Matching Gift Acknowledgement

Retain Matching Gift Donors: The Cheat-Sheet (+Examples)

Nonprofits have all recognized the need to thank their donors for the kind support. But is your organization taking the time to thank individuals who submit matching gift requests? Matching gifts are often an overlooked area in fundraising in general, and in donor recognition especially.

Nonprofits thank their donors with the knowledge that a little recognition can go a long way when it comes time for donations the next year. The same applies for matching gifts. If you acknowledge a matching gift, you increase the likelihood of that donor submitting a matching gift in the future.

Acknowledge Your Matching Gift Donors

There are several strategies used to thank donors for their donations all designed around showing your donors that you appreciate their matching gifts.

Check out the following list of ways to acknowledge a matching gift request.

Acknowledgment Letters and Postcards

Many nonprofits use Thank You or Acknowledgment letters to recognize their donors when they make a donation. If the donor submitted the matching gift form at the same time as their donation simply modify the letter you were originally going to send to include a message about their matching gift.

If the matching gift form is submitted by the donor after the donation acknowledgment goes out you’ll want to additionally acknowledge the receipt of the matching gift form. Not only do donors want to know that the form is being processed but it’s an additional opportunity to create a experience without asking for another monetary donation.

Similar to acknowledgement letters, postcards are an effective way to say thanks to donors for submitting a matching gift and can be very cost effective. Here’s a sample matching gift postcard sent out after the matching gift check has actually been received by the organization (often many months after the match was initially submitted).

Sample Matching Gift Postcard sent by the University of Michigan (Front Side)

Matching Gift Postcard

 

Sample Matching Gift Postcard sent by the University of Michigan (Back Side)

Matching Gift Postcard Thank You

Email Recognition

If changing your pre-formatted donor letters is a hassle or you don’t have the funds to send a separate matching gift acknowledment, why not automate the whole process with a dedicated email for matching gift donors? It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Just a few sentences thanking them for submitting a matching gift.

Sample Matching Gift Thank You Email Sent Out By NC State
Matching Gift Thank You Email

Be sure to highlight how important matching gifts are for the organization!

 

Newsletter Recognition Lists

If your organization sends out a regular newsletter consider creating a section where you list the overall financial impact of matching gifts which you’ve received in the last year.

Summary of Matching Gifts Received and the Impact on the Organization

If you want to take it a step further highlight the companies which provided matching gifts as well as the donors who took the time to initiate the matching gifts. This will publicly acknowledge your donors, while simultaneously increasing awareness of matching gifts among your other donors.

Recognizing Donors on Social Media

Does your organization have Twitter or Facebook accounts? Utilize your social media accounts to promote matching gifts by recognizing individuals by name who submit matching gift requests. Not only does this immediately acknowledge your matching gift donors, but it also alerts all your other followers about employee grant programs.

Sample Facebook Post From Halos of Hope Thanking a Donor for Submitting her Matching Gift

Matching Gift Thank You on Facebook

Save time, raise awareness, and increase donations – all with a single tweet or status update.

Microsoft Matching Gift Figures

Matching Gift Ratios and Amounts: How Much Will Companies Match?

You understand the basic concept of matching gifts. You know that in a matching gift program a company will match donations made by employees to a range of nonprofits.

That’s the general definition and a good start. However, in order to succeed in acquiring matched gifts you’ll need to understand the nitty-gritty of the program stipulations.

Well, here is the nitty-gritty!

The amount that a company will match is based on a combination of the matching gift ratios, maximums, and minimums.

Let’s break those three components down based on what we typically see in matching gift programs:

  1. Match Ratio
  2. Maximum Match
  3. Minimum Match

1. Match Ratio

This is a lot easier to understand than it sounds.

Companies determine how much to match for employee donations based on a preset ratio. The majority of companies match donations at a 1:1 ratio, or dollar for dollar.

In the case of a 1:1 ratio, if an employee gives your nonprofit $100 and her employer agrees to match it, you’ll end up with $100 from the company for a total of $200. You’ve doubled your donation!

