Nonprofit Leadership Traits

Matching Gifts for Gala Tickets and Special Fundraising Events

Does your organization host a fundraising gala or special event? If so have you ever wondered whether the tickets and donations made during that event are eligible for matching gift programs?

We recently received an email from a woman named Sheila wondering whether individuals can apply for matching gifts from their employers for money donated through special fundraising events. Her question was as follows:

One of my organization’s fundraising events involves selling tiles and allowing parents and their children to decorate the tiles. We then affix the tiles to a wall as a way to display the artwork and recognize our donors. Is the purchase price of the tile eligible for corporate matching gift programs?

While this specific question may appear unique, many organizations raise funds in similar ways.

Donations at Annual Fundraising Galas and Special Events:

  • The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association gives individuals an opportunity to name a Zoo resident. For donations of between $1,000-$50,000, you can name an animal, receive recognition in the zoo publication, receive a photo of you with the animal, and get a VIP tour.
  • The Atlanta Botanical Garden has its Garden of Eden Gala, the Garden’s largest annual fund-raiser. Tickets range in price from a few hundred dollars to $25,000 to be the presenting sponsor. Benefits include tickets to the Ball, a Patron Party, and much more.
  • New York Collaborates for Autism hosts its annual “Night of Too Many Stars”. Celebrities such as Jon Stewart, Katie Perry, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Seth Rogan, and many others auction off once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to hang out with a celebrity. For instance, becoming “best friends with Amy Poehler & Tina Fey” for an evening was auctioned for thousands of dollars.

Looking to host your own charity auction? Check out these great platforms.

Are these Donations Match Eligible?

It may surprise you, but many companies with matching gift programs will match these donations!

Why there’s confusion: If you or your donors look at many matching gift forms you may notice a sentence along the lines of “the Corporation will not match tickets or subscriptions.” So if your organization is a symphony selling a concert ticket or a science museum selling an IMAX ticket, companies won’t match the ticket price.

The reason for this is that donors are receiving a tangible benefit that would be charged by other for-profit organizations. For instance, an IMAX movie could be compared to a regular movie ticket and the symphony could be compared to a sporting ticket.

But why are gala tickets and special event tickets often eligible?

If you look at the fine print on many nonprofits’ special event tickets you’ll notice that it mentions a tax deductible amount for each ticket. For example a ticket to the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden of Eden Gala was $475 but amounts exceeding $200.00 per Ball ticket and $50 per Patron Party were eligible for a charitable income tax deduction.

We wrote an entire article on calculating the tax deductible matching gift value but in general at galas you must subtract the cost of a similar meal and any gifts that guests may receive.

Bottom Line on Getting Gala Tickets Matched: A significant percentage of a gala ticket’s purchase price is tax deductible and is often eligible to be matched by an employee’s company but corporate guidelines do vary by company.

Promoting Matching Gift Programs at Galas:

Unfortunately for organizations it’s less common to receive employee matching gifts for galas and special events than regular donations or annual fund contributions. As with all donations, you have to raise awareness and make it easy for donors to submit matching gift requests, but there’s an extra component when it comes to galas and special events.

Even if an individual knows about his or her company’s matching gift program, they rarely realize a portion of the ticket is tax deductible and often match eligible. Thus you need to promote this fact.

Matching Gifts for Fundraising Events:

One big fundraising opportunity is to take advantage of corporate match programs where companies match the fundraising efforts of its employees. Yes you heard that right — some companies have programs in place where if their employees go out and fundraise for your cause then the company will match the entire amount up to a certain limit.

These companies include:

  1. Intuit
  2. McAfee
  3. British Petroleum
  4. State Street

Learn more about fundraising match programs.

Five Easy Ways a Nonprofit can Promote Matching Gifts to Special Event Attendees:

  1. Include the tax deductible amount on the ticket with a line such as “Did you know $XXXX of your ticket is tax deductible? If your employer offers a matching gift program it may be eligible to be matched.”
  2. If you subscribe to Double the Donation’s matching gift service, consider setting up a computer with your organization’s matching gift webpage up and easily accessible by donors.
  3. Does your organization manage a payment station at the Gala where donors go and pay for auction items? Make sure your staff ask if the individual or his or her spouse works for a company with a matching gift program.
  4. Do you provide donors with an acknowledgement letter after they buy a ticket or make an additional donation? If so, this is a great time to encourage donors to see if their employer or their spouse’s employer offers a matching gift program.

