Nonprofits have all recognized the need to thank their donors for the kind support. But is your organization taking the time to thank individuals who submit matching gift requests? Matching gifts are often an overlooked area in fundraising in general, and in donor recognition especially.
Nonprofits thank their donors with the knowledge that a little recognition can go a long way when it comes time for donations the next year. The same applies for matching gifts. If you acknowledge a matching gift, you increase the likelihood of that donor submitting a matching gift in the future.
Acknowledge Your Matching Gift Donors
There are several strategies used to thank donors for their donations all designed around showing your donors that you appreciate their matching gifts.
Check out the following list of ways to acknowledge a matching gift request.
Acknowledgment Letters and Postcards
Many nonprofits use Thank You or Acknowledgment letters to recognize their donors when they make a donation. If the donor submitted the matching gift form at the same time as their donation simply modify the letter you were originally going to send to include a message about their matching gift.
If the matching gift form is submitted by the donor after the donation acknowledgment goes out you’ll want to additionally acknowledge the receipt of the matching gift form. Not only do donors want to know that the form is being processed but it’s an additional opportunity to create a experience without asking for another monetary donation.
Similar to acknowledgement letters, postcards are an effective way to say thanks to donors for submitting a matching gift and can be very cost effective. Here’s a sample matching gift postcard sent out after the matching gift check has actually been received by the organization (often many months after the match was initially submitted).
Sample Matching Gift Postcard sent by the University of Michigan (Front Side)
Sample Matching Gift Postcard sent by the University of Michigan (Back Side)
If changing your pre-formatted donor letters is a hassle or you don’t have the funds to send a separate matching gift acknowledment, why not automate the whole process with a dedicated email for matching gift donors? It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Just a few sentences thanking them for submitting a matching gift.
Sample Matching Gift Thank You Email Sent Out By NC State
Be sure to highlight how important matching gifts are for the organization!
Newsletter Recognition Lists
If your organization sends out a regular newsletter consider creating a section where you list the overall financial impact of matching gifts which you’ve received in the last year.
If you want to take it a step further highlight the companies which provided matching gifts as well as the donors who took the time to initiate the matching gifts. This will publicly acknowledge your donors, while simultaneously increasing awareness of matching gifts among your other donors.
Recognizing Donors on Social Media
Does your organization have Twitter or Facebook accounts? Utilize your social media accounts to promote matching gifts by recognizing individuals by name who submit matching gift requests. Not only does this immediately acknowledge your matching gift donors, but it also alerts all your other followers about employee grant programs.
Save time, raise awareness, and increase donations – all with a single tweet or status update.
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.
Become a Matching Gift Expert! Grab our Free Ultimate Guide to Matching Gifts.
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.
Are you just jumping on the matching gift bandwagon? Worried about having to build a program from the ground up with all new donations?
Fear not, many of your past donors are still eligible for matched gifts.
Matching gifts don’t have to be submitted immediately after the donation is made. Although, it is to your benefit to encourage your donors to make the request as soon as possible because:
- The farther from the donation a supporter gets, the less likely he will be to follow-up with a matched gift
- The sooner your nonprofit receives the extra funds, the sooner it can put those funds to good use
Matching gift deadlines vary by company, so there’s still time to promote matching gifts to donors who contributed to your organization this year.
Donors simply have to fill out and submit their employer’s matching gift request forms.
Matching gift deadlines typically fall under one of three types:
- Within a set number of months — A company will stipulate that it will match a gift up to, for example, 3, 6, or 12 months following the initial donation.
- By the end of the calendar year — This option is fairly straightforward. Employees must submit for a match within the calendar year of the donation.
- By the end of the calendar year with an extended grace period — In this instance, a company will grant matched gifts through the end of the calendar year and then tack on an additional month or two for employees to submit their matching gift requests. Standard extensions go through end of January, February, or March, but rarely go past the 31st of March.
To get a better understanding what the guidelines look like in practice, let’s look at some examples.
Deadline #1: Within a Set Number of Months
While most companies allow donations to be submitted far after the date a donation was made, deadlines do vary. Some major companies have much more time sensitive deadlines for their matching gift programs.
Here are four companies with matching gift submission deadlines ranging from 30 days to 365 days from the donation date:
Adobe offers a matching gift program wherein the company matches donations up to $10,000 per employee per year. Employees are also able to submit grant requests for $250 for every 10 hours they volunteer with a nonprofit.
