Learn how to use direct mail to solicit matching gifts from donors.

Matching Gifts: Using Direct Mail to Inform Donors

Though digital giving methods are en vogue as of late, some donors don’t respond to internet-based giving. Whether they’re less technologically savvy, or simply prefer a good, old fashioned letter, some donors are best contacted through the (still lively) snail mail processes.

Many organizations still raise a substantial percentage of their overall funds through direct mail, so this outreach method isn’t one to be overlooked in the digital age.

Letters, postcards, paper inserts, newsletters, and return envelopes are all still thriving options for thanking donors and making annual and major gift appeals. Each type of direct mail piece has its place in the matching gift donation cycle, and they’ll all help you to reach that vital segment of donors who either don’t use/don’t frequent email or respond to direct mail at a much higher rate.

Learn about using matching gift tools to discover these programs.

Our Favorite Way to Discover Matching Gifts

While this piece is focusing on using paper methods to market matching gifts, we at Double the Donation still recommend using digital methods to discover these matching gift programs in the first place.

Matching gift discovery tools can be a valuable resource for nonprofits of any size. For example, Double the Donation’s Premium Plan provides a searchable, embeddable database that’s perfect for nonprofits and other organizations just beginning to solicit matching gifts. With it, these nonprofits can search the employers of their donors and gain some direction for their direct mail solicitation.

Larger nonprofits looking to build upon their established matching gifts solicitation processes also benefit from digital tools, such as 360MatchPro’s matching gift automation platform. With this, the discovery process can be automated for nonprofits with a larger donor base (and, if you’re using any digital matching gift outreach, that can be automated as well).

These tools can provide valuable insight to nonprofits looking to increase their donations with the help of matching gift programs. If this type of tool sounds like a good resource for your organization, sign up for a 14-day free trial.

Letters are an effective method for informing donors about matching gifts.

Letters

Direct mail might lack the speed of email, but letters are perfect for reaching those who don’t rely on technology for all of their information.

Paper letters highlighting matching gifts come in two varieties:

  1. Solicitation letters
  2. Thank you notes

Follow along for a look at both letter types.

Solicitation Letters

Use letters to remind donors to check if their employers offer matching gifts. Make sure the wording doesn’t read like a sale (so no “Act now! Match your gift!”) and rather feels like a personal communication between your nonprofit and the donor. You want people to know that, by applying for a matching gift, they’re doing a great service to your nonprofit.

Sample Matching Gift Letter Text

  • “Many employers offer matching gift programs that could double or even triple your contribution. We invite you to seek out matching gifts, so that [name of your organization] can continue to [list the work you do in the community].”
  • “Many corporations offer programs that match employee donations to [insert your organization’s name]. The tax-deductible portion of your membership contribution is often eligible to be matched as well.”
  • “Visit [insert the name of your matching gift page on your website] or visit https://doublethedonation.com/[YourOrg] to find out if your company will match your donation.”

Write to your donors like they’re human beings and share personal stories to get them invested and wanting to go the extra mile to seek out matching gifts. Then include one of the above lines, or a quip of your own, as a call to action.

However, solicitation letters won’t work for everyone. Lapsed donors and non-donors tend not to respond to direct mail specifically highlighting employee matching gifts. Active donors are who you want to solicit, as they’ve either made or will make a recent donation and actually welcome the opportunity to double their gift. Because postage prices can add up, do your research (maybe using a matching gift tool!) before sending these letters.

Thank You Letters

When you receive a matching gift, say thank you. Even if you’re sending emails, a paper thank you is a way to get a bit more intimate in order to show how much you appreciate the additional funds. Also, as previously mentioned, many donors don’t check email, and you want to make sure that they’re thanked. Physical letters might take longer to arrive, but they’ll ensure that your gratefulness is received.

Postcards are an effective method for informing donors about matching gifts.

Postcards

People love handwritten notes, and they especially enjoy postcards. Knowing that a real person cared enough to write a note resonates with the heartstrings, and you want to tug at those heartstrings.

Postcards are a perfect way to promote matching gifts through both:

  1. Solicitation postcards
  2. Thank you postcards

Follow along for a look at both types.

Solicitation Postcards

Postcards can be an especially effective way to encourage donors to submit matching gifts. Here’s an example matching gift postcard that MCR,a leading full-service print and mailing provider, created for Florida Institute of Technology:

Front Side of Florida Institute of Technology’s Matching Gift Postcard

Check out this solicitation postcard example.

 Back Side of Florida Institute of Technology’s Matching Gift Postcard

Check out the backside of the postcard, a popular direct mail solicitation method.

The postcard does a lot of good things:

  1. Explains what matching gifts are
  2. Explains their financial impact
  3. Reminds donors to submit their matching gifts
  4. Provides a link to where donors can access additional matching gift information
  5. Provides a contact at the nonprofit to field donors’ questions

If your organization is interested in sending out postcards to donors, then we recommend evaluating the following approaches:

  1. Send a matching gift postcard to all recent donors.
  2. Send a matching gift postcard to donors who gave above a certain amount.
  3. Send a matching gift postcard to donors who you know work for a matching gift company.
  4. Send a matching gift postcard to donors who submitted a matching gift on past donations but haven’t yet for their most recent donations.

Just as with the solicitation letters,  you want to do your research before sending solicitation postcards.

Thank You Postcards

It’s likely that your nonprofit is receiving matching gift checks several months after the original donations. As with letters, postcards are a way to notify your donors that the matching contributions were received.

