Find out if your nonprofit is eligible for most matching gift programs.

Matching Gift Eligibility: Which Nonprofits Qualify?

As a nonprofit professional, you likely know that matching gifts are a goldmine for organizations. However, there are some limitations when it comes to organization eligibility.

To maximize your nonprofit’s matching gift revenue, you first need to know where your organization stands in terms of eligibility. Specifically, you should take a close look at the programs run by your donors’ employers. If you create matching gift appeals when your organization doesn’t qualify, all of your efforts are futile.

Since program standards vary from company-to-company, there aren’t universal guidelines. In other words, you cannot know your eligibility for all matching gift programs (unless you enlist the help of a matching gift database). However, to get started, you can equip yourself with an understanding of common criteria.

To gain a better understanding of common nonprofit eligibility standards, let’s take a look at the following:

  1. Common Requirements for Matching Gifts Programs
  2. Common Restrictions for Matching Gift Programs
  3. Help from a Matching Gift Database

Remember, eligibility standards vary from program-to-program, but by understanding typical guidelines, you set your nonprofit up for fundraising success.

Ready to learn about typical nonprofit eligibility standards for matching gift programs? Let’s get started, so you can boost your matching gift potential!

These nonprofits are typically eligible for matching gift programs.

1. Common Requirements

Most often, corporate giving programs match employee donations to various types of 501(c)(3) organizations, including educational institutions. If you’re just getting started in the nonprofit world, you may not be entirely sure what qualifies as a 501(c)(3) organization. In short, this status indicates that a nonprofit is exempt from federal income tax.

When reviewing a company’s guidelines, you may come across a list that outright states the types of nonprofits (e.g. cultural organizations, environmental organizations, etc.) an employer will match donations to. Organizations that are most commonly eligible for matching gifts include:

  • Higher Education Institutions. Unless otherwise defined in a program’s guidelines, this includes college-level schools that offer at least a two-year program, seminaries schools, theological schools, alumni funds, foundations, and schools/colleges within a university that conduct their own fundraising efforts (i.e. law or medical schools).
  • K-12 Education. This includes public K-12 schools, private K-12 schools, foundations established by the school districts, etc.
  • Arts and Cultural Organizations. This category includes aquariums, libraries, museums, orchestras, public broadcasting stations, and similar nonprofits.
  • Civic and Community Organizations. These are typically any nonprofit that’s community-based, such as animal shelters, child welfare, homeless shelters, low-income assistance, and so on.
  • Environmental Organizations. This refers to conservation efforts, wildlife preservation, etc.
  • Health and Human Services. This includes healthcare services, hospitals, substance abuse programs, and so on.

Most companies with matching gift programs will match employee donations to an organization that fits into any one of the above categories. As for the rest, those companies will usually match for one or a select few from the above categories.

For example, ExxonMobil focuses its matching gift efforts on two programs: the “Educational Matching Gift Program” and the “Cultural Matching Gift Program.” While the maximum match amount for educational institutions is $22,500, the maximum match amount for cultural organizations is $2,000.

In other cases, the employer may create a list of eligible nonprofit types that concludes with “many other nonprofits” or “most 501(c)(3) organizations.”

Whatever the case may be, it’s up to nonprofits to determine their eligibility status with various local employers.

These nonprofits are typically ineligible to participate in matching gift programs, but there are exceptions.

2. Common Restrictions

While most 501(c)(3) organizations and educational nonprofits are eligible for matching gifts from a vast array of companies, there are a few common restrictions, which include:

  1. Religious Organizations. This includes houses of worship, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, or temples as well as other religious groups. Generally, an organization that is nondenominational or interdenominational and aims to advance religion is considered a religious organization. Keep reading to learn about an exception to this rule.
  2. Political Organizations. Those that qualify as political organizations include parties, committees, associations, funds, and any other organizations that are influencing or attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of an individual to a political office.
  3. Sports Teams. Oftentimes, sports teams and clubs have to rely on crowdfunding to raise the funds they need for traveling, equipment, uniforms, and so on.

If you think your nonprofit may be ineligible at first glance, there may be an exception to the rule. All it takes is a bit of research instead of giving up instantly.

For example, houses of worship are oftentimes restricted regardless of the fact that they’re automatically considered 501(c)(3) organizations. However, many faith-based organizations with major community outreach components such as food banks, job training, or homeless shelters are eligible. Learn more about matching gift eligibility for religious organizations.

The reason companies place restrictions on which organizations are eligible is fairly straightforward. Restrictions ensure that their giving budget is directed to organizations that align with both their views and their employees’ views.

For matching gift programs, a matching gift database can help your nonprofit determine its standing with all your donors' employers.

3. Help from a Matching Gift Database

Matching gifts are not something your organization wants to overlook. They can bring in substantial revenue without forcing donors to reach back into their own pockets. However, determining your nonprofit’s eligibility and staying up-to-date on your donors’ employers’ guidelines is a long, arduous process. That’s where a matching gift database comes in handy!

Any nonprofit can benefit, no matter its size! If you’re looking to invest in a database (which you should), check out Double the Donation’s comprehensive database. With data for more than 20,000 companies, it’s the most comprehensive source of matching gift forms and instructions. Here’s how it works:

  1. Your nonprofit embeds the tool across its online fundraising channels.
  2. Donors search for their employers.
  3. They receive all available forms and guidelines on their company’s giving programs.
  4. Your nonprofit maximizes its matching gift potential!

For larger nonprofits, 360MatchPro by Double the Donation may be the way to go! This tool automates the entire process by determining match eligibility with email domain screening, following up with match-eligible donors, showing you where individuals are in the matching gift process, and even putting an automated corporate giving plan in place.

With either tool, your nonprofit receives the most up-to-date guidelines and eligibility requirements for your donors’ corporate giving programs. This way, you don’t miss out on any corporate philanthropy opportunities. Ready to get started?


By learning about typical requirements and restrictions, you should now have a strong idea of your organization’s place in the matching gift world. Remember, these are just the standard practices, and there are certainly exceptions.

To know where your nonprofit stands in terms of matching gifts, stay up to date on local employers’ criteria. Now start boosting your matching gift revenue!

Additional Resources

Want to keep researching? Find out more about matching gifts with these additional resources:

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