The company offers an easy to use online portal for employees to submit their matching gift requests and to log their volunteer hours.
Match request deadline: All matching gift requests must be submitted by employees within one year of the donation date.
DirectTV matches donations of up to $20,000 per employee per a year and provides grants of $10 per hour (max $250) volunteered by an employee. DirectTV has an easy to use online submission process for both programs.
Match request deadline: All matching gift requests must be submitted by employees within six months of the donation date.
Altria offers a generous matching gift program (up to 30K annually per Altria employee) as well as large volunteer grants ($500 after 25 hours of volunteering).
Match request deadline: All matching gift requests must be received by Altria’s program administrator within 90 days from the date of the gift.
Fannie Mae matches employee donations up to $5,000 annually and offers grants when employees volunteer. Unfortunately some organizations miss out on this funding since they aren’t ensuring donors submit matching gift requests in a timely manner.
Match request deadline: Fannie Mae donors and volunteers must submit a matching gift request within 30 days of the date of the donation, or by December 31st of each year, whichever is sooner.
Deadline #2: End of Calendar Year
Many companies ask that employees submit their match requests in a timely manner but will still match donations made in a calendar year until December 31st of that year.
Here are a few examples:
Aetna matches donations from employees and retirees up to $5,000 per individual per year. Aetna also enables employees to allocate a $300 grant to a nonprofit after they volunteer for 20 hours in year.
Match request deadline: Employees are encouraged to submit the matching gift request as soon as possible, but have until December 31st to submit their matching gift requests.
Freeport-McMoRan matches donations of up to $40,000 per employee per year to a wide range of nonprofits. The first $1,000 donated is matched at a 2:1 rate. Anything above $1,000 is matched at a dollar for dollar rate.
Match request deadline: While Freeport-McMoRan encourages employees to submit matching donation requests at the time of the initial donation, employees can submit matches until Dec. 31st of the year following the date of the donation.
Deadline #3: End of Calendar Year + Grace Period
Boeing offers a monetary match, a volunteer grant match, and a grant when employees participate in a fundraising event such as a walk or run for a cause. The deadlines for all three of Boeing’s employee giving programs are as follows:
Employee deadline: Boeing employees must submit gift match requests no later than January 31st of the year following the contribution / participation.
Nonprofit deadline: Organizations must verify the employee submission request no later than April 15th of the year following the contribution / participation.
Verizon matches donations up to $5,000 annually to educational institutions and up to $1,000 annually to all other nonprofits.
The Verizon Foundation also provides grants of $750 to organizations where an employee volunteers for at least 50 hours in a calendar year.
Employee deadline: Matching gift requests must be entered into the electronic matching gift system before March 31st of the year following the date of the donation.
Organization deadline: Organizations must also confirm the donation request by March 31st.
Bank of America (including Merrill Lynch) matches employee donations to nearly all nonprofits. The company also provides grants when employees volunteer on a regular basis.
Employee deadline: Employees must complete an application and have the recipient organization verify the gift. This information must be received by March 31st of the year following the date of the donation.
Organization deadline: Organizations must verify donations by May 15th of the year following the date of the donation.
Earth has always been spherical, but it took until the Greek philosopher Pythagoras in the 6th century BC to dispel the myth of a flat world. Likewise, matching gifts exist, but a lack of donor awareness could be holding your fundraising back.
The most common reason why people don’t submit matching gift requests is because they don’t know if their employer offers such a program.
Corporate giving is a big deal, with 65% of Fortune 500 companies offering matching gift programs. Furthermore, promoting matching gifts increases donation response rates by 71%, and the average donation increases by 51%. Not only do matching gifts double donations, but they stand to increase the original donations, so the matched gifts become larger, too.
Nonprofits need every dollar they can grab, and matching gifts are an effective way to increase your fundraising without demanding much out of donors. Submitting matching gifts is an easy 5-minute process, and marketing matching gifts doesn’t have to be difficult, either.
Learn how your organization can boost matching gift outreach via:
From email to website updates to direct mail, we’ve got the tips and tricks to make your matching gift marketing a success.
How do you spend no money and grab the attention of thousands of people while expending zero breath? Email provides instantaneous outreach to donors, so you can say, “Hi. What’s up? Have you thought about matching gifts today?” and people can reply just as fast. Snail mail cannot keep pace, and, at $0.49 a stamp, why would you pay to slow down?