Although you can expect to see a lot of 1:1 ratios, they can range from .5:1 all the way up to 4:1. Ratios are typically standardized across all employee types, but sometimes a company will stipulate that, for example, part-time employees or retirees or executives will have different match ratios.

For instance:

2. Maximum Match

Maximum matches have quite the range. You’ll see upper limits from $1,000-$15,000 on average, but there are plenty of matches that are outside that scope.

For instance:

3. Minimum Match

Usually, a company will set a donation minimum, meaning that if a donor’s contribution falls below that set amount, the company will not match the gift.  Most commonly, that dollar amount is $25, but it can range from $1-$100.

For instance:


Combine all three of these factors and you’ll be ready to predict what your nonprofit will rake in from those lucrative matching gifts!

Keep reading our additional resources for more matching gift tips and tricks:

  • Matching gift Program FAQs: Have a question about matching gifts you need answered? This article covers some of the most common queries about matched giving.
  • Matching Gift Software Vendors: If you’re an organization looking for tools to market matching gifts or a corporation searching for matching gift management software, this article is for you! We’ve compiled a list of top vendors to help your philanthropy program succeed.
  • Top Matching Gift Companies: Brush up on the top matching gift companies to see how much your organization could raise.
Matching Gift Acknowledgement

The 11 Must-Know Matching Gift Best Practices for Nonprofits

Have you ever been to a movie double feature? They are great. You get in the movie-going mood, take the time out of your busy life to make it to the theater, buy your popcorn, sneak in your candy, splurge on a huge soda, and then settle in for two great films. Oh, and most importantly, you’re only paying for one.

Matching gifts are fundraising double features; for the time and cost of acquiring one donation, you get twice the funding.

Once a donor contributes to your organization, they can submit a request to their company (if they have a program) to have their gift matched. If your nonprofit qualifies, the corporation will send with a check for the same amount or more depending on the company’s matching ratio.

However, just like it takes a bit of extra planning and time management skills to get yourself to a double feature, it will take your team a bit of extra work to secure those matched gifts.

To ensure that your nonprofit maximizes its efforts, we’ve curated a list of the 11 most valuable matching gift best practices:

  1. Study up on matching gifts. 
  2. Appoint a matching gift coordinator. 
  3. Raise awareness about matched giving. 
  4. Collect donor employer details when appropriate. 
  5. Strive for easy accessibility. 
  6. Keep records of the matched gifts through the entire process. 
  7. Thank your donors for submitting a matching gift request. 
  8. Cultivate relationships with donors’ companies. 
  9. Maintain and update your donor records. 
  10. Perform a prospect screening. 
  11. Track and review your progress. 

Follow these tips, lean back in your seat, and watch the credits roll!

1. Study Up on Matching Gifts

Here’s the good news: if you want to learn about matching gifts you will have no issue doing so.

The topic of matching gifts isn’t some incredibly intimidating subject like organic chemistry. Reaching an effective level of working knowledge is certainly possible.

Begin like you would with any subject by reading what you can. Try to build a strong foundation of knowledge, so that when you implement your program you’ll be set to handle obstacles as they arise.

Having a keen sense of matching gifts and what goes into obtaining them will be crucial in planning your program and standardizing your processes.

Learning, for instance, the matching gift guidelines for the three biggest companies in your area would help your team target donors from those companies. Chances are, some of your preexisting donors work at one of those three. Play the odds when picking and choosing when to research specifically and when to stay general.

2. Appoint a Matching Gift Coordinator

In the ideal situation, everyone on your organization’s team will be well-versed in matching gift programs. However, by appointing an expert to lead your team, you’ll have the time and resources to implement matching gifts into your overall strategy.

Your nonprofit will be better served hiring a matching gift coordinator than it would be having your whole staff know just a few facts about matching gifts. The coordinator is the expert, and the rest of your employees should know enough to field the questions that they can and pass along the rest.

The coordinator is the designated point-person for all matching gift queries and problems, as well as the staffer in charge of seeing the donations through until the end.

Your coordinator will be able to keep your various departments in the loop about what’s going on and need-to-know information.

All staff should be promoting matching gifts when relevant, but the matching gift coordinator will be the coach leading your team to victory.

