Looking to the future of matching gift fundraising, we’re announcing today the discontinuation of the Double the Donation e-sign feature.
Why was e-sign important in the past?
Historically, many companies required donors to submit matching gift request forms on paper. After all, the very first matching gift program was launched in 1954, when electronic mail was still the stuff of science fiction! Many matching gift programs used the paper form model for their original program launches as they were created in the following decades.
Fast forward to 2011 when Double the Donation was founded. Some forward-thinking companies had already begun offering online submission processes to make the matching gift process easier for their employees. Double the Donation, an online tool, was perfectly positioned to help these donors submit their matching gift requests by linking directly to those online portals. But some companies were dragging their feet and still requesting paper matching gift form submissions.
How could Double the Donation support donors whose companies required paper forms? Our solution was developing cutting-edge e-sign functionality. With Double the Donation e-sign, instead of submitting a paper form, donors could simply complete a pre-filled online PDF and send it to their company’s matching gift program managers that way.
It worked: We saw an immediate increase in the percentage of these paper-only donors who submitted matching gift requests! But at the same time, the rate of change to electronic-only submission in the industry was already accelerating.
Why are we discontinuing the Double the Donation e-sign feature?
In the past decade, paper forms have become much less popular. When Double the Donation got its start in 2012, about 70% of match-eligible employees had a paper PDF option.
In fact, just in 2017, the percentage of match-eligible employees able to submit a paper form has dropped all the way to 7.1%.
That’s because online portal submission is easier, faster, more secure, and all-around better for both the donor and nonprofit organizations. It’s been proven time and time again: When both an electronic submission option and a paper submission option are offered to the same employee group, more matching gift submissions are completed through the online process than through the paper process!
Some of the most philanthropic companies in the industry have been switching to an online-only submission process over the past few years:
- IBM: “New process for 2017…next year we will introduce an online process for matching grants and eliminate the use of printed applications”
- Merck: “Please discontinue the use of all paper request forms… matching gift funds should be submitted via the Merck… website”
- Alliant Energy: “We moved to an online request process only in 2015. This will provide a more efficient method… for our Foundation”
- Prudential: “We will no longer offer paper forms for the Matching Gifts Program”
With these corporate process changes continuing, the percentage of donors submitting match requests will be in the low single digit percentages – we anticipate less than 4% – by the end of 2018 and only decrease over time.
All these factors led us to the easy decision to shift our focus away from e-sign of paper forms and toward the future of matching gifts.
But haven’t you heard the statistic that 50% of companies have paper matching gift forms?
We certainly have!
But it’s important to remember that in a changing industry, statistics and assumptions have to be continually re-assessed. Double the Donation is committed to always looking into the data to recognize when we need to take another look. This is one of those situations.
While it may have been true years ago that 50% (or so) of companies required paper matching gift form submission, much more recent analysis has shown that this stat is not just outdated, it doesn’t tell the full story.
Think about the different companies that have matching gift programs. Companies of all sizes come to mind, from IBM with 500,000+ employees to the local pizzeria with 5 employees. IBM requires electronic form submission, while the local pizza joint requires paper forms. IBM’s program affects significantly more donors than the local pizza shop.
So what does that mean for industry statistics? Ask yourself:
What is more useful for your organization to know in this scenario: that 50% of companies require paper forms, or that a tiny percentage of match-eligible donors are required to use paper forms? Which statistic should you base your fundraising decisions on?
That’s why at Double the Donation, we’ve started weighting our analysis by employee count. The resulting statistics tell a compelling story: The biggest matching gift programs affecting the largest percentages of donors have already moved or are in the process of moving away from paper matching gift forms, with smaller programs soon to follow.
Therefore, at Double the Donation, we’re doing the same with our own development priorities.
What is the future of matching gift fundraising?
Companies moving to online matching isn’t the only trend in corporate social responsibility. In the past decade, we’ve also kept our fingers on the pulse of another trend: the increasing consolidation of workplace giving solutions.
More and more, companies are turning to workplace giving platforms like Benevity and CyberGrants to manage their matching gift programs. That means matching gift submission processes are becoming more standardized and centralized.
How can we support nonprofits and schools in this changing environment? The answer lies in guiding donors through the electronic portal submission process. We’re focusing on how to give donors confidence, speed, and accuracy when submitting their matching gift request. That means prioritizing personalized automation flows and database accuracy.
We’re heading into the future, and we hope you’ll join us!