Matching gifts are a fundraising goldmine for nonprofit organizations and educational institutions, yet many organizations are unsure of how to make the most of the most popular type of corporate philanthropy. Many companies and corporations offer these matching gift programs, and the process is actually quite simple.
First, the donor makes a contribution. Then they submit a matching gift request to their employer, who confirms that the donation was made as reported. Finally, the company sends a matching donation to the organization or institution that their employee donated to.
Many companies outsource their matching gift programs to a third party vendor, or portal, that manages the matching gift program for them. This includes both the verification of the initial donations and the disbursement process for the companies’ matching donations.
Some of the major portal vendors include Benevity, YourCause, Cybergrants, and EasyMatch. Managing these portals can be a difficult part of the matching gift process, so we’ve put together the eight best practices for streamlining this process to make it easier on your staff.
1. Create one universal username and password for your portal(s)
Oftentimes, your organization will be required to verify a donation in order to receive the matching gift, so you may need to log in to an online portal. This can get tedious when the number of donations awaiting verification grows and grows. Plus, your organization can accumulate access to multiple different portals and accounts.
Having one set of login credentials for your matching gift process will make logging into multiple portals so much easier. These login credentials can be shared amongst your organization. We recommend making your matching gift email address something simple, like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consolidating your login information will streamline the portal process in a few ways:
- You’ll receive all verification requests in one email inbox, ensuring that not a single matching gift opportunity falls through the cracks
- You can prevent losing access to accounts that may be tied to a specific employee at your organization
- You’ll have fewer sets of credentials to remember and keep straight when logging into your multiple portals
2. Create a master list of your portal links
Now that you’ve streamlined your portal login information, you’ll still need to find a way to organize the different portal URLs held by your organization. For example, Cybergrants (a matching gift portal) may send you a URL for every company that a match has been requested from. Meanwhile, YourCause (another portal) may send a different URL for each donation that needs to be verified.
In order to keep these links organized, compile them into a master list including:
- Name of portal vendor
- URL link
- Name of company matching the gift
- Frequency — track how often you need to check each particular portal
You may also consider dividing your list into relevant categories. For example, sort the portals by match deadline from the shortest to the longest. You could also sort the portals by the amount of claims they’ve typically had in the past so that you know which portals take more time to check.
Once you’ve created a master list of your portal URLs, it’s important to keep your list as current as possible.
3. Assign each portal to a specific portal manager
If you don’t have the capacity to assign all matching gift portals to one full-time staff member, consider dividing your portals among staff members. Assign each portal to a specific staff member who will own the management of that particular portal. Doing this will help your staff divide and conquer so that nothing falls through the cracks.
4. Determine a strategy for checking portals
Now that you have streamlined your login information and created an organized process for delegating and tracking your portals, you can determine a more detailed strategy for checking your portals. It’s not uncommon for organizations to lose sight of their portals and allow donations to sit dormant waiting to be verified.
Do you have a portal that you haven’t logged into for a while? Do you have more than one? Some portals may be less active and will only need to be checked when you receive a verification request. However, others may be full of requests and need to be checked every other week.
Determine how often you will need to check each portal and track the frequency on your master list. This ensures that the staff member assigned to each portal knows exactly how often to check it. Once you’ve put this strategy in place, stick to it so that no portal (or donations) will be forgotten about again!
5. Always record matches in your CRM or database
Tracking your matching gifts helps you to develop a better understanding of how much you’re raising specifically in matching gift revenue, which companies are donating the most in matches, and which companies may need follow-up if their matching dollars haven’t come in.
Chances are, you’ve already got a system of reconciliation in place, but may be forgetting to track matching gifts. You may choose to record them as “pledges” or “promised” under the donor’s record or as unconfirmed donations under the company’s record. However you choose to record them in your CRM or database, find a system that makes sense for your organization and track those matching dollars.
6. Work toward closing the loop with your donors through acknowledgment and reconciliation
After you’ve mastered your system of tracking your matching gifts, the next step is to determine a strategy to close the loop with your donors. Acknowledge your donors, not just for their donations, but also for their time and efforts to get their donations matched. You can send them a letter once a year for all the matches they’ve requested or send a quick email each time their matching gift comes through.
Thanking your donors for their matching gifts encourages them to make sending a matching gift request a part of their donation process every time. This also removes any doubt that their company’s matching dollars were received. Plus, this gives you a chance to highlight the impact that their matching donations have had on your organization.
7. Educate all staff members on matching gift portals
One of the best ways to enhance your overall matching gift strategy is to make sure that all staff at your organization, not just those involved in development and fundraising, know what matching gifts are and how your organization can get them. Educate all of your staff on the simple workflow of matching gifts.
Further, educate your staff on the verification process and the different portals that companies use for their matching gift programs. When your staff understands the process, they will recognize a matching gift verification request when it comes in and will feel confident about how to handle it.
8. Collaborate with portal vendors
Each of the portal vendors are different, and they each service thousands of companies who have varying matching gift programs. If you’re not finding the details you need, have questions, or have feedback, don’t hesitate to reach out directly to the portal for help! The best way to have your specific needs met is to work with their support team.
Conclusion: One of the most effective ways to make sure that your organization is making the most of matching gifts is by mastering your matching gift portals. It can be a bit daunting to untangle your existing portal information, but once you do, it’s so worth it! Now you can sit back and watch the matching gift revenue roll in.