Matching gift disbursement plays a considerable role in nonprofits’ matching gift fundraising success. This is essentially the go-between for companies that offer matching gift programs and the organizations that receive their matching gift funds.
Yet the matching gift disbursement process remains a mystery for many nonprofits and their donors (and even some companies, too). Unfortunately, groups that don’t understand what goes into corporate matching gifts are unlikely to use these programs to their greatest advantage—which is where this comprehensive Q&A guide comes in!
In the next eight sections, we’ll answer some of the most common questions asked about matching gift fundraising—particularly the behind-the-scenes processes that go into these corporate giving programs.
1. What is matching gift disbursement?
Matching gift disbursement is the process that takes place between corporations and nonprofits in which matching donation funding is requested, approved, and transferred from a matching gift company to its nonprofit recipient. The process is sparked by an individual donor, having been identified as matching gift eligible, who submits a matching gift request through their employer.
The particular steps can vary from company to company, with the basic premise being the same. Employers want to verify that their employees are making charitable donations to legitimate causes. After doing so, they authorize the match request and submit their matching donation to the nonprofit cause.
2. What are CSR vendors?
CSR vendors are known by many names, such as corporate social responsibility software, corporate giving software, matching gift management software, and more. This type of tool is used by thousands of companies with matching gift programs to manage their corporate philanthropy initiatives.
CSR software providers equip companies with powerful resources to manage and automate their workplace giving programs. Overall, they create a better user experience for the businesses, their employees, and the nonprofits they partner with.
Some of the most common examples of these providers include:
- Bright Funds
- America’s Charities
Each of the above-listed CSR platforms works with different companies, small and large, to facilitate matching gifts and manage the matching gift disbursement process from beginning to end. The software typically utilizes automation practices in order to speed things up and require less on the part of the donors, nonprofits, and companies alike.
A CSR giving provider such as these will likely provide their corporate clients with an online portal from which employees can complete their match requests. From there, the platform may screen requested donations according to predetermined matching criteria (such as minimums, maximums, nonprofit types, etc.) and approve or deny submissions accordingly.
Some of these CSR vendors even facilitate employee donations themselves, functioning as an online giving tool where individual donations are then passed along to the receiving organization, along with the qualifying corporate match.
3. What’s the difference between CSR and matching gift software?
See also: If CSR platforms manage and automate matching gifts, how does that compare to nonprofit matching gift software (like 360MatchPro by Double the Donation)?
There are two overarching categories of matching gift software. These are matching gift software for companies and matching gift software for nonprofits. And the main difference is just that: the primary buyer and user of the platform, which then dictates the functionality of the software. Here’s a brief overview:
- Corporate giving software for companies: Socially responsible companies typically purchase matching gift management software to facilitate their end of the matching gift disbursement process—namely, the submission, review, and approval of employee requests.
- Corporate giving software for nonprofits: Nonprofit organizations, on the other hand, often utilize matching gift software to increase donor awareness about these programs, screen for match-eligible donations, and track matching gift disbursement efforts throughout.
As donors walk through the giving process with their favorite charities, they are often first met with the nonprofit’s matching gift software. This may be while browsing the organization’s “ways to give” page, directly within their online giving form, or through a post-transaction follow-up email.
The majority of match-eligible donors remain unaware of their employers’ programs, so the nonprofit’s matching gift software aims to inform each individual about the widespread availability of company gift-matching and provide a simple way for donors to determine their own eligibility status. For many companies, this includes incorporating direct links to matching gift request forms—which, again, are often managed by a CSR platform.
When a donor clicks to navigate to their employer’s online matching gift portal, this is typically where they cross over into the territory of matching gift software for companies. Now, the donor is prompted to complete their match request by providing donation information through the online portal.
4. How are matching gifts disbursed with a CSR platform?
Although each CSR vendor has its own matching gift disbursement process, these four essential steps are typically involved:
Step #1: A donor submits a request through their company’s CSR platform.
Once a nonprofit supporter makes their donation, they should (hopefully) be directed to their employer’s online match request portal. Oftentimes, the instructions and links for doing so will be made available through the organization’s matching gift widget, which pulls information from thousands of companies listed in a comprehensive matching gift database. In other scenarios, the donor will not be automatically provided with their employer’s giving program information but is encouraged to seek it out and begin the process on their own.