If your organization wants advice when hiring a matching gift coordinator, why not consider hiring an executive search firm? The consultants can help you craft the perfect job description and lead you through the entire hiring process.

What if you don’t have the funds or employee base to designate a matching gifts coordinator?

Set aside some time and have a team do the research and put together matching gift materials including:

  • Educational packets
  • Letter templates
  • Newsletter copy
  • Answers to FAQs
  • Fast facts

With these resources, and resources like them, any member of your team should be prepared to handle most matching gift occurrences and problems.

3. Raise Awareness About Matching Giving

Once you have a solid understanding of matching gifts and an idea of how the process will work internally, it is time to spread the word. People need to know about matching gifts before they can request them.

No need to be coy at this point, the goal is mass awareness. Think like Paul Revere. The British may not be coming, but matching gifts are.

Lucky for everyone, technology has drastically improved since Revere’s days, so nonprofits now have plenty of ways to promote matching gifts.

Put matching gifts on your ‘ways to give’ page, like Girls Scouts of Greater Atlanta did:

Matching Gifts Featured on Ways to Give

Create a dedicated matching gift page, like the ASPCA did:

Dedicated Matching Gift Page

Outline matching gifts in an email newsletter, like CMTA did:

Matching Gift Newsletter

These are just three of many, many options. Get creative.

Matching gift promotion should span all of your communication platforms. Diversify your marketing so that it can reach a diverse audience of donors.

Note

Become a Matching Gift Expert! Grab our Free Ultimate Guide to Matching Gifts.

4. Collect Donor Employer Details When Appropriate

Part of your educational materials for donors will give them access to determine if their companies have matching gift programs, but if your staff is able to readily see the employer of any given donor in your database, they can then go the extra mile to obtain that donation.

A major gift donor who works for a company with a generous matching gift program can make a huge difference in a nonprofit’s annual budget.

You also don’t want to waste the time of your employees.

Knowing the companies donors work for will help you segment out matching gift prospects.

If you are promoting on, say, email, zeroing in on only the prospects with the most potential wouldn’t make sense. What about a calling campaign, though? Staff won’t have time to call all donors and prospects. That’s where employer info can make a world of difference.

5. Strive for Easy Accessibility

For a donor, securing a matching gift is an easy process that has the misfortune of sounding complicated. Brand it better.

Clear and concise language, with easy to understand directions will make your donors much more likely to seek out matching gifts. Donors who have already been kind enough to donate should not have to follow-up with a bunch more work.

 You can:

  1. List the typical steps involved in the process on your dedicated page
  2. Insert a matching gift widget that can help the donor search for her company’s program
  3. Send out informational mailed materials
  4. Highlight key matching gift statistics
  5. Point out a few of the companies that commonly match gifts for your nonprofit and detail those programs

Ensure that your nonprofit is a one-stop shop for all things matching gift.

6. Keep Records of the Matched Gifts Through the Entire Process

This task will usually fall under the matching gift coordinator’s jurisdiction.

Essentially, you’ll want to know what requests have been made, when they are processed, and when they have been fulfilled.

Keeping accurate records will guarantee that no attempted matching gifts slip through the cracks. There can be a lot of moving parts in the process among the donor, donor’s employer, and the nonprofit, and there will be some level of back-and-forth.

A clear trail of what has happened and what needs to happen will make interactions a lot easier and lot more efficient.

The more standardized and systematic the process you use is, the better the results will be.

7. Thank Your Donors for Submitting a Matching Gift Request

Donors involved with matching gifts have gone the extra mile for your cause. Your thank you should reflect that.

Just like matching gifts have doubled your donations, matching gift thank yous should be double as well. Thank once for the initial donation and a second time when the matched gift goes through.

You might want to put together a special event to honor matching gift donors. The goal is to show genuine gratitude towards what they’ve done to help, but something like a special event will also promote the program to those who are unaware of it.

If you don’t have the resources for an entire event, try publicly thanking those involved on social media.

Social media is a great place to promote matching gifts, but it is also a top outlet for acknowledgment. A strategic Facebook post can kill two birds with one stone by thanking a matching gift donor while getting the idea of matching gifts into the heads of your Facebook community.

