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GuideStar Articles Matching Gifts

Reader Question: Submitting match requests for non-personal donations

Although Double the Donation doesn’t administer match programs for any corporations, as experts in the space we’re regularly approached with general matching gift questions. Here’s a question we’ve heard from both individual nonprofits as well as individual donors.

Question Regarding Matches on Non-Personal Donations:

Question from nonprofits:
My organization has donors who work at companies with large matching gift limits. Can we funnel donations through these employees to make sure all of the donations are getting matched?

Question from individuals:
I work for a company which doesn’t have a matching gift program. But my friend Sally’s employer matches donations. Can I give her my money and have her make a donation?

Double the Donation’s Answer:

While we understand the desire to maximize donations from matching gift programs, we strongly recommend that donors only take advantage of their own employers’ match programs. A few reasons include:

Stick with the Spirit of Corporate Match Programs:

At Double the Donation, we track and stay in touch with companies with matching gift programs. In almost all cases, company guidelines specifically state something along the lines of “Gifts must be personal contributions paid either in cash or securities.” Although we don’t administer match programs for any companies, the match benefits are usually designed for personal contributions from individuals working at a specific company.

Thus it’s quite clear that from a corporate standpoint, passing donations through a supporter who works for a matching gift company is definitely frowned upon.

We hope the nonprofit community recognizes that matching grant programs are generous benefits offered by companies to support organizations which employees personally give to. They’re also completely optional programs so we hope everyone utilizes them in the spirit for which they were designed.

Avoid Potential Fraud:

Whenever a matching gift request is submitted, the employee has to sign the form indicating that the donation for which a match is being requested adheres to the company’s guidelines. Additionally whenever a nonprofit verifies a donation, the nonprofit employee confirming the donation is also signing that he or she agrees the donation meets the company’s guidelines.

While we certainly aren’t legal experts, there’s a strong chance that both the employee and the nonprofit would be be committing some sort of fraud by submitting or verifying matches which aren’t eligible to be matched. Doing so could put the employee’s job at risk while also jeopardizing the nonprofit’s eligibility for future matches and grants.

Risk Tax Implications:

Again, we aren’t legal experts, but there are certainly tax implications. For instance, who gets to claim the charitable tax deduction on the original donation? Was it the individual who gave his or her money to a friend to donate or was it the actual donor who submitted the match request?

We hope you won’t get to this point of having to figure out the tax implications, but figured we highlight it as a potential pitfall.

General Thoughts:

We always encourage organizations to stick to the spirit of the match programs. If a specific program is designed for an individual employee’s personal use, we recommend that the employee and benefiting nonprofit not try to game the system. While we’re sure the above isn’t the answer that most individuals and nonprofits want to hear, we hope it’s informative.

That being said, there are a number of companies (ex. Intuit, State Street Capital, McAfee, and others) that match the fundraising efforts of employees. These are some of the most generous employee giving programs so organizations should definitely look into them.

Learn more about companies which match fundraising efforts of employees.