Upon landing at their company’s corporate giving portal, the employee donor is ready to make their request. This typically involves completing an online form with basic information about the initial donation. The details required in the form can vary from one business to the next. However, these often include the name and contact information of the nonprofit (including their tax ID number), along with a copy of the donor’s charitable gift receipt.
The donor then clicks “submit” and pats themself on the back for completing their portion of the matching gift process.
Step #2: The employing companies review the request.
Next, the company reviews employees’ matching gift requests and makes a decision as to whether the initial donation is matching gift eligible. Most companies will choose to go either the automatic or the manual approval routes:
- Automatic approval: Many businesses—particularly those utilizing a CSR platform to manage their matching gift disbursements—enact an automated approval process for employee match requests. This typically involves the software screening the provided employee donation information against the company’s predetermined matching eligibility criteria.
- Manual donation confirmation: On the other hand, some companies will opt for a more involved process regarding their matching gift review process. For example, Company A may decide to reach out to the nonprofit an employee submits a match request for in order to personally verify the initial donation that was made. Company B might accept a valid gift receipt as proof of donation but choose to manually screen the match request for any potential red flags.
Step #3: The company authorizes match funds to be sent through the CSR platform.
Once the donation match request is approved (either through automated or manual review processes), the matching gift funding is ready to be transferred from the contributing business to the receiving organization. When a company utilizes a CSR platform, this step involves authorizing the corporate giving vendor to disperse the funds on the company’s behalf.
Keep in mind that if an employer sees multiple donors giving to the same fundraising organization, the employer might end up batching multiple matching donations together within their CSR platform before releasing the funds.
Step #4: The organization receives a donation from the CSR platform.
At this last stage in the matching gift disbursement process, the nonprofit simply sits back and waits for the match funding to come through. Unfortunately, fundraisers should not be holding their breath, as it can take a while for matching gifts to travel throughout each step along the way.
Eventually, the nonprofit will receive a matching donation from a donor’s employing company, which should be entered in the CRM alongside the initial gift. Keep in mind, though, that a matching gift from the Home Depot may be unknowingly processed and recorded under the name of the CSR platform rather than the company itself—so keep an eye out for incoming checks from those service providers as well.
If a company does not work with a CSR management platform, the match request process may look a bit different, while the matching gift disbursement should be largely the same. For example, some companies still collect paper submissions, while others utilize downloadable PDF documents or simple online forms (which can still be made available through a nonprofit’s matching gift solution).
From there, the company will manually review the request to compare against their matching criteria, determine an outcome, and make their matching gift.
5. How do I know if a donation is from a matching gift?
Because matching gifts are often processed through a company’s CSR platform, the donation record in an organization’s database may not contain the contributing company’s name, let alone the donor who had initially requested the match. As such, it can be difficult for organizations to locate matching gifts in their CRM and track them effectively.
To better track your nonprofit’s matches, the first thing you can do is keep an eye out for any corporate donations flowing into your donor database.
Now, these might come in a few ways. Take a look at these examples, based on the way a company manages its gift-matching initiatives:
- In-house matching gift management: A company that manually manages its matching gift program internally may disburse a matching donation in its own name. So if you see a donation from “Larry’s Law Firm,” you may want to flag that gift as a corporate gift. Then, scan your donor information for any recent donors who are marked as being employed by the company. Compare against that individual’s personal donation and matching gift status—and with any luck, you’ve found your matching donor.
- Outsourced matching gift management: Companies that outsource their matching gift disbursement to third-party CSR vendors, on the other hand, can be even more difficult. For these, look out for names of common corporate giving companies (e.g., Benevity, YourCause, CyberGrants, etc.), and make a note if any gifts flow into your CRM from these companies. Then again, you can work to narrow down your recent matching gift donors and determine who and where the match came from.
Identifying incoming matches is critical for effective tracking and reporting purposes. And without correctly associating matching gifts with the donors who requested them, an organization can hardly optimize its engagement and follow-up strategies.
