of 2017, it’s time to look forward for ways to increase donations in 2018.

It can feel like you’ve exhausted every fundraising avenue already, like your donors have given all they can give. But what if that weren’t the case? What if you could significantly increase your donations with no extra money actually coming from your donors themselves?

That’s the magic of matching gift programs, which enable companies to donate the same amount of money as their employees to eligible organizations.

With these 7 simple steps, you can seriously increase your donations in the new year:

  1. Take cues from your donor database.
  2. Research local companies with matching gift programs.
  3. Include matching gifts on your donation form.
  4. Emphasize matching gifts on acknowledgement messages.
  5. Promote matching gifts on social media.
  6. Work matching gifts into your events.
  7. Employ a matching gift software.

2016 marked the beginning of a significant uptick in employees as philanthropists, and the trend hasn’t slowed down through 2017. Take advantage of that momentum in 2018 with matching gifts!

How to take cues from your database for matching gifts

1. Take cues from your donor database.

If you’re keeping good records about your donors in your donor management software, you’ll know where your donors work. That information might not seem that important, but you’ll be happy you collected it when it comes time to market matching gifts.

Make it a point in the new year to proactively reach out to your donors who are employed by companies that offer matching gift programs.

You could find out who works at a company with an established matching gift program by:

  • Investigating the company’s website.
  • Emailing or calling a giving officer or HR professional at the company.

Once you discover that your donor is employed by a matching gift company, reach out to them directly to make sure they know about their employer’s program. There’s nothing like the personal touch. By contacting donor within a company instead of trying to grab the attention of busy executives who don’t have a connection with you, you have a better chance of being heard.

Your donor database can also lead you in interesting directions if some of your donors own or hold high leadership positions within companies.

You could reach out to these individuals with high clout and encourage them to set up an employee matching gift program within their company. They might not know about these programs or where to begin, and your offer to help could be the nudge they need to establish one!

Research local companies with matching gift programs

2. Research local companies with matching gift programs.

Remember that companies want to be associated with charitable causes. It makes them look good, and they get to do good!

By findings companies who have set up matching gift programs, you find the companies that are actively interested in charitable giving.

Even employees within these companies who haven’t donated to your nonprofit in the past might be inclined to do so if you reach out to them directly.

You can check your donor information against Fundly’s list of 90+ companies that give to charity to see if any of these companies employ your donors. Some of the biggest matching gift corporations that might have some employees near you are:

  • The Home Depot: Both full- and part-time employees are eligible to participate in matching gift programs, and the company will match donations to a wide range of nonprofits.
  • Starbucks: Any full-time, part-time, or retired Starbucks employee in the United States or Canada can have their gifts matched. They can also apply for volunteer grants for up to $1,000 for 100 hours of volunteering!
  • Verizon: Verizon employees working full-time or part-time, as well as retired employees, can submit request for matching gifts to most schools and nonprofit organizations.

Don’t be shy! You know that companies with matching gift programs want to give charitably. They should be open to a nonprofit reaching out to give them a little direction.

How to include matching gifts on your donation form

3. Include matching gifts on your donation form.

Whether you send out paper donation slips, host an online donation form on your website, or use mobile giving software, your donation form is the most powerful platform you have to share essential information about matching gifts.

Think about it: If you ask everyone on your email list to match their gifts, you’ll be asking people who weren’t going to donate as well as people who were going to donate.

But if you ask people who are filling out the donation form to match their gifts, you know that everyone you contact is already halfway on their way to a matching gift!

You already know that these donors want to support your cause in that moment, so offer them a way to up their donation without actually giving any more money themselves.

To remind your supporters about matching gifts as they’re making a donation, you could:

  • Write a few sentences about the matching gift process and its benefits at the top of the form.
  • Link to a matching gift database and ask donors to check for their companies.
  • Include a searchable HTML plugin linked to matching gift software.

Plugins are the cleanest way to integrate matching gift information on your donation form. Here’s what they look like:

Example of a matching gift form

Be sure to keep your message short and direct, or choose a plugin that’s simple and clean. You don’t want to distract your supporters so much that they end up not donating at all. Make sure your online donation form is optimized so visitors to your website are sure to follow through with their donation.

How to emphasize matching gifts on acknowledgement messages

4. Emphasize matching gifts on acknowledgement messages.

Second only to your donation form, your thank-you and confirmation messages are the best places to include more information encouraging matching gifts.

Donors who have just given are still in the charitable mood. Capitalize on that good feeling!

When you include matching gift information in acknowledgement messages, be sure to convey an appropriate sense of urgency.

Every company’s matching gift program works a little bit differently, so not every donor will have the same amount of time after their donation to submit the necessary paperwork.