Acquiring matching gifts through email is a lot like a game of chess. There are multiple pieces that all do different things, and, while one piece could win the game all on it’s own, it’s more likely that a focused strategy and a team effort will produce optimal results. Success hinges on a slow, steady procession of the right moves, and not reckless bombardment with all and any emails.
Email Newsletter from Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA)
Our focus is on understanding the functionality of the most important pieces of the email process in terms of marketing matching gift programs. Calendars and strategies matter, but no plan can succeed without the proper tools. We’re here to tell you about the best tools.
When you receive a gift, you say thank you, and this is a great time to promote matching gifts. The donations are fresh in the donors’ minds, and a little nudge saying that they can double their donations without shelling out another cent can go a long way.
Acknowledgement Email from the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation
Acknowledgement emails thrive because you can provide links to dedicated matching gift pages using text or graphics, such as those Double the Donation provides for its clients.
With enough space to write a little blurb or a full article, newsletters are a great place to educate donors about matching gifts.
Email Newsletter from the National Kidney Foundation
A newsletter dedicated to matching gifts is the best strategy, but splitting space with another topic or including a graphic advertising matching gifts in a newsletter about another topic can work, too. Loyal donors read your newsletter, so it’s a good place to provide in-depth information about the benefits of corporate giving.
Chances are that you send a ton of emails. Every message is an opportunity to promote matching gifts. An email signature typically details contact information, but it’s also a great place to advertise.
A simple blurb or a flashy graphic about corporate giving can increase awareness and be that needed push for donors to take a quick five minutes to submit matching gift requests.
Takeaway: Whether you market matching gifts in your email signatures, newsletters, or acknowledgement letters, emails allow you to showcase matching gifts in a prominent way.
People flock to social media to discover the internet’s best content. You don’t need to produce viral memes every day, but, if you want to promote matching gifts, you do need to provide compelling and engaging information on a consistent basis.
There are approximately as many social media outlets as there are stars in the universe (give or take a few), so it’s best to focus on the sites most relevant to promoting your matching gift program: Facebook and Twitter. Both platforms require a nuanced approach.
Why should you focus matching gift marketing efforts on social media? How do you maximize your social media efforts? Can this all be done without shelving out a sizable sum for featured advertisements? Social media is a vital, contemporary marketing approach through which you will see results without breaking the bank.
Tweet from the American Lung Association of the Midland States
Whether or not you employ a matching gift service, a simple tweet or Facebook post can spread the word to donors.
Year-End and New Year Appeals
You can’t donate in 2010 and submit a matching gift request for that donation in 2015. Donations have lifespans, so you need to promote matching gifts to eligible donors before the clock runs out.
End of Year Appeal from Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends (AARF) on Twitter
Year end and new year appeals remind donors of impending matching gift deadlines. These appeals can be made via social media, too, but email appeals allow you to chronicle the exact deadlines and provide more depth about the importance of submitting matching gift requests before it’s too late.
Takeaway: Social media is a great way to keep people up-to-date on your nonprofit’s campaigns, but this medium can also be used to promote matching gifts. Just be sure to link to a place where donors can learn more information.
A website is much more than a homepage, and, with lots of donors choosing the convenient route of donating online via credit cards, the opportunities abound to broadcast matching gift programs.
Your website is your home on the internet, and it’s where you’re required to host people everyday. While many visitors are strangers, the goal is to impress everybody and to make sure that all parties leave feeling satisfied and looking forward to their next visit.
Dedicated Matching Gift Page from ASPCA
A functional website is necessary because it’s a great place to market matching gifts. The majority of nonprofits permit online donations, so incorporating matching gift marketing alongside regular donation calls to action on your website is common sense.
Homepage and Across Your Website
For the love of matching gifts, let the people know that corporate giving exists! Or at least make it easy for them to find out on their own.
Navigation Bar on the Homepage of Lafayette Partners in Education
Banner ads function as proverbial advertisements on any webpage, and a link in your navigation bar allows donors to intuitively discover matching gifts. The links should lead to a dedicated matching gift page, where you can inform donors about all the nitty-gritty matching gift details.
Dedicated Matching Gift Page
Donors require a landing page where they can learn about matching gift programs and discover if their employers participate in corporate giving. A dedicated matching gift page can relate relevant facts, such as matching gift statistics or annual donation numbers, or allow donors to search for information via a plugin, such as Double the Donation offers.
Dedicated Matching Gift Page from the Atlanta Botanical Garden
The goal is to give donors a place both to learn about matching gifts and to be spurred into action to submit the necessary forms.
