What should your dedicated team be doing? Marketing matching gifts, of course, which all starts with planning, and might be best executed via word of mouth.
Develop Your Matching Gift Plan
Once you have a matching gift team in place, here’s a visual model of the sort of streamlined process that you’ll want to follow:
Baseline Current Revenue and Determine Information to Provide to Donors
It’s amazing how few organizations know how much they raise from matching gifts on an annual basis, so don’t worry if your organization also struggles to baseline current matching gift revenue.
The data tracking portion of this process goes hand in hand with determining your budget and can feel equally as burdensome, so here’s a sample chart to give you an idea of the types of information that you should record to track your nonprofit’s performance:
This data can be shared with donors to encourage matching gift donations, but also use this information to determine a budget for marketing matching gifts. Once you know how much artillery will be at your disposal you can determine what information you’d like to share with donors. Do you simply want to inform donors that matching gift programs exist? Do you want to educate them on exactly what matching gift programs are? Would you like donors to know how matching gifts provide necessary additional funds for specific company initiatives?
Evaluate Marketing Opportunities
Once you have your budget and information together it’s time to evaluate the best marketing opportunities. Would an email campaign get the job done without breaking the bank? Do your particular donors respond better to direct mail? Perhaps you have a tech savvy audience who enjoys social media. You want to accord your available budget and information to the marketing channels that will best serve your nonprofit.
Whether you’re sending emails, making phone calls, or mailing letters, don’t forget word of mouth. In this modern world, actually talking to people, whether by phone or face-to-face, can get overlooked, but, as you’ll see, no one trusts a review quite like one from a trusted, personal source.
Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and all forms of product review sites exist, but word of mouth remains the most trusted form of marketing in the business. For example, imagine that a potential donor is debating what nonprofit to donate to. She’s done a ton of online research, and she thinks that she’s found the right cause, but it’s hard to feel 100% confident when there are so many worthwhile nonprofits. Then a friend comes to her and attests to the awesome work of a nonprofit for which he volunteers. Will she donate to the nonprofit she researched or the one that her friend knows about firsthand and can tell her about in great detail? The research says that she’ll trust her friend.
But are we trusting our friends to be good friends or because personal opinions really mean more? Businessweek reports that, “traditional advertising such as TV spots and newspaper ads, as well as digital marketing, such as sponsored links on Google, can build brand awareness, [but] they increasingly do not resonate with target audiences.” Smart people see straight through cheesy advertisements, so traditional ads don’t typically convince people to buy a product. Ads can make people more aware of matching gifts, so matching gifts will be in mind when the person decides to donate, but the ads won’t provoke an increase in doubled donations.
The advertisement conundrum gets solved with word of mouth. The key to word of mouth is to make the people who you talk to, whether they be staff or donors, aware of your service in such a way that they feel like valued pieces of your nonprofit.
Identify Required Support
When staff are aware of matching gifts, they can inform donors of matching gift programs when donors come knocking with inquiries, even if the questions don’t pertain to donating. The idea is that the more people associated with your nonprofit who are aware of matching gifts the greater the chance that donors will be told to seek out matching gifts.
Once donors know about corporate giving, they can tell other donors, so realize the benefits of informing all the layers of your nonprofit community. The more people who know about matching gifts means that more people will talk about matching gifts, which means that you’ll receive more doubled donations.
Another benefit of word of mouth is cost, which, if done right, is zero. You tell your staff about matching gifts, they tell their friends, and soon word has spread that donors should seek out matching gifts. Articulate that submitting a matching gift will allow people to go the extra mile and be more valued parts of your community. A goal of any donation is to give to something bigger than oneself.
Word of mouth can be as simple as informing your staff about matching gifts at your next meeting and imploring your team to be mindful of these programs when speaking to both donors and prospects. Once the word about matching gifts is out, it can spread like wildfire from one trusted voice to another.
With a plan and proper marketing procedures in place, it’s time to turn your attention to when to execute various functions. Matching gifts are a year round effort, but there are stages for when to execute certain parts of your promotional plan.
Your timeline might look something like:
Identify who you’re going to market to and how. Update your marketing materials. Send those materials out to donors, and then measure your results, evaluate the data, and continuously improve how you market matching gifts. There is always room for improvement, and updates can be made on the fly as you learn more from past marketing campaigns.
There’s a real science to maximizing matching gifts, and it takes foundation in proper execution from a dedicated matching gift team. If you don’t already have a matching gift leader then identify one, because, with determination and a proper plan, you can benefit from an increase in doubled donations.