Find a way to demonstrate your gratitude and ensure that the donors feel appreciated.

8. Cultivate Relationships with Donors’ Companies

You should also consider thanking your donors’ companies. The donor has brought the company to you, so make sure you’re taking your open shots.

Matching gifts can provide a much-desired introduction to major corporations with top-notch corporate giving.

When an employee asks her company to match her gift, by nature of the process the company will be exposed to your nonprofit. If you want to foster a new relationship, your nonprofit is going to have to impress the company.

By having all of your matching gifts ducks in a row, your staff can focus on building those corporate relationships, instead of troubleshooting submission issues.

9. Maintain Your Donor Records

A disorganized and dysfunctional donor database is really going to hold your fundraisers back when it comes to matching gifts.

With out-of-date information, your staff has no chance of making a real go of acquiring matching gifts.

You could send out mailers with blanks for donors to fill-in any changes to their personal details.

Once the information is in your system, your next move is going to be making sure those who need it can find it. Having data stored in such a manner that only one senior team member can even find it does your organization no good.

10. Perform a Prospect Screening

If you’re looking for donors with large capacities to donate and great matching gift programs, prospect screenings are going to be a big help.

A major insight prospect research can provide is the list of business affiliations of potential donors, like where they work and where their spouses work. If a donor’s spouse works for a major matching gift company, your donor will often qualify for those donations as well.

Matching gift participation rates can vary from 3% to 65% based on how much the individual companies promote their programs. With the knowledge derived from prospect screening, you’ll be able to take a well-prepared approach to finding matching gift donors.

11. Track and Review Your Progress

Students earn grades and receive progress reports. Professional athletes watch game tape and practice all week long. No one can get better without locating weaknesses and focusing on changing them.

This rule applies to matching gifts as well. An established system designed with achievement assessment in mind is a valuable asset.

So that you can properly grade your program track:

  • The matching gift money raised in previous years
  • The matching gift money raised in the time following your program’s inception
  • Your top matching gift employer
  • The costs and time it takes to acquire the gifts
  • The percentage of your total revenue that matching gifts account for

Simply advocating for matching gifts won’t be enough to run a successful program. Tracking data and looking at results is the best way to know how your nonprofit is doing and what its areas of improvement are.


Corporate giving programs are out there for the taking. Major corporations like GE and Microsoft have some of the best matching gift programs in the world.

Institute these matching gifts best practices and get ready for the second movie to start.

For more matching gift advice, check out these additional resources: 

  • Marketing Matching Gifts: Want more ways to promote matching gifts. This guide takes you through several ideas on how your organization can best market matching gifts.
  • Ultimate Guide to Major Gifts: Like we mentioned earlier, encouraging major donors to submit matching gifts can add even more money to your annual fund. Learn the ins and outs of major donors with this helpful guide.
  • Matching Gift Database: If you want more information on matching gift programs, take a look at Double the Donation’s matching gift database.


Microsoft Matching Gift Figures

Matching Gift Eligibility: Which Nonprofits Qualify?

Matching gifts are a goldmine for nonprofits, but there are some limitations on organization eligibility.

It is crucial that you know where your organization stands in terms of eligibility before seeking out matching gifts. If your organization doesn’t qualify, all of your effort is futile.

Since program standards vary company to company, there are no universal guidelines — you cannot know your eligibility for all matching gift programs. However, you can equip yourself with an understanding of the big picture eligibility standards and common exemptions.

Fortunately, we’ve outlined those standards for you here and answered the question:

What are the restrictions for the types of organizations eligible to receive employee matching gift funds?

1st) Most corporate giving programs match to educational institutions and various types of 501(c)(3) organizations, which are typically categorized as:

  • Higher Education — schools offering at least a two-year program of college level studies,„ schools or colleges within a university that conduct their own fundraising efforts (such as law or medical schools), seminaries and theological schools, alumni funds, foundations, etc.
  • K-12 Education — public or accredited private kindergarten through high schools, foundations established by the school districts to fund one or more eligible schools, etc.
  • Arts and Cultural Organizations — aquariums, libraries, museums, orchestras, public broadcasting stations, etc.
  • Community Based Social Services — animal shelters, child welfare, homeless shelters, low-income assistance, etc.
  • Environmental Organizations — conservation efforts, wildlife preservation, etc.
  • Healthcare Based Organizations — healthcare services, hospitals, substance abuse programs, etc.

