Budgeting for Your Company’s Matching Gifts Program | npENGAGE

Budgeting for Your Company’s Matching Gifts Program

By on Sep 26, 2018


At Blackbaud, we take a unique approach to our employee matching gift program, one that is popular amongst other corporate giving programs. With our matching program, Blackbaud empowers employee philanthropy through individual choice. Through this approach, Blackbaud achieves much higher than the average participation rates of 9% for year-round matching programs – in fact, in 2017 22.7% of employees took advantage of their matching benefit. The benefits we’ve seen as a result of this philosophy include increased employee engagement and easier budgeting.

If you’re looking to start a matching program at your organization, there are a few items you should consider when planning and budgeting for the year.

  • First, what kind of match do you want to offer? When starting Blackbaud’s program from scratch, we decided to stick with a 1:1 match up to the maximum amount per employee. This made budgeting for the program pretty straightforward: I set my participation rate goal for the year and multiply the number of employees that goal reflects by the program maximum.
  • Second, how “open” will your program be? Will you match donations to a wide range of organizations or will you only match to certain focus areas?  At Blackbaud, we match donations to organizations across the social good sector.

Obviously, not all employees participate or donate the maximum. However, planning your matching grift program based on your participation rate goal can have other benefits. For example, I highlight our matching gift program when disasters, both natural and man-made, strike.  This gentle nudge reminds  that we want to amplify their giving through our matching gift program. Since these cycles of giving can be unpredictable, budgeting based on participation rates helps smooth out fluctuations in employee giving.  We’re upfront with our employees that once the budget allocation for the year is met, we will  pause the program until our next fiscal year.

Once you reach the maximum spend for your fiscal year, it becomes easier to make the case for additional investment in the program for the next budget year. Knowing your current participation rate and your plans to grow it in subsequent years bolsters your case. It’s an easy win for the company to amplify employee giving by matching their gifts, but no one likes to go over budget.

As your program matures, you can think of other ways to engage your employees and boost participation rates. Once you have a few months’ worth of data, you can use a reporting system to support the growth of your program. I often use monthly and year-over-year comparisons, which helps me identify more active times of the year (like hurricane season, #GivingTuesday, or the holidays). We use this type of data to track our participation rates and determine if additional funding is needed for the next year.

No matter if your program is a straight 1:1 match, or 3:1, the fundamentals of setting up a budgeting process for a successful matching program remain the same:

  • Do your research to get an idea of how many employees may participate at the onset of the program.
  • Research participation data for your industry and organization size (CECP’s Giving in Numbers is a great resource), and network with other companies offering a matching gift program and learn from their experiences.
  • Based on the prior two metrics, set a participation goal and a maximum budget allocation for the year.

From there it will be an exciting ride as you amplify your employees’ giving to causes and organizations they care about, gain more understanding of employee giving behaviors and preferences, and adjust the program as needed. Good luck!


Sally J. Ehrenfried, Principal, Government Relations leads public policy at Blackbaud, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLKB), headquartered in Charleston, SC., and is responsible for the company’s global government relations portfolios, with specific focus on the US, Canada, and the UK, and advocates for policies that benefit the social good sector. Previously, she led philanthropy and volunteer engagement for the company and was responsible for the company’s global community relations, corporate giving, and volunteerism portfolios.  In this role, Sally served as a catalyst for Blackbaud and its employees to engage across the social good community where she set the strategy and tactics for the company’s employee facing volunteer and philanthropy efforts.

Sally spent 13 years in the United States Senate as an aide to Senators George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), William S. Cohen (R-Maine), and Ronald L. Wyden (D-Oregon), serving in a variety of committee, personal office, and leadership staff roles.

Sally is chair of Giving Institute’s Public Policy Committee and co-chair of the Southeastern Council on Foundations Public Policy Committee.   She presents regularly on advocacy and the social good sector, effective grantmaking, and employee engagement and volunteerism.

Sally is a graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, ME, and received a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.  She is a past president of the Bates College Alumni Association, serves as a tutor with Reading Partners, volunteers with English Springer Rescue America, and chairs Grace Church Cathedral’s annual stewardship efforts.

Comments (32)

  • Angie Stumpo says:

    As a nonprofit, I don’t foresee us implementing a matching gift program. I find it interesting that some companies, like Blackbaud, limit what kinds of nonprofits they will support. This seems a bit unfair since employees are all going to have various passions for different causes, but only some can get the match.

  • Amy Dana says:

    I <3 matching gift companies!

  • Stephanie Boyce says:

    Matching Gift Companies are great!

  • Karen Stuhlfeier says:

    I think that Angie Stumpo makes good points.

  • Heather says:

    Interesting read… learned lots!

  • Barb says:

    Interesting points!

  • Curtis says:

    Need more companies to put effort into this. Specifically companies that donate to the nonprofit I work for.

  • karina says:

    Great information on what Blackbaud offers.

  • Mary Sommer says:

    I agree with other comments, as a non profit, I don’t think this will happen in the near future.

  • Alicia Barevich says:

    Matching gift companies are great. This seems a bit unfair though since employees are all going to have various passions for different causes, but only some can get the match.

  • Sage says:

    I like the emphasis on research. So often these goals are simply pulled out of thin air!

  • Sunshine Watson says:

    Thanks for posting!

  • Gavin Mann says:

    Many thanks for the very helpful ideas. This is an area we need to expand at our organisation.

  • Claudia says:

    Matching gifts are great, I wish there was a way to streamline their administration from the receiving end, or at least a common procedure.

  • KaLeigh says:

    Wish we could implement this! Great tools to use elsewhere, though.

  • Brett Chapman says:

    Thank you for posting.

  • Karen says:

    I agree with Angie Stumpo, I don’t foresee us implementing a matching gift program.

  • Ann Nischke says:

    Our organization does not have a matching program since we are a nonprofit, but we encourage giving from people employed by organizations with matching.

  • Sally Ehrenfried says:

    Hi Everyone – There seems to be a little confusion in some of the posts above around Blackbaud’s matching gift program and whether we limit matching gifts to certain organizations.

    The answer to this is – we don’t. Our matching gift program is “open” and we match to a wide variety of organizations across our communities. We’re committed to amplifying the giving and volunteering of our colleague through our corporate social responsibility efforts.

    Thanks so much for your interest in this topic and I look forward to sharing more around CSR with you and others.

  • Brandy says:

    We love matching gifts, but never count them until we receive documentation from the company that the donor has filed for the actual match.

  • Jeremiah Pierce says:

    This is great information thank you.

  • Carlene Johnson says:

    Lots of interesting points here.

  • Debbie says:

    Matching gifts are a wonderful bonus for those of us in the non-profit world. I highly recommend (if you haven’t) checking out Double the Donation – their matching gift database is fantastic, we have their widget on our web site and actively encourage matching gifts.

  • joe says:

    I will share this with my colleagues. This may open up some ideas for our institution later on!

  • Denise Covington says:

    Most non-profits are not going to match gifts. This would be a great article to publish for for profit organizations.

  • Christine says:

    Thank you for posting this article. I wish more companies offered matching gift programs.

  • Courtney says:

    This is great info. Thanks for sharing!

  • Julie Lytle says:

    While my company does not do matching gifts, we are a University, I think it is great that so many of our donors companies do. It really makes a great impact on the donor’s initial gift.

  • Sarah says:

    This is interesting though I doubt our organization will ever implement something of this nature

  • John Mercer says:

    I think that this article would help for profit businesses understand how to and how important it is to establish a matching gift program.

  • joann says:

    Angie makes good points. We’re on the receiving end. Not in position to match employee giving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *