Have you ever been to a movie double feature? They are great. You get in the movie-going mood, take the time out of your busy life to make it to the theater, buy your popcorn, sneak in your candy, splurge on a huge soda, and then settle in for two great films. Oh, and most importantly, you’re only paying for one.
Once a donor contributes to your organization, they can submit a request to their company (if they have a program) to have their gift matched. If your nonprofit qualifies, the corporation will send with a check for the same amount or more depending on the company’s matching ratio.
However, just like it takes a bit of extra planning and time management skills to get yourself to a double feature, it will take your team a bit of extra work to secure those matched gifts.
To ensure that your nonprofit maximizes its efforts, we’ve curated a list of the 11 most valuable matching gift best practices:
- Study up on matching gifts.
- Appoint a matching gift coordinator.
- Raise awareness about matched giving.
- Collect donor employer details when appropriate.
- Strive for easy accessibility.
- Keep records of the matched gifts through the entire process.
- Thank your donors for submitting a matching gift request.
- Cultivate relationships with donors’ companies.
- Maintain and update your donor records.
- Perform a prospect screening.
- Track and review your progress.
Follow these tips, lean back in your seat, and watch the credits roll!
Here’s the good news: if you want to learn about matching gifts you will have no issue doing so.
The topic of matching gifts isn’t some incredibly intimidating subject like organic chemistry. Reaching an effective level of working knowledge is certainly possible.
Begin like you would with any subject by reading what you can. Try to build a strong foundation of knowledge, so that when you implement your program you’ll be set to handle obstacles as they arise.
Having a keen sense of matching gifts and what goes into obtaining them will be crucial in planning your program and standardizing your processes.
Learning, for instance, the matching gift guidelines for the three biggest companies in your area would help your team target donors from those companies. Chances are, some of your preexisting donors work at one of those three. Play the odds when picking and choosing when to research specifically and when to stay general.
In the ideal situation, everyone on your organization’s team will be well-versed in matching gift programs. However, by appointing an expert to lead your team, you’ll have the time and resources to implement matching gifts into your overall strategy.
Your nonprofit will be better served hiring a matching gift coordinator than it would be having your whole staff know just a few facts about matching gifts. The coordinator is the expert, and the rest of your employees should know enough to field the questions that they can and pass along the rest.
The coordinator is the designated point-person for all matching gift queries and problems, as well as the staffer in charge of seeing the donations through until the end.
Your coordinator will be able to keep your various departments in the loop about what’s going on and need-to-know information.
All staff should be promoting matching gifts when relevant, but the matching gift coordinator will be the coach leading your team to victory.
If your organization wants advice when hiring a matching gift coordinator, why not consider hiring an executive search firm? The consultants can help you craft the perfect job description and lead you through the entire hiring process.
What if you don’t have the funds or employee base to designate a matching gifts coordinator?
Set aside some time and have a team do the research and put together matching gift materials including:
- Educational packets
- Letter templates
- Newsletter copy
- Answers to FAQs
- Fast facts
With these resources, and resources like them, any member of your team should be prepared to handle most matching gift occurrences and problems.
Once you have a solid understanding of matching gifts and an idea of how the process will work internally, it is time to spread the word. People need to know about matching gifts before they can request them.
No need to be coy at this point, the goal is mass awareness. Think like Paul Revere. The British may not be coming, but matching gifts are.
Lucky for everyone, technology has drastically improved since Revere’s days, so nonprofits now have plenty of ways to promote matching gifts.
Put matching gifts on your ‘ways to give’ page, like Girls Scouts of Greater Atlanta did:
Create a dedicated matching gift page, like the ASPCA did:
Outline matching gifts in an email newsletter, like CMTA did:
These are just three of many, many options. Get creative.
Matching gift promotion should span all of your communication platforms. Diversify your marketing so that it can reach a diverse audience of donors.
Part of your educational materials for donors will give them access to determine if their companies have matching gift programs, but if your staff is able to readily see the employer of any given donor in your database, they can then go the extra mile to obtain that donation.
A major gift donor who works for a company with a generous matching gift program can make a huge difference in a nonprofit’s annual budget.
You also don’t want to waste the time of your employees.
Knowing the companies donors work for will help you segment out matching gift prospects.
If you are promoting on, say, email, zeroing in on only the prospects with the most potential wouldn’t make sense. What about a calling campaign, though? Staff won’t have time to call all donors and prospects. That’s where employer info can make a world of difference.