Ways to Give Page
This is where people learn about all of their donation options to your nonprofit. From regular donations to fundraisers to matching gifts, there are a ton of ways to support your organization, and you want to advertise them all.
Ways to Give Page from Alliance Theatre
Don’t forget to include matching gifts on your ways to give page, as a little link can lead to a major increase in fundraising.
In the Donation Process
The best time to promote matching gifts might be when your donors are actually making their donations. You can incorporate matching gift asks on both donation forms and confirmation screens.
There’s no time like the present, and if people are already in giving moods then why not remind them about how they can give twice as much thanks to corporate giving.
Blogs tell your nonprofit’s story, so why not share ways for donors to double their donations so that you can keep telling that story? A dedication to featured content provides in-depth stories about the importance of matching gifts while educating people on how to submit the necessary forms.
Matching Gifts Incorporated into a Blog Post
Even just including a graphic that advertises matching gifts on the side of a blog that’s about another topic can help to increase awareness.
Takeaway: Your website is the one place where most donors come to learn about your mission and, ultimately, make a donation. Promoting matching gifts on your website is a great way to encourage donors to give more and make a matching gift request.
Walt Disney tells us that, “when you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” Employees of any company should believe in that company’s mission wholeheartedly, and they should want to discuss their good work.
Seriously, why else would a person dedicate his life to any profession? Okay, some people work for money, but in the nonprofit sector the ultimate goal is not to make a profit, but to deliver a positive effect upon the world.
Matching Gift Fundraising Guideline
Matching Gift Team
Identify a leader and form a matching gift super squad. Pull people from marketing, volunteer coordinating, IT, and all departments in order to streamline your matching gift processes and implement a culture of matching gifts. With someone in charge of the process, you’ll be assured that matching gifts are being promoted to all donors, and there’s someone to answer donors’ questions about how or why matching gifts matter.
With your matching gift super squad in place, it’s time to execute. There are the typical marketing mediums, such as email, social media, and print advertising, but don’t forget about word of mouth.
Not only might your employees spread the word about matching gifts, but they may double as donors. Informing your internal staff about matching gifts reminds them to tell both each other and members about matching gifts, and, while your website, emails, or social media accounts might grab someone’s attention, nothing spurs a person to action quite like spoken assurance from a trusted face.
Your internal memberships include staff, donors, volunteers, and other members. Strategies to internally promote matching gifts all start with a dedicated matching gift coordinator or team, but these people need to spread the word and share the responsibility with everyone who is involved with your nonprofit. A dedicated matching gift staff addresses specific roles in the matching gift process and is intended to get all of your matching gift efforts streamlined such that you bring in more corporate-matched donations than ever before.
Important Information to Record to Track Matching Gift Performance
Internal promotion is far from the ‘sexy’ way to market matching gifts, but it may be the most effective strategy because it’s literally in your face and gets straight to the point.
Takeaway: Hiring a matching gift expert (or team) will ensure that you have a point of contact on everything matching gift related. This can lead to better outreach and marketing strategies for matching gifts.
Welcome to the wide world of matching gift marketing materials that require an envelope and a good old fashioned stamp. Direct mail includes letters, postcards, paper inserts, newsletters, and return envelopes, all of which might sound like archaic forms of marketing, but, when you’re marketing matching gifts both online and off, you’re reaching a wider audience, which means more matching gifts, and ain’t that the goal.
You think paper marketing is out of date? Well, does science have news for you.
Matching Gift Postcard from the University of Michigan
The debate between paper books and e-readers has raged on for years, and the dispute is analogous to deciding between print versus online marketing. Of course, employing both types of marketing works best, but this article focuses on the benefits of printed materials.
A 2014 study reported that people who use e-readers are worse at story comprehension. Readers of paper texts are better at both placing plot points in order and mentally reconstructing stories. This means that when people read paper mail, as opposed to email, they might be reading the same content, but interaction with physical ink and paper does something to help people to better remember what they’re reading.
Common sense would advise that you don’t just want people to read about matching gift programs, but that you want people to remember them.
Takeaway: Your matching gift marketing strategy shouldn’t forget direct mail. Some donors will prefer learning about their corporate philanthropy programs by reading something tangible.
The world is not flat, and your bottom line shouldn’t be, either. Properly market matching gifts through a variety of strategies in order to increase fundraising. Then you can hold a hulking sphere of cash and use it to do some good for the world.