Approximately 2/3 of companies with matching gift programs will match to an organization that fits into any one of those categories.

For the remaining 1/3, those companies will usually match for one or a select few from the above categories.

For example, ExxonMobil focuses its matching gift efforts on two programs: the “Educational Matching Gift Program” and the “Cultural Matching Gift Program.”

2nd) While most 501(c)(3) organizations and educational nonprofits are eligible for matching gifts from a vast array of companies, there are a few common restrictions, which include:

  1. Political Organizations
  2. Sports Teams
  3. Religious Organizations

Houses of worship such as churches and synagogues are often times restricted, but many faith-based organizations with major community outreach components such as food banks, job training, or homeless shelters are matching gift eligible.

Learn more about matching gift eligibility for religious organizations.


With this outline, you should have a good idea of your organization’s place in the matching gift world. Remember, these are just the standard practices, and there are certainly exceptions.

Find out more about matching gifts with these additional resources: 

  • 8 Corporate Matching Gift Questions: Ever wanted know the average matching gift rate or how to create your own matching gift program? If you’re a corporation looking into matching gifts, this guide has all the answers you need.
  • Matching Gift Software Vendors: Organizations looking to boost their matching gift outreach should look into management software specifically made for corporate philanthropy. Our list of tools can help start your search on the right foot.
  • Matching Gifts Ultimate Guide: Want to learn more about matching gifts? Our comprehensive guide will help your nonprofit understand matched giving and how to promote it.
Matching Gift Requests

It’s Never Too Late for Donors to Submit Matching Gift Requests

Are you just jumping on the matching gift bandwagon? Worried about having to build a program from the ground up with all new donations?

Fear not, many of your past donors are still eligible for matched gifts.

Matching gifts don’t have to be submitted immediately after the donation is made. Although, it is to your benefit to encourage your donors to make the request as soon as possible because:

  1. The farther from the donation a supporter gets, the less likely he will be to follow-up with a matched gift
  2. The sooner your nonprofit receives the extra funds, the sooner it can put those funds to good use

Matching gift deadlines vary by company, so there’s still time to promote matching gifts to donors who contributed to your organization this year.

Donors simply have to fill out and submit their employer’s matching gift request forms.

Matching gift deadlines typically fall under one of three types:

  1. Within a set number of months — A company will stipulate that it will match a gift up to, for example, 3, 6, or 12 months following the initial donation.
  2. By the end of the calendar year — This option is fairly straightforward.  Employees must submit for a match within the calendar year of the donation.
  3. By the end of the calendar year with an extended grace period — In this instance, a company will grant matched gifts through the end of the calendar year and then tack on an additional month or two for employees to submit their matching gift requests.  Standard extensions go through end of January, February, or March, but rarely go past the 31st of March.

To get a better understanding what the guidelines look like in practice, let’s look at some examples.

 

Deadline #1: Within a Set Number of Months

While most companies allow donations to be submitted far after the date a donation was made, deadlines do vary. Some major companies have much more time sensitive deadlines for their matching gift programs.

Here are four companies with matching gift submission deadlines ranging from 30 days to 365 days from the donation date:

 

Adobe

Adobe Matching GiftsAdobe offers a matching gift program wherein the company matches donations up to $10,000 per employee per year. Employees are also able to submit grant requests for $250 for every 10 hours they volunteer with a nonprofit.

The company offers an easy to use online portal for employees to submit their matching gift requests and to log their volunteer hours.

Match request deadline: All matching gift requests must be submitted by employees within one year of the donation date.

Click here for additional details on Adobe’s matching gift program.

 

DirectTV

DirectTV matches donations of up to $20,000 per DIRECTV Matching Giftsemployee per a year and provides grants of $10 per hour (max $250) volunteered by an employee. DirectTV has an easy to use online submission process for both programs.

Match request deadline: All matching gift requests must be submitted by employees within six months of the donation date.

