Get the answers to all your corporate matching gift program questions.

8 Corporate Matching Gift Program Questions (and Answers!)

Corporate philanthropy plays a major role in nonprofits’ fundraising. These programs are often analyzed through the nonprofit perspective, but what about the company perspective?

Taking advantage of matching gifts can be tricky for nonprofits when there aren’t clear guidelines provided, so this is where the responsibility shifts to the corporations implementing these programs. Businesses need well-designed giving programs that cover all the necessary bases. That way, your business leaders won’t be bombarded with an influx of questions by local nonprofits and your employees.

Creating a new philanthropy program, or even just revamping your current strategy, requires hard work mixed with a solid understanding of matching gifts.

Here are 8 common questions from corporations looking to start a new employee matching gift program:

  1. What percentage of companies offer a corporate matching gift program?
  2. What’s the typical gift matching rate?
  3. How much does a matching gift program cost per employee?
  4. How do corporations benefit from matching gift and volunteer grant programs?
  5. How can we design a best-in-class corporate giving program?
  6. Should we use a matching gift or volunteer grant administrator?
  7. What are the main services provided by software?
  8. Which companies use vendors vs. administer programs internally?

Ready to find out all the answers? Let’s dive in!

Before creating your matching gift plan, take a look at how common these corporate giving programs are.

1. What percentage of companies offer a corporate matching gift program?

The percentage of companies with matching gift programs in place varies from industry-to-industry. Company size also plays a major role in how prevalent matching gift programs are.

Large companies are far more likely than small, family-owned businesses to offer comprehensive benefit programs. Thus, they’re more likely to offer matching gift programs.

If you look at the Fortune 500 companies, about 65% will match employee donations to a wide range of nonprofits. As you get into small companies, the percentage decreases substantially since sole proprietorships and 5-person companies rarely offer these programs.

The prevalence of matching gift programs also varies by industry. Companies with skilled labor forces (such as tech, pharmaceuticals, and banks) are more likely to offer matching gift programs than industries with lower-wage employees (such as restaurants, low-cost retailers, agricultural production).

In short, the percentage of companies that offer matching gift programs depends on a few factors, but any business can offer them!

For references to help design your company’s program, click here to see some of the world’s leading matching gift programs.

Learn common ratios for companies' matching gift programs.

2. What’s the typical gift matching rate?

By far, the standard is a 1:1 match. Other companies may offer higher match rates (e.g. 2:1) or lower match rates (e.g. .5:1), though.

We asked Adam Weinger, Double the Donation’s president, and he said:

“The number I throw out casually when on the phone is 90% [of matches] are 1:1 and then 10% are either greater or less than 1:1. This calculation can get a bit tricky since some companies have different match ratios for certain employee segments (retirees vs. current employees) or different segments of the nonprofit space which they match to (higher ed. vs. arts & cultural) based on their corporate philanthropy goals.”

In other words, your company should offer at least the standard 1:1 match if you want to catch the eyes of well-rounded potential employees.

How much does it cost to implement a matching gift program?

3. How much does a matching gift program cost per employee?

There are a ton of variables that affect how much a matching gift program costs, so there’s no set number for how much or how little your company might spend.

The largest factor is the “maximum annual match per employee”. For the sake of simplicity, assume a standard match ratio of 1:1. The maximum amounts matched annually per employee are all over the board. Most companies fall into the range of $1,000 – $15,000 max per employee per year, but it isn’t unusual to see maximums of $250, $500, $20,000, or even $30,000.

Another factor is employee participation rates. Just because a company offers a matching gift program doesn’t mean its employees are aware of it. Oftentimes, nonprofits will take the initiative on promoting these opportunities, but it’s also up to your company to raise awareness for your program, too.

Employee participation rates are also all over the board. A big factor in this is how well a company promotes employee matching gifts.

At some companies, most employees are aware of offered benefits. For instance, Microsoft is a leader in sharing and promoting matching gift information to its employees, while employees at other companies may have never heard of such programs.

A third factor is how much giving potential a company’s average employee has. For instance, think of a hedge fund vs. a fast-food chain.

Even if both companies have $50,000 maximums for all employees and have the same level of promotion to employees, the average charitable donation being matched is going to vary significantly.

The point is, no two matching gift programs cost exactly the same. It’s largely dependent on your maximum annual match per employee, employee participation rates, and your employees’ giving potential among a handful of other factors.

Companies can benefit from matching gift programs, too!

4. How do corporations benefit from matching gift and volunteer grant programs?

Businesses benefit in a number of ways from offering giving programs. To fully answer this question, take a look at these two comprehensive articles:

  1. The impact of matching gifts on employee engagement
  2. The importance of increasing employee engagement using corporate giving programs

The largest reason for implementing this type of program is maintaining a positive public image and relationship with your community. However, there are a number of other benefits including:

  • Developing a reputation for giving back in the community where your corporation is based.
  • Establishing a program that directs corporate dollars to the organizations that employees are passionate about.
  • Encouraging employee philanthropy and volunteerism.
  • Increasing employee morale and retention.
  • Receiving tax incentives.