A ways to give page is where your donors can access the complete list of options for donating to your nonprofit. Those options might include regular donations, volunteering, matching gifts, and more. A good ways to give page promotes the breadth of a nonprofit’s donation options.
Example: Cure JM’s Donation Options / Ways to Give Page
Cure JM has two giving options: you can donate or you can apply for a matching gift. The matching gift box is large, easy to read, and is well-integrated into the page layout. Users don’t have to dig around for matching gift information because the Double the Donation widget jumps right out at them.
Organization is vital to a successful ways to give page, as further demonstrated by Alliance Theatre’s page:
Example: Alliance Theatre’s Ways to Give Page
Alliance Theatre’s giving options are visible, legible, and, while they all adhere to a standard format, each stands out as its own entity. Alliance Theatre’s matching gift link is nothing fancy and doesn’t jump out as much as Cure JM’s, but it’s clean and works with the page’s color scheme and format. There is no clutter and it’s easy to recognize the presence of several giving categories.
If you have time to be a rock star, here’s an awesome ways to give page from the Colon Cancer Alliance:
You want to showcase your giving options in a clean, conspicuous manner. Graphics and simple text, as used here, do a great job of accomplishing that mission. The general idea is to promote matching gifts on your website to increase donations. Worry about function first and aesthetics later.
When you click the matching gift links on any of the above ways to give pages, where do they take you? The dedicated matching gift page for each organization, of course.
Example: National Kidney Foundation’s Dedicated Matching Gift Page
As for ways to give pages, they promote the full range of your donation options, so be sure to include matching gifts. A lack of awareness is the number one reason why donors fail to submit matching gift requests.
An article from Forbes revealed that, “92% of marketers claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites.” If you’re trying to raise awareness for matching gift programs, social media offers fruitful options.
Websites such as Facebook and Twitter allow you to appeal to your decidedly tech savvy audience, which, in our technologically reliant world, could be a bulk of your donors. Furthermore, a sizable online following offers social proof that your nonprofit is both credible and well-respected.
Marketing matching gifts through social media is both its own step and a conglomeration of all your social media tactics. Let’s take a look at the Twitter profile of CASA Pikes Peak Region to see social media versatility in action:
The tweet in the green box is an example of straight pitching matching gift programs. This is the actual call-to-action, and this is what you need to do on social media to increase matching gift awareness. The other tweets all help to build follower interest, so, when this matching-gift-specific tweet gets posted, people actually pay attention to it because they’re emotionally engaged with both the organization and the content that they share.
You can’t market matching gifts all of the time, and you shouldn’t, as your followers will grow bored. Share meaningful material and build relationships so that when the time for marketing comes it feels organic and unimposing to your followers.
What types of posts best spread the word about matching gifts? There are more social media sites than you could ever use, so we’ve selected the two main players. You’ve likely heard of these sites, and we’ll provide concrete examples of posts that will engage donors.
Facebook algorithms pick up on gimmicks, so, unless you pay to promote your content, you need to remain abreast of what Facebook will prioritize and what they will hide. With tens of thousands of possible posts to present each time a user logs on, Facebook continuously tweaks its standards for what content people see.
Facebook communications director Brandon McCormick told Businessweek that, “People would rather see posts about a sale, or a new pair of pants that’s come in. Keeping the posts relevant to the kind of business that you have is really important.” In essence, stay on task with your content in terms of what people want to see and who you are as a nonprofit. Talk about matching gift programs, but in a creative way.
Example Facebook post from the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA)
CMTA include both a link to their matching gift page and a conspicuous graphic. It’s hard to miss their appeal for matching gifts and it is simple to navigate to the applicable matching gift webpage.
Example Facebook post from the Lazarex Cancer Foundation
Lazarex provides on-point text and a graphic that links to their matching gift page. Promotion need not be any more complicated than this.
Example Facebook post from the National Kidney Foundation
If a matching gift post could be a rockstar, this would be Kurt Cobain. Much like the CMTA post, the National Kidney Foundation combines informative text with an attention grabbing graphic, but look at all those Likes, Comments, and Shares.
The graphic is split in two, with the question mark grabbing the attention and the white text holding the attention. Chances are that most people will check out the graphic first, but then they’ll likely read the text above, too, and see the link. That link takes donors to a dedicated matching gift page, which is a crucial step towards landing more donations. Donor engagement with this post helps it to appear on more newsfeeds, so more donors become aware of matching gifts, which should lead to increased fundraising success. You want to go viral.