Click here for additional details on DirecTV’s matching gift program.

 

AltriaAltria Matches Donations from Employees

Altria offers a generous matching gift program (up to 30K annually per Altria employee) as well as large volunteer grants ($500 after 25 hours of volunteering).

Match request deadline: All matching gift requests must be received by Altria’s program administrator within 90 days from the date of the gift.

Click here for additional details on Altria’s matching gift program.

 

Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae's Matching Gift Program

Fannie Mae matches employee donations up to $5,000 annually and offers grants when employees volunteer. Unfortunately some organizations miss out on this funding since they aren’t ensuring donors submit matching gift requests in a timely manner.

Match request deadline: Fannie Mae donors and volunteers must submit a matching gift request within 30 days of the date of the donation, or by December 31st of each year, whichever is sooner.

Click here for additional details on Fannie Mae’s matching gift program.

 

Deadline #2: End of Calendar Year

Many companies ask that employees submit their match requests in a timely manner but will still match donations made in a calendar year until December 31st of that year.

Here are a few examples:

Aetna

Aetna Matching Gift ProgramAetna matches donations from employees and retirees up to $5,000 per individual per year. Aetna also enables employees to allocate a $300 grant to a nonprofit after they volunteer for 20 hours in year.

Match request deadline: Employees are encouraged to submit the matching gift request as soon as possible, but have until December 31st to submit their matching gift requests.

Click here for additional details on Aetna’s matching gift program.

 

Freeport-McMoRan

Freeport McMoRan Matching GiftsFreeport-McMoRan matches donations of up to $40,000 per employee per year to a wide range of nonprofits. The first $1,000 donated is matched at a 2:1 rate. Anything above $1,000 is matched at a dollar for dollar rate.

Match request deadline: While Freeport-McMoRan encourages employees to submit matching donation requests at the time of the initial donation, employees can submit matches until Dec. 31st of the year following the date of the donation.

Click here for additional details on Freeport-McMoRan’s matching gift program.

 

Deadline #3: End of Calendar Year + Grace Period

Matching Gift Deadlines with Grace Periods

Boeing

Boeing offers a monetary match, a volunteer grant match, and a grant when employees participate in a fundraising event such as a walk or run for a cause. The deadlines for all three of Boeing’s employee giving programs are as follows:

Employee deadline: Boeing employees must submit gift match requests no later than January 31st of the year following the contribution / participation.

Nonprofit deadline: Organizations must verify the employee submission request no later than April 15th of the year following the contribution / participation.

Click here for additional details on Boeing’s matching gift program.

 

VerizonVerizon Matches Donations from Employees

Verizon matches donations up to $5,000 annually to educational institutions and up to $1,000 annually to all other nonprofits.

The Verizon Foundation also provides grants of $750 to organizations where an employee volunteers for at least 50 hours in a calendar year.

Employee deadline: Matching gift requests must be entered into the electronic matching gift system before March 31st of the year following the date of the donation.

Organization deadline: Organizations must also confirm the donation request by March 31st.

Click here for additional details on Verizon’s matching gift program.

 

Bank of America / Merrill LynchBank of America Matches Donations

Bank of America (including Merrill Lynch) matches employee donations to nearly all nonprofits. The company also provides grants when employees volunteer on a regular basis.

Employee deadline: Employees must complete an application and have the recipient organization verify the gift. This information must be received by March 31st of the year following the date of the donation.

Organization deadline: Organizations must verify donations by May 15th of the year following the date of the donation.

Click here for additional details on Bank of America’s matching gift program.

 

MeadWestvacoMeadWestVaco Match Donations

MeadWestvaco offers multiple types of employee giving programs.

MeadWestvaco matches all donations to educational institutions, provides grants when employees volunteer, and matches donations to all organizations when employees are volunteer leaders with the organization.

Employee deadline: MeadWestvaco employees must submit their portion of the matching gift request form by March 31st of the year following when the donation was made.

Organization deadline: Organizations also have until March 31st of the year following when the donation was made to verify the donation and submit the completed match request.

Click here for additional details on MeadWestvaco’s matching gift program.