There are a number of reasons businesses should implement a giving program. More than likely, your company will find at least one reason that strikes a chord and motivates you to start your own program!

To create a well-designed matching gift program, consider these tips.

5. How can we design a best-in-class corporate giving program?

There is no one right way to design a best-in-class corporate giving program. It depends widely on your company’s wants and needs, but all businesses should start with four elements.

1. Eligible Nonprofits

Employees are passionate about different causes. Allow them to select from any 501(c)(3) nonprofit or accredited educational institution or K-12 school. Typical categories that companies specify include:

  • Higher education institutions.
  • K-12 schools.
  • Arts and cultural organizations.
  • Environmental groups.
  • Health and human service organization.
  • Civic and community-based nonprofits.

Remember that what’s important to you, the program administrator, isn’t necessarily the same as what is important to your company’s employees. Take their values into consideration when designing your program.

2. Types of Programs Offered

Employees give back to their communities in different ways. Some choose to donate monetarily while others may prefer to volunteer. Offer a variety of employee giving programs including:

When you offer a number of programs, you expand your employees’ options for investing in their community.

3. Eligible Employees

It’s considered standard to offer corporate giving programs to full-time employees, but don’t forget to include part-time employees, retirees, and spouses as they can be some of the most active donors and volunteers. Giving these valuable contributors access to your program can really help raise your company’s reputation within your community.

Click on the following companies for samples of how they’re leading their respective industries with best-in-class employee matching gift and overall employee giving programs:

4. A Good Design

Designing well-thought-out program guidelines isn’t enough. For the best possible outcome, there must be a concentrated effort to promote your employee giving programs internally to employees and externally to the community your company is supporting.

Measuring your company’s internal success (i.e. promoting the matching gift program and ensuring the process is user-friendly) can be done by looking at your company’s employee participation rate on a regular basis. When you launch your corporate matching gift program, make sure you have a well-designed outreach strategy planned for the entire company throughout the upcoming year. Otherwise, your employees and your community may overlook your program.

Consider these corporate giving administrators to help you implement your own matching gift program.

6. Should we use a matching gift or volunteer grant program administrator?

Double the Donation is focused on helping nonprofits maximize donations received from existing matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

Although we don’t set up or manage corporate programs, there are a number of companies out there that do cater to corporations. 3rd party matching gift and volunteer grant program vendors include:

If you find you’re having trouble setting up your company’s program, it may be worthwhile to look into hiring a program administrator to guide you through the process. Do whatever makes sense for your business depending on your budget and time.

Learn how software can help your company implement its own matching gift program.

7. What are the main services provided by matching gift software?

Each of the major software vendors offers a suite of services. They’re designed to help new companies create employee matching gift programs, as well as help companies with existing programs improve and refine their matching gift strategies and goals.

These services help companies solve all aspects, both technical and non-technical, of administering match programs, including:

  • Program guidelines
  • Implementation of an online portal for employees to track volunteer hours and request matching gifts
  • Up-to-date reports
  • Customer support for employees
  • Verification of the nonprofits’ eligibility statuses
  • Grant processing

Software isn’t vital for your matching gift or volunteer grant strategy, but it can certainly help fill in the gaps and quicken the process! If your business is struggling to implement a new program or refine its current program, it may be time to implement some new tech.

Decide whether or not your company needs software to get its matching gift program up and running.

8. Which companies use vendors, and which administer programs internally?

Historically, the larger a company is, the more likely they are to use a software vendor. For instance, most Fortune 100 companies use a vendor while smaller, mom-and-pop shops almost always manage their programs internally.

However, over the past few years, smaller companies have been increasingly choosing newer software to help establish their programs. More often than not, recently released software offers excellent cloud-based services for a reasonable price.

There’s a number of software providers on the market, so make sure your top pick offers what you need before you buy. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a system that doesn’t do what you need it to, or you’ll be overpaying for extra features you don’t even need.

To start your research, take a look at this list of the main vendors who provide corporate philanthropy software to corporations.

There’s a lot to discover about how matching gifts and volunteer grants can enhance your corporate giving program!

Remember, there is a range of benefits from implementing a corporate giving program. Design yours carefully so that you cover all your bases and set your business up for success.

Check out these helpful resources to get started:

  • Mercy Corps Matching Gift Page. Want to see how nonprofit organizations incorporate matching gifts into their fundraising model? Try out Mercy Corps’ employee matching gift page to get an idea of how your employees might discover their matching gift eligibility.
  • Top 10 Volunteer Grant Companies. Looking for a corporate blueprint of a successful volunteer grant program? Search no further! Here’s a list of the top 10 companies with volunteer grant programs in place that your business should emulate.
  • Top 12 Matching Gift Companies. Take a look at these major companies that offer matching gift programs to their employers. Their philanthropy approach may spark a few guideline ideas when designing your program.