Here are a few ways to word your acknowledgement message to make sure your donors don’t miss out on their opportunity to file a matching gift request:

  • Thank you for contributing to our cause! Do you know if your employer will match your donation? Check out the matching gift database widget below, where you can search for companies that offer matching gift programs, and make special note of the deadline for submitting your paperwork.
  • Thank you for your donation! Did you know your company could match your donation? Type your company information into the widget below to see if they have a matching gifts program, and be sure to make a note of the deadline to submit paperwork.
  • Thank you for donating to our campaign! If you’d like to make your donation go twice as far, search your company in a matching gifts database through the widget below. Don’t wait too long! Most companies impose a deadline for submitting paperwork.

Note that you have two options: You could embed a widget directly into your message (or link to it), or send your donors to their HR department for information and paperwork. Here’s what a widget would look like when embedded on your confirmation page:

Example of a matching gift confirmation page

It’s not just donation confirmation messages you should include matching gift information on.

As part of your general stewardship strategy, you should be sending regular thank-you messages to your donors. Include matching gift information on these communications, too. You can encourage them to match their next gift as you advertize your next campaign.

How to promote matching gifts on social media

5. Promote matching gifts on social media.

How better to get matching gift information out to as many people as possible than through social media?

You should be strategic with your messaging on social media, though. It’s tempting to just flood your followers’ feeds with information, but that strategy can overwhelm them and cause them to unfollow you. Think about when and how you’re reaching out via social media platforms.

There are some times that your supporters are more likely to be on social media looking for information about your nonprofit:

  • #GivingTuesday: This hashtag trends on Twitter on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, encouraging charitable giving across many areas of the nonprofit sector.
  • End of a fundraising campaign: If you’re wrapping up a campaign, your followers will want to see total donation amounts and other statistics about how it went.
  • The holidays: It’s a charitable time of year, and your supporters will be looking for the best ways to give.

The medium of your posts also matters. If you just share text-only posts all the time, your followers could just glaze over them as they scroll through their feeds. Consider using images, infographics, and hyperlinks to make your posts about matching gifts more interactive and interesting.

As you work to spread the word about matching gifts on social media during these peak times, make sure you’re keeping in mind social media best practices. It’s about building and sustaining relationships, not just blasting your supporters with lots of information.

How to work matching gifts into your events

6. Work matching gifts into your events.

What better time to make an important announcement than when you’ve got all of your supporters together?

When you’re hosting an event, you have the attention of everyone in attendance! Use that attention to inform your donors about ways to make their gift go further.

Here are some ways you can include matching gifts in the program of a few common fundraising events:

  • Charity auction: During a charity auction, everyone’s eyes are at the front of the room to watch the emcee run live bidding. Capitalize on the focused attention to bring up matching gifts to everyone in the room.
  • Walkathon: Marketing materials for a charity walkathon are the perfect place to get visibility for matching gift information. You’ll have banners and booths set up all around your venue, plus any flyers you send to participants.
  • Volunteer drive: If you’re organizing a volunteer drive, see if your supporters’ employers will match time as well as money donated to charity. Volunteer grants aren’t as common as matching gift programs, but they’re still widespread enough to merit asking about.

However you decide to get your supporters together, be sure you’re choosing an event management software, like these on Double the Donation’s list of fundraising event software and tools for nonprofits, that will let you spread the word about matching gifts to your attendees before and after the event.

How to employ matching gift software

7. Employ a matching gift software.

As your nonprofit grows and your staff starts taking on more responsibilities, you might not have time to manually follow up on matching gift information. Your staff might not even know exactly what to look for.

Luckily, there’s a way to automate parts of the matching gift process.

The benefit of investing in software is that it automates either a part of or the whole matching gift process. You can focus on other parts of your nonprofit’s daily operations and leave the matching gifts to the experts!

If you were paying attention, you probably noticed that these steps all have one important thing in common:

They are all ways to capitalize on charitable inclinations that donors and companies already demonstrate.

By following these steps, you’re letting donors and companies know that they have the means to do what they want: make their gifts go further than they’d imagined.

Take these lessons with you, and you can’t go wrong!


Adam Weinger is one of the leading experts on corporate giving programs.

He’s the President of Double the Donation, a company which helps organizations raise more money from employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs. The company partners with nonprofits ranging from arts and cultural organizations, hospitals, educational institutions, and community based organizations to help them increase fundraising from corporate giving programs.

Adam is a frequent contributor to many leading nonprofit magazines and blogs, including NonprofitPro, GuideStarNonprofit Marketing Guide, Top Nonprofits, Nonprofit.About.com and of course, Double the Donation’s blog.

Organizations looking to learn more about employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs should check out the resources the company provides which include lists of the top matching gift and volunteer grant companies.

Have questions for Adam Weinger or Double the Donation? Email Adam or connect with Double the Donation on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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