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.

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