Thanking donors is not only the right thing to do, but it also instills a positive impression in donors’ minds, so they’ll be more likely to make future contributions with matching gifts.

Here’s a thank you postcard from the University of Michigan:

Sample Matching Gift Postcard sent by the University of Michigan (Front Side)

Check out this postcard example, which is a great example of direct mail solicitation.

 

Sample Matching Gift Postcard sent by the University of Michigan (Back Side)

Check out the back side of the previous postcard example, which is a great way to use direct mail solicitation. The front is a play on the traditional Michigan slogan of, “Hail to the victors.” The alteration is smart, attention-grabbing, and informs the reader what the opposite side of the card will discuss.

You want a card that’s both easy to read and eye-appealing, so Michigan uses clean, white text. Additionally, stay true to your brand’s color scheme, as Michigan does, and include graphics where they fit.

The backside of this postcard thanks the donor for taking the time to submit a matching gift.

When you’re as large as the University of Michigan, chances are that you’re sending this postcard out to more people than hand cramps that you care to endure. Printed postcards are fine, and Michigan presents a nice example, but if you want that personal touch then pick up a pen and scribble a quick message. Even just signing at the bottom can show an extra level of dedication that donors will respond to.

Paper inserts are an effective method for informing donors about matching gifts.

Paper Inserts

If you don’t want to edit all of your existing marketing materials so that they mention matching gifts, or if you want to call added attention to such programs, then paper inserts may be the offline marketing technique for you. Paper inserts are small slips of paper included in donor mailings that call special attention to matching gifts.

A paper insert from the National Kidney Foundation

Paper inserts are a great type of direct mail solicitation. Check out this example.

That’s all a paper insert needs to be: Limited text that gets straight to the point. The graphics here are nice and the choices of both the font sizes and the bold text emphasize the brief message. You can easily tell what this paper insert is talking about and who it’s from. A nice addition is the invitation to visit their website at the provided link.

A more detailed paper insert from the Atlanta Botanical Garden

This is a great example of using paper inserts as a form of direct mail solicitation.

This insert does a great job of taking advantage of the available space to dig into the nuances of matching gifts. The color scheme is eye-catching and the font is easy to read. The bigger, white font at the top is a great call-to-attention, with a more subtle, bold call-to-attention towards the bottom of the page. This is how you want to incorporate matching gifts into a paper insert, by giving them their own space and grabbing the reader’s attention.

If you have a dedicated matching gift page, either on your own website or hosted on the Double the Donation website, then we encourage you to include a link to that page directly on the insert.

Paper inserts come in a variety of forms. Sometimes they’re as simple as little slips of paper, and sometimes they’re Post-it notes stuck onto other materials in the mailing. You could even get creative and turn your paper insert into a bookmark! Regardless, a great way to save money is to print paper inserts onto the backs of other mailing materials.

Newsletters are an effective method for informing donors about matching gifts.

Newsletters

This marketing medium is an opportunity to write content that goes in-depth about the details of matching gifts, as you have more room to articulate why matching gifts are important and their specific benefits to your nonprofit. Newsletters present additional space, so you can give donors more information. This, in turn, brings them closer to your nonprofit in a way that makes them feel more in touch with and thus more included in your community.

Chances are that you have an online newsletter, but have you noticed that some people still prefer the physical newspaper to the digital edition? Whether it’s due to reading issues or any number of problems, sending out a physical newsletter gives you a better chance of reaching donors who you would otherwise miss.

Your newsletter might be one page or several pages. In either case, you need quality content. To get started, here are two potential articles ideas that can raise awareness for matching gifts:

[Your Organization’s Name] raises [Amount of money raised from matching gifts] from Matching Gifts and [What your organization did with the money]

Use this article topic to detail how matching gifts provide additional resources that can create opportunities that would otherwise not be possible. Make the story personal and relatable, so donors realize the importance of taking a mere five minutes to submit a matching gift request.

Corporate Employee Matching Gift Programs: What Are They and How Do They Benefit [Your Organization’s Name]?

Use this article topic to inform donors about matching gift basics, from what matching gifts are to how they benefit your organization to how easy it is to submit a matching gift request. Sometimes people just need to know that such programs exist.

Newsletters are great to mail out in paper form, but with the cost of postage, it might serve you best to send out a bulk of materials in a single letter. Other tangible materials that you can send along with your newsletter include all of the above direct mail items.

Return envelopes are an effective method for informing donors about matching gifts.

Return Envelopes

If your nonprofit is like other organizations using direct mail to solicit donations, you’re probably including a pre-printed return envelope to make it easy for donors to mail in their donations.

The return envelope is a prime spot to remind donors to check if their employers will match their donations.

Return envelopes are a great method of direct mail fundraising. Check out this example.

In case you can’t read the text on the above graphic, it says:

Thanks for donating!

Don’t forget to see if your company offers a matching gift program.

Visit [insert your Double the Donation matching gift URL or a link to your organization’s matching gift page] to access your company’s matching gift form, guidelines, and instructions.

If a donor is already submitting a gift to your organization via return envelope, there’s no better time to inform them of the power of matching gifts. These already-philanthropic donors can increase the impact of their donation to your organization without spending any more in their initial donation, and this is the perfect time to tell them about that.


A lot of the time, scoring matching gifts is about increasing awareness about these programs. Direct mail offers a bevy of ways to connect to donors, and some donors even respond to paper mail better than digital methods.

From letters to postcards to newsletters, you have all the options you need to raise more donations than ever.

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