Yet Neon One fundraising data reports that in 2020 alone, 10.8% of nonprofits had incorrectly attributed a gift to either Benevity or YourCause, rather than mark the donations from these platforms as corporate matches. And of nonprofits falling into this category, nearly 87% tracked more Benevity and YourCause revenue than they did matching gifts—meaning they have significantly more untracked matches than tracked.
When a nonprofit lacks this information, they likely won’t be able to close the loop with the donor and mark their matching gift disbursement cycle as completed. Additionally, they can’t communicate their appreciation for the individual going above and beyond to submit a company match, which can lead to a missing piece of the donor engagement puzzle. Not to mention, unorganized corporate matches can clutter your donor database without proper maintenance.
6. What happens after a match is received?
What an organization does after receiving a matching donation has a significant impact on its matching gift fundraising success overall. But unfortunately, many nonprofits’ honest answers to the above question would be — nothing.
So let’s rephrase: “What should happen after a match is received?”
When you determine that an individual has secured a matching gift for your organization, we recommend including a note on their donor profile. The donor tag should list the matching gift and initial donation amount, along with the employing company. This enables your nonprofit to optimize your communications with the donor as well as keep their matching gift eligibility status in mind for future fundraising efforts.
Then, be sure to follow up with the individual after receiving their employer’s donation as well. Although the matching funds didn’t come directly from their wallet, it’s important to recognize that the individual’s initial gift and follow-up participation is what made the corporate match possible. Doing so will construct a positive impression of the matching gift process for donors and increase the likelihood that they request a matching gift for the next donation they contribute to your organization.
7. What data results from matching gift disbursement?
The most effectively and efficiently run nonprofits are being driven by the power of fundraising data. Knowing how your organization’s existing fundraising strategies are operating, as well as your current and historical measurements of success, can provide you with the insights you need to move forward into greater results.
Luckily, strategic matching gift fundraising can result in loads of valuable data points for any nonprofit. We recommend prioritizing the following key matching metrics:
- Total match revenue
- Number of match-eligible donations
- Percentage of match-eligible to total donations
- Number of matches requested
- Percentage of match-eligible gifts submitted
- Number of matches secured
- Percentage of match-eligible gifts secured
- Average matching gift size
And on a more personal scale, the #1 most important detail to know is the companies your donors work for. Having a record of (at least the majority of) your donors’ employment information will allow you to adjust your matching gift promotion strategies accordingly, providing each individual with company-specific program information to their employer. This enables your team to drive more matching gifts to completion with targeted communication, tracking, and forecasting.
8. What role do nonprofit CRMs play in matching gift disbursement?
Based on the above suggested key performance indicators, you can probably tell there’s a lot to track when it comes to matching gift fundraising. This is especially true if you’re looking to maximize your efforts and scale up your matching gift initiatives (which, if you don’t want to miss out on free and unrestricted funding for your cause, you should be).
And the best tool for tracking fundraising data is your nonprofit’s CRM.
But how exactly does your donor database fit into the matching gift disbursement procedure? It essentially comes into play at the very end of the process. As your organization receives matching gift funding—whether through the company itself or via a secondary CSR platform—those donations flow into your CRM as any other contribution would. The way your team organizes the gifts and to whom the donations are attributed can impact the effectiveness of the matching gift follow-up steps highlighted above.
For example, we recommend asking match-eligible donors to keep you informed throughout the match request process with their employer. Have they submitted their match? Determined their gift did not qualify for a corporate match? Verified the donation with the company?
The easiest way to do this is by automating donor messaging while leveraging your CRM’s communication tracking functionality. And this can be an especially seamless procedure if your database integrates with top matching gift software such as Double the Donation.
If you’re looking to locate previously made matching gifts, you may want to take the time to comb through your nonprofit CRM. As you do so, keep an eye out for CSR platforms that may have disbursed company matches yet flown under your organization’s radar.
Matching gift revenue can make a significant impact on your nonprofit. Having the knowledge surrounding every step of the matching gift disbursement process will allow you to better manage, track, and improve your organization’s efforts.
It all comes down to effectively enacting your team’s role in the disbursement procedure while simultaneously understanding the tasks being carried out by the other parties involved (i.e., your donors and their employers) to get from start to finish.
Once you’ve established this foundation of strengthened know-how, it will result in powerful matching gift benefits for your organization and its beneficiaries, your donors, and the corporations you’ve partnered with.