Additional Matching Gift Facebook Post Templates
- We sincerely appreciate all donations to [Your Organization’s Name]. Did you know that your generosity has the potential to be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled? Check to see if your employer offers a matching gift program. [Insert Your Double the Donation Matching Gift URL]
- A huge thanks to all of our donors, and a double thanks to those who submitted matching fund requests. Does your employer offer a matching gift program? Check today. [Insert Your Double the Donation Matching Gift URL]
- What do Microsoft, Bank of America, IBM, and Verizon have in common? They all match employee donations to nonprofit organizations. If you donate, or have donated, to us and work for one of these four companies, your employer will double your donation. Many major employers offer similar programs. Search to discover if your employer offers a matching gift program, as well as to gain access to program guidelines, how-to instructions, and relevant forms. Thank you for taking five minutes to double your donation. [Insert Your Double the Donation Matching Gift URL]
In addition to text, graphics help to grab readers’ attentions. If your image doubles as a clickable link, that’s even better.
140 characters is not a lot of space, but it’s enough room to get creative about matching gift appeals.
Example Twitter post from the Center for Puppetry Arts
No need to complicate matters. A concise call to action and a link is all you need.
Example Twitter post from the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation
The tweet’s link sends the donor to the below dedicated matching gift page, which you can learn more about with our comprehensive guide.
Example dedicated matching gift page from the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation
The link is the tweet’s call to action in action. The goal is to earn a click in order to take donors to where it’s a simple five minute process of discovering if their employers match gifts and submitting the necessary forms.
Additional matching gift Twitter post templates
- Did you donate to us in 2014? There’s still time to submit a matching gift request to your employer. Click, don’t scroll! [Insert Your Double the Donation Matching Gift URL]
- It takes only a few minutes to submit corporate employee matching gift forms. Have you submitted yours? [Insert Your Double the Donation Matching Gift URL]
- It’s February – do you love us? We love you, too! Click here to see if your company will double your donation: [Insert Your Double the Donation Matching Gift URL]
Facebook has the largest community. Twitter is the modern way donors stay up to date with the organizations they care about. Leverage your social following with well-crafted posts and you can increase corporate matching donations.
Your homepage is the first thing people see when they visit your site, and priority number one is letting people know who you are and what you do. Part of what you do is receive donations, and matching gifts for those donations, so including links to information about matching gift programs is a good idea.
The two approaches (which can be combined, of course) are placing matching gift links such that people can find them if they are looking for them (navigation bars) and inserting links so that they jump out at site visitors, such that the link is more or less an advertisement for matching gifts (banner ads).
Let’s take a closer look at each approach through proven strategies.
Every useful website has a navigation bar that helps people to discover relevant information. Including a link to matching gift programs in your navigation bar puts matching gifts in a visible location where donors can easily find and access the information. A link in the navigation bar won’t advertise matching gifts to unknowing donors, but if a donor is on your site and looking for how to apply for a matching gift then he will easily be able to navigate to a page to learn how.
To get a better idea of how navigation bars work, here’s an example from Lafayette Partners in Education:
Screenshot of Lafayette Partners in Education’s Website
This is a clean, modern site, with an easily visible and useable navigation bar. They incorporate matching gifts under the fundraising tab, so it’s part of a larger topic. This link won’t function as an advertisement, but, for someone who is looking for matching gifts or ways which they can contribute to the organization, the website provides an intuitive way to access that information.
When a website visitor clicks on the “Matching Gift Program” link they’re taken to Lafayette Partner In Education’s dedicated matching gift page:
Screenshot of Lafayette Partners in Education’s Dedicated Matching Gift Page
If you want to advertise matching gifts on your homepage then banner ads are a great way to go. A banner ad will catch eyes and make people think about matching gifts. This informs donors about matching gifts when they may be visiting your site for other purposes.
Here’s a banner ad in action from Autism Speaks:
Screenshot of an Event Page for Autism Speaks
Highlighted by the green box, this banner ad works because it’s clean, easy to read, and its color stands out from the color scheme of the homepage. People notice when something stands out in a crowd. A 2011 study in the journal Emotion claimed that reaction times become faster and more forceful when people see a bright color, so the choice of color was well selected. Little factors such as color can play vital roles in whether or not people respond to your banner ads, so if you have the time to get intricate with your banners it will be time well spent.
