increasing donor retention through matching gifts

How Nonprofits Can Use Matching Gifts to Improve Donor Retention

In recent years, donor retention rates have been hovering slightly above 40%. This means that if you have 100 donors, roughly 60 of them are only making one-time donations. If the focus on donor retention isn’t strong and comprehensive, a nonprofit organization will need to concentrate on acquisition of new donors instead, an importantly vital but often more costly pursuit.

There are numerous ways to boost donor retention ranging from simply interacting with donors more to utilizing social media. However, did you know you can also improve donor retention by using matching gift programs.

Why is Donor Retention Important?

When a donor continues to give to your nonprofit, the most obvious benefit is the regular extra revenue.

However, keeping donors coming back has additional rewards:

  • Your organization can build meaningful relationships with donors that continue to give. It’s difficult to cultivate a friendship if you only meet someone once. The same principle applies to the relationship between nonprofits and donors. If a donor continues to donate, it’s a perfect opportunity for the organization to ask him or her to serve on a board, volunteer at an event, or act in some other capacity for the nonprofit.
  • When donors become more involved with your organization, they’re more likely to tell friends and family about their experiences. This word of mouth advertising has the potential to generate new donors at virtually no cost.
  • Once you’ve established a meaningful relationship with donors, you can use their experiences with your nonprofit to obtain useful feedback from them. Their comments can be used to improve your relationships with both new and existing donors.

For general donor retention tips, check out this ultimate guide.

Matching Gifts and Donor Retention Benefits

While there is a surplus of useful donor retention advice out there, it is worthwhile to note the mutually beneficial union that results from putting matching gifts and donor retention together.

1. Shows that your nonprofit is a good steward of donors’ funds.

Donors that will stick with your nonprofit for the longterm want to know that your organization is maximizing their donations.

Promoting matching gift programs will let them know that you are doing just that.

2. Helps keep your organization at the front of donors’ minds.

Sending out communications about matching gifts to dedicated donors, whether through email, snail mail, or social media, will help them stay involved with your organization without feeling pressured to donate more of their own money. If you only ever talk to your donors when you want their donations, they’re more likely to stop contributing to your organization.

However, telling them about matching gift programs either during the donation process or directly after in a thank-you email will let them know that you want to help make their donations go further.

3. Results in larger future donations.

When nonprofits mentioned matching gifts when asking for donations, response rates jumped 71% and average donation amounts increased by over 50%.

Letting donors know that they can make a greater impact with their donations generates a higher response to future appeals and results in larger contributions.

Tips for using Matching Gifts to Increase Donor Retention

The following recommendations can be helpful for boosting donor retention using matching gifts.

1. Send a matching gift appeal immediately after a donor makes a donation.

If you don’t know who your donor’s employer is, supply them with general information about matching gifts after they’ve made a donation either in an acknowledgement or a thank you email.

If you have done your homework and know where your donor works (and more importantly, if their employer offers a matching gift program of some kind), give them company-specific information.

You can offer general guidelines or give more explicit directions like where to find matching gift forms. This is particularly important if your donors work for major gift matching companies.

Getting in touch with donors in the form of a thank-you email that also informs them of matching gifts immediately after they’ve donated is a great way to have a positive interaction with donors. You’re helping them maximize their donation and keeping in touch with them at the same time.

The Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation keeps their thank you emails genuine and informative, but they also let donors know about matching gift programs. They even thank donors in advance for looking into matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

Thank you email featuring corporate matching gift programs

Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation


2. Let donors know when their company’s matching gift came in.

Depending on how fast the donor’s company processed the gift-matching paperwork and sent the money to your organization, it could be weeks or months until the donor’s matching gift comes in. They might have forgotten about it by that point. Letting them know that their matching gift was received is another great way to reestablish contact with a donor, potentially encouraging them to donate in the future.

North Carolina State sends out emails to donors, thanking them for their initial donation and also informing them that their matching gift was received.

NC State Matching Gift Thank You Email

NC State Matching Gift Thank You Email

Notice too that the email ends with “NC State greatly appreciates your continuous support.” A final statement like this can help encourage donors to stick around and continue to donate.

3. Inform donors about matching gift statistics.

Whether it’s at the end of the month or at the end of the year, letting donors know how much you’ve raised because of matching gifts is not only a good way of keeping them in the loop but it also encourages future donations.

Halos of Hope uses Facebook to let donors know about how their donations and matching gifts are making an impact. Not only does the post highlight Shari, it also lets followers know about matching gift programs and suggests donors ask their employers about them. Because Shari and others who follow the Halos of Hope Facebook page now know more about how their donations are being matched, they’re more likely to contribute in the future using matching gift programs to double, or in Shari’s case, triple their donation.

Halos of Hope Matching Gift Thank You on Facebook

Halos of Hope Matching Gift Thank You on Facebook

Determining how much money your organization raised from matching gifts and how many donors used matching gift programs will also help your nonprofit establish goals for matching gift donations as well as let donors know what kind of impact their donations are making.

Whichever method you use to let donors know about your matching gift statistics, it’s key to include information about current and future projects. Keeping donors updated on what their donations are funding establishes a personal connection, increasing donor retention.

Check out these other helpful ways to boost donor retention.

Making sure that donors stick around can be tricky, but using matching gift programs to maximize donations can help donor retention rates at your nonprofit.

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