Corporate Matching Gift Programs: The Basics
Six common questions about matching gift programs
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What are corporate matching gift programs?
Matching gift programs are charitable giving programs set up by corporations in which the company matches donations made by employees to eligible nonprofit organizations.
For example, if a donor works for Bank of America and donates $250 to a K-12 school, university, or 501(c)(3) organization, Bank of America will "double the donation" by writing a check for $250 to the same organization.
Why should nonprofits focus on matching gifts?
Matching gifts are a source of free money that's often overlooked by nonprofit organizations. If your organization is like most, every dollar counts, so make sure you're maximizing donations from all available sources of fundraising.
You've already done the hard part – attracting donors and members. Don't let the additional funding from these corporate donations go untapped!
Tracking and conveying matching gift information to donors can be a challenge for a single nonprofit so consider subscribing to a matching gift service (like Double the Donation).
How many companies match employee donations?
Matching gift programs are offered by companies across the world. In fact, about 65% of Fortune 500 companies (and many others) match employee donations.
That means millions of individuals work for companies that match donations from employees.
Although corporations don't always release specific figures, top contributors in 2012 include Microsoft (more than $48 million) and GE (more than $37 million).
Which companies offer the best matching gift programs?
Defining the "best matching gift programs" is a challenge and varies for each organization. Double the Donation's team recently evaluated all of the programs we track to come up with 10 companies which stand out from the rest. To do so, we considered each company's geographic footprint, eligibility requirements (full time vs. part time vs. retirees), matching ratio, annual limits, and the eligibility of different nonprofits.
2013 top matching companies are:
Are there restrictions on the types of organizations eligible to receive employee matching gift funds?
Almost all companies with donation matching programs match to educational institutions, while the majority match to many types of 501(c)(3) organizations. These are often categorized as:
- Healthcare based organizations (ex. hospitals, substance abuse programs, healthcare services, medical research, etc.)
- Arts and cultural organizations (ex. aquariums, museums, libraries, orchestras, public broadcasting stations, etc.)
- Environmental organizations (ex. conservation efforts, wildlife preservation, etc.)
- Community based social services (ex. homeless shelters, child welfare, animal shelters, low-income assistance, etc.)
Although most 501(c)(3) organizations and educational nonprofits are eligible for matching gift programs from a wide variety of companies, there are a few common restrictions. These often include:
- Political organizations
- Sports teams
- Religious organizations such as churches and synagogues
Note: Faith based organizations focused on community outreach are typically eligible.
Why are matching gifts typically overlooked by development staff and organizations?
Unfortunately, it's tough to take advantage of all of the matching gift money that's available due to a number of barriers including:
- Limited information on where your donors or their spouses work
- A lack of knowledge around employee giving programs at countless companies
- Challenges with communicating the appropriate match process, guidelines, and steps so your donors can complete the matching gift requests on their own
Given these obstacles, it's not a surprise that much of the available money goes untapped. If you're looking to increase matching donations, check out Double the Donation's matching gift service. We can help you raise more money from corporate employee giving programs.
What steps should organizations take to increase fundraising from matching gift programs?
Even your most dedicated and passionate donors don't always submit their employee matching gift requests. Outside of the fundraising community, you'd be surprised by how few people have ever heard of matching gift programs. Even more importantly, they're rarely aware of whether their employer, or their spouse's employer, offers a program.
The key is to prompt donors to submit their matching gift form and make it as easy as possible. Make sure you're promoting matching gifts using multiple marketing strategies. If your donors are already passionate enough to open up their wallets, they'll be happy to invest a few extra minutes to double their donations if you make it simple for them.
One key to successfully increasing matching gift revenue is to ensure everyone on your development, membership, and operation teams promotes this source of fundraising. Additional corporate giving money is available to organizations if everyone commits to raising awareness and effectively communicates the benefits of matching gift programs to donors.