Autism Speaks also created their own custom matching graphics to include throughout their website. Examples of individualized banners used by Autism Speaks include:
Everything about these banners is clean and easy to read. The iconic puzzle piece logos add a touch of intimate personality that separates the images from plain text graphics. The difference in shapes, square versus rectangle, highlights that your banner can and should be tailored to the size that works best on your website.
If you don’t have the time or the resources to create a banner ad, Double the Donation provides a host of banner options, such as:
Still clean and basic, this banner adds simple details, such as a faded color scheme and the orange ribbon in the top right corner. The image works great on donation confirmation screens, and make sure to link the graphic to your dedicated matching gift page.
The picture of the gift box is enough to signal to the user that this banner has something to do with giving or gifts prior to the user engaging with the white text. And the white text is easy to read and the large, capitalized letters, which will likely be the first words you read, tell you exactly what the box is addressing. As for the psychological effects of the color, green is commonly associated with balance and harmony, such as the balance a matching gift brings to the original donation and the harmony between you and donors. There are serious benefits to thinking out the minor details of banner ads in order to leverage major psychological impacts.
Your nonprofit does not have to advertise for matching gifts on its homepage, but it’s a good idea if you want to raise awareness for matching gifts. Regardless, including information about matching gifts in a logical place, such as a navigation bar, is a must.
Does your organization host a fundraising gala or special event? If so have you ever wondered whether the tickets and donations made during that event are eligible for matching gift programs?
We recently received an email from a woman named Sheila wondering whether individuals can apply for matching gifts from their employers for money donated through special fundraising events. Her question was as follows:
One of my organization’s fundraising events involves selling tiles and allowing parents and their children to decorate the tiles. We then affix the tiles to a wall as a way to display the artwork and recognize our donors. Is the purchase price of the tile eligible for corporate matching gift programs?
While this specific question may appear unique, many organizations raise funds in similar ways.
Donations at Annual Fundraising Galas and Special Events:
- The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association gives individuals an opportunity to name a Zoo resident. For donations of between $1,000-$50,000, you can name an animal, receive recognition in the zoo publication, receive a photo of you with the animal, and get a VIP tour.
- The Atlanta Botanical Garden has its Garden of Eden Gala, the Garden’s largest annual fund-raiser. Tickets range in price from a few hundred dollars to $25,000 to be the presenting sponsor. Benefits include tickets to the Ball, a Patron Party, and much more.
- New York Collaborates for Autism hosts its annual “Night of Too Many Stars”. Celebrities such as Jon Stewart, Katie Perry, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Seth Rogan, and many others auction off once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to hang out with a celebrity. For instance, becoming “best friends with Amy Poehler & Tina Fey” for an evening was auctioned for thousands of dollars.
Are these Donations Match Eligible?
It may surprise you, but many companies with matching gift programs will match these donations!
Why there’s confusion: If you or your donors look at many matching gift forms you may notice a sentence along the lines of “the Corporation will not match tickets or subscriptions.” So if your organization is a symphony selling a concert ticket or a science museum selling an IMAX ticket, companies won’t match the ticket price.
The reason for this is that donors are receiving a tangible benefit that would be charged by other for-profit organizations. For instance, an IMAX movie could be compared to a regular movie ticket and the symphony could be compared to a sporting ticket.
But why are gala tickets and special event tickets often eligible?
If you look at the fine print on many nonprofits’ special event tickets you’ll notice that it mentions a tax deductible amount for each ticket. For example a ticket to the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden of Eden Gala was $475 but amounts exceeding $200.00 per Ball ticket and $50 per Patron Party were eligible for a charitable income tax deduction.
We wrote an entire article on calculating the tax deductible matching gift value but in general at galas you must subtract the cost of a similar meal and any gifts that guests may receive.
Bottom Line on Getting Gala Tickets Matched: A significant percentage of a gala ticket’s purchase price is tax deductible and is often eligible to be matched by an employee’s company but corporate guidelines do vary by company.
Promoting Matching Gift Programs at Galas:
Unfortunately for organizations it’s less common to receive employee matching gifts for galas and special events than regular donations or annual fund contributions. As with all donations, you have to raise awareness and make it easy for donors to submit matching gift requests, but there’s an extra component when it comes to galas and special events.
Even if an individual knows about his or her company’s matching gift program, they rarely realize a portion of the ticket is tax deductible and often match eligible. Thus you need to promote this fact.