And of course make sure to review our list of top ways to promote employee matching gifts year-round.

Nonprofit and Corporate Relationships Matching Gifts

Leverage Matching Gifts to Strengthen Nonprofit-Corporate Relationships

We recently had a reader ask Double the Donation about how to strengthen relationships with corporations that offer generous matching gift contributions to their organization. She said she wished she had more ways to reach out to these companies post-matching gift donation to show them how a strong relationship could provide some great public relations benefits.

This is a great point! When corporations offer matching gift donations to a nonprofit organization, they may not realize how positive of an impact the contributions are having on the work of the nonprofit. It’s important for nonprofits to leverage matching gifts into positive PR for both you and the corporation to ensure future collaboration, and therefore, a stronger nonprofit-corporate relationship.

Suggestions of “Extra Thanks” for Generous Matching Gift Donations

Does your organization have one corporation in particular (or even a few!) that really stands out in the field of matching gift donations? It’s important that this company knows how big of an impact they are having on the work you do, and sometimes a simple, albeit wonderful, acknowledgement letter (that acts as a tax-deductible receipt, too) is not going to emphasize your thanks enough. So, what else can you do?

Press Releases

A simple and highly visible form of extra thanks is a press release to local publications. This could include information about the circumstances of the donation, how big of a matching gift partner they are (if, for example, you have many donors who work for one company that offers matching gifts on a recurring basis), and the kind of programs and nonprofit work the donations help progress.

And don’t forget to highlight the company on your own website. It’s not only positive publicity for the company but also encourages your other donors to see if their employers will match their donations.

The important thing here is that the company or companies providing matching gifts to your nonprofit organization are getting a public, positive recognition for the donations they make. They are more likely to donate in other capacities in the future, as well, when they see the kind of public acknowledgement they can get by donating to your organization.

Social Media

This one is seemingly a no-brainer, but it’s always amazing what kind of far-reaching impacts a Facebook or Twitter post can have on relationships. By thanking a corporation for their generosity with matching gifts and including the positive impact they are having on the community, your nonprofit is taking an extra (and again, simple) step to show the company and the public how thankful you are for their commitment to the cause.

Here’s a sample thank you post from the Children’s Craniofacial Association:

Thanks for the Matching Gifts

In case you can’t read the text on the image it says

It’s #ThankfulThursday & CCA thanks @Corning Inc. for the Foundation Matching Gifts Program, doubling employee donations to CCA!

It was retweeted four times and favorited six times, including from the main Corning account.

Donation Page Acknowledgements

On your website’s donation pages, you could include information about some of the benefits of matching gifts (for your donors), and also mention some of the top-giving companies in the area. This shows many donors the commitment of their employers to the community, which in turn increases the chances an individual will donate to your cause and also ask their company for a matching gift. Increasing the number of eyes that see a corporation’s name in a positive light also increases the likelihood of forming a stronger relationship with a company. Positive PR for a company (by a nonprofit organization) is a huge key for ensuring future collaboration.

Event Recognition

This is another easy way to recognize some of the major community players in the matching gift arena. Even if these companies are not sponsoring your charitable event, just mentioning the impact they are having on the work you do (without outshining the actual corporate sponsors, of course) is going to make a difference. Every company wants a positive image in the community because this increases their like-ability, and therefore their success. When your nonprofit organization is a key factor in increasing their success, the bond between the two will be stronger than ever.

Creating a Stronger Relationship

The above suggestions are just a few extra ways to say thanks to the corporations who have a strong commitment to matching gift donations. When a company sees the effort your nonprofit organization is putting forth to thank them for their generosity, it increases the chances of future giving, whether it’s with more matching gifts, grants, or even some form of sponsorship.

Make sure you’re saying thank you – it really can make all the difference!