For a donor, securing a matching gift is an easy process that has the misfortune of sounding complicated. Brand it better.
Clear and concise language, with easy to understand directions will make your donors much more likely to seek out matching gifts. Donors who have already been kind enough to donate should not have to follow-up with a bunch more work.
- List the typical steps involved in the process on your dedicated page
- Insert a matching gift widget that can help the donor search for her company’s program
- Send out informational mailed materials
- Highlight key matching gift statistics
- Point out a few of the companies that commonly match gifts for your nonprofit and detail those programs
Ensure that your nonprofit is a one-stop shop for all things matching gift.
This task will usually fall under the matching gift coordinator’s jurisdiction.
Essentially, you’ll want to know what requests have been made, when they are processed, and when they have been fulfilled.
Keeping accurate records will guarantee that no attempted matching gifts slip through the cracks. There can be a lot of moving parts in the process among the donor, donor’s employer, and the nonprofit, and there will be some level of back-and-forth.
A clear trail of what has happened and what needs to happen will make interactions a lot easier and lot more efficient.
The more standardized and systematic the process you use is, the better the results will be.
Donors involved with matching gifts have gone the extra mile for your cause. Your thank you should reflect that.
Just like matching gifts have doubled your donations, matching gift thank yous should be double as well. Thank once for the initial donation and a second time when the matched gift goes through.
You might want to put together a special event to honor matching gift donors. The goal is to show genuine gratitude towards what they’ve done to help, but something like a special event will also promote the program to those who are unaware of it.
If you don’t have the resources for an entire event, try publicly thanking those involved on social media.
Social media is a great place to promote matching gifts, but it is also a top outlet for acknowledgment. A strategic Facebook post can kill two birds with one stone by thanking a matching gift donor while getting the idea of matching gifts into the heads of your Facebook community.
You should also consider thanking your donors’ companies. The donor has brought the company to you, so make sure you’re taking your open shots.
Matching gifts can provide a much-desired introduction to major corporations with top-notch corporate giving.
When an employee asks her company to match her gift, by nature of the process the company will be exposed to your nonprofit. If you want to foster a new relationship, your nonprofit is going to have to impress the company.
By having all of your matching gifts ducks in a row, your staff can focus on building those corporate relationships, instead of troubleshooting submission issues.
A disorganized and dysfunctional donor database is really going to hold your fundraisers back when it comes to matching gifts.
With out-of-date information, your staff has no chance of making a real go of acquiring matching gifts.
You could send out mailers with blanks for donors to fill-in any changes to their personal details.
Once the information is in your system, your next move is going to be making sure those who need it can find it. Having data stored in such a manner that only one senior team member can even find it does your organization no good.
If you’re looking for donors with large capacities to donate and great matching gift programs, prospect screenings are going to be a big help.
A major insight prospect research can provide is the list of business affiliations of potential donors, like where they work and where their spouses work. If a donor’s spouse works for a major matching gift company, your donor will often qualify for those donations as well.
Matching gift participation rates can vary from 3% to 65% based on how much the individual companies promote their programs. With the knowledge derived from prospect screening, you’ll be able to take a well-prepared approach to finding matching gift donors.
Students earn grades and receive progress reports. Professional athletes watch game tape and practice all week long. No one can get better without locating weaknesses and focusing on changing them.
This rule applies to matching gifts as well. An established system designed with achievement assessment in mind is a valuable asset.
So that you can properly grade your program track:
- The matching gift money raised in previous years
- The matching gift money raised in the time following your program’s inception
- Your top matching gift employer
- The costs and time it takes to acquire the gifts
- The percentage of your total revenue that matching gifts account for
Simply advocating for matching gifts won’t be enough to run a successful program. Tracking data and looking at results is the best way to know how your nonprofit is doing and what its areas of improvement are.
Corporate giving programs are out there for the taking. Major corporations like GE and Microsoft have some of the best matching gift programs in the world.
Institute these matching gifts best practices and get ready for the second movie to start.
For more matching gift advice, check out these additional resources:
- Marketing Matching Gifts: Want more ways to promote matching gifts. This guide takes you through several ideas on how your organization can best market matching gifts.
- Ultimate Guide to Major Gifts: Like we mentioned earlier, encouraging major donors to submit matching gifts can add even more money to your annual fund. Learn the ins and outs of major donors with this helpful guide.
- Matching Gift Database: If you want more information on matching gift programs, take a look at Double the Donation’s matching gift database.