Matching Gifts for Fundraising Events:
One big fundraising opportunity is to take advantage of corporate match programs where companies match the fundraising efforts of its employees. Yes you heard that right — some companies have programs in place where if their employees go out and fundraise for your cause then the company will match the entire amount up to a certain limit.
These companies include:
- British Petroleum
- State Street
Five Easy Ways a Nonprofit can Promote Matching Gifts to Special Event Attendees:
- Include the tax deductible amount on the ticket with a line such as “Did you know $XXXX of your ticket is tax deductible? If your employer offers a matching gift program it may be eligible to be matched.”
- If you subscribe to Double the Donation’s matching gift service, consider setting up a computer with your organization’s matching gift webpage up and easily accessible by donors.
- Does your organization manage a payment station at the Gala where donors go and pay for auction items? Make sure your staff ask if the individual or his or her spouse works for a company with a matching gift program.
- Do you provide donors with an acknowledgement letter after they buy a ticket or make an additional donation? If so, this is a great time to encourage donors to see if their employer or their spouse’s employer offers a matching gift program.
We recently had a reader ask Double the Donation about how to strengthen relationships with corporations that offer generous matching gift contributions to their organization. She said she wished she had more ways to reach out to these companies post-matching gift donation to show them how a strong relationship could provide some great public relations benefits.
This is a great point! When corporations offer matching gift donations to a nonprofit organization, they may not realize how positive of an impact the contributions are having on the work of the nonprofit. It’s important for nonprofits to leverage matching gifts into positive PR for both you and the corporation to ensure future collaboration, and therefore, a stronger nonprofit-corporate relationship.
Suggestions of “Extra Thanks” for Generous Matching Gift Donations
Does your organization have one corporation in particular (or even a few!) that really stands out in the field of matching gift donations? It’s important that this company knows how big of an impact they are having on the work you do, and sometimes a simple, albeit wonderful, acknowledgement letter (that acts as a tax-deductible receipt, too) is not going to emphasize your thanks enough. So, what else can you do?
A simple and highly visible form of extra thanks is a press release to local publications. This could include information about the circumstances of the donation, how big of a matching gift partner they are (if, for example, you have many donors who work for one company that offers matching gifts on a recurring basis), and the kind of programs and nonprofit work the donations help progress.
And don’t forget to highlight the company on your own website. It’s not only positive publicity for the company but also encourages your other donors to see if their employers will match their donations.
The important thing here is that the company or companies providing matching gifts to your nonprofit organization are getting a public, positive recognition for the donations they make. They are more likely to donate in other capacities in the future, as well, when they see the kind of public acknowledgement they can get by donating to your organization.
This one is seemingly a no-brainer, but it’s always amazing what kind of far-reaching impacts a Facebook or Twitter post can have on relationships. By thanking a corporation for their generosity with matching gifts and including the positive impact they are having on the community, your nonprofit is taking an extra (and again, simple) step to show the company and the public how thankful you are for their commitment to the cause.
Here’s a sample thank you post from the Children’s Craniofacial Association:
In case you can’t read the text on the image it says
It’s #ThankfulThursday & CCA thanks @Corning Inc. for the Foundation Matching Gifts Program, doubling employee donations to CCA!
It was retweeted four times and favorited six times, including from the main Corning account.
Donation Page Acknowledgements
On your website’s donation pages, you could include information about some of the benefits of matching gifts (for your donors), and also mention some of the top-giving companies in the area. This shows many donors the commitment of their employers to the community, which in turn increases the chances an individual will donate to your cause and also ask their company for a matching gift. Increasing the number of eyes that see a corporation’s name in a positive light also increases the likelihood of forming a stronger relationship with a company. Positive PR for a company (by a nonprofit organization) is a huge key for ensuring future collaboration.
This is another easy way to recognize some of the major community players in the matching gift arena. Even if these companies are not sponsoring your charitable event, just mentioning the impact they are having on the work you do (without outshining the actual corporate sponsors, of course) is going to make a difference. Every company wants a positive image in the community because this increases their like-ability, and therefore their success. When your nonprofit organization is a key factor in increasing their success, the bond between the two will be stronger than ever.
Creating a Stronger Relationship
The above suggestions are just a few extra ways to say thanks to the corporations who have a strong commitment to matching gift donations. When a company sees the effort your nonprofit organization is putting forth to thank them for their generosity, it increases the chances of future giving, whether it’s with more matching gifts, grants, or even some form of sponsorship.
Make sure you’re saying thank you – it really can make all the difference!