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Donor Awareness Matching Gifts

Nonprofits: How to Increase Donor Awareness about Matching Gift Programs

Modify your DonorPerfect donation confirmation emails to include matching gifts

Here at Double the Donation, we often write about the benefits of corporate giving programs, but we also touch upon marketing these programs to your donors. Informing individuals about the possibility of literally doubling donations via matching gift opportunities is step one to extra financial support, but step two is ensuring that these marketing efforts are working!

We’ll touch upon some common marketing efforts to get your donors ramped up to submit that matching gift request form to their employer, but also how to tell if your strategy is working.

 

Marketing Matching Gift Programs

Getting your donors aware about matching gift opportunities is the biggest obstacle your organization will have to overcome in order to receive more funds through these programs. There are billions (yes, billions!) of unclaimed dollars from corporate giving programs because donors are just simply not aware that they can ask their employers to match donations to eligible nonprofit organizations.

Here are three easy and effective marketing strategies to raise donor awareness about matching gift programs.

Include Matching Gift Information in Acknowledgement Letters

If your nonprofit organization is not already including information about matching gift opportunities in donor acknowledgement letters, then it’s a super easy way to start your marketing campaign. When an individual donates money to your organization, the hard part is done. Now you just need to get them to submit a matching gift request form to their employer – but how do you get them to do that?

Include a blurb about matching gifts in your acknowledgement letter. You’ve already got a committed audience, and since the acknowledgement letter doubles as a tax receipt, you can almost guarantee that the donor will read the letter to skim over key points. Make sure you emphasize that requesting a matching gift from their employer is easy and effective. Direct them to your Double the Donation webpage to allow them to check in just a couple of quick steps if their employer offers a matching gift program, and the steps they need to follow to do so.

It can be as simple as this: “Did you know that many corporations offer employee giving programs where they match donations to [your organization’s name]? The tax deductible component of your membership is normally eligible to be matched as well. Check with your employer today to see if they provide matching gifts!”

Make sure to mention that many companies now offer the opportunity to submit these forms online, so that makes the request that much easier. Your odds that a donor requests a matching gift from their employer are so much better if they’ve made a gift recently, so make sure your acknowledgement letters are timely!

 

Strategically Place Matching Gift Information on Donation Web Pages 

As with the above method, you want to make sure to include matching gift information in places that your donors (actual and potential) can see and process quickly. If an individual is on your organization’s donation page, then chances are that they didn’t end up there by accident. This is a great place to let them know that once they commit to the donation, then asking for a match from their employer will only take a few extra minutes. Donors are more likely to pull the trigger when they know it won’t be a long and arduous process, especially once they’ve already made a gift.

Put blurbs about matching gift opportunities on your donation pages, including on the “Donate Now” pages, and especially on the “Thank you for donating!” pages. It would be great as a “Next Steps” option.

 

Engage Your Donors on Social Media

Does your organization have a Facebook page? Twitter? YouTube? All of these are great places to let your donors know how grateful you are for their commitment to your organization’s mission, and a great place to let them know that they can literally double their donation by simply requesting a matching gift from employers. First and foremost, say thank you! This is a crucial part to ensure that they keep reading and engaging with your organization.

Post stories about how the money raised for your organization is helping grow your mission. Include asides about how matching gifts can doubly impact the cause! Facebook is a great place for short posts about matching gifts; Twitter is great for quick and succinct blurbs with links; and YouTube is a great place to submit a video thanking your donors for their contributions and extra efforts in matching gifts!

With social media, the marketing possibilities are endless.

 

Measuring the Impact of Marketing Efforts

The best advice we have on measuring your marketing impact is to create a chart. Create a graph of some kind (whatever your boss prefers, whether it’s a bar graph, a pie chart, or a nifty line chart in Excel) with the total amount of matching gifts received last year versus this year. Or last month versus this month. Use any time span that can really show you a difference between your pre- and post-marketing efforts. Can you see a discernible difference in the number of matching gifts being sent in?

Of course you can download our free Microsoft Excel Matching Gift Tracker and Dashboard >

You can also create a survey (there are many free online software tools) that allow you to send a thank you email to a donor who had submitted a matching gift request. Ask them how they learned about matching gifts, and include all of your marketing efforts, as well as an “Other” box with a free response option. This will help you realize which efforts are worth investing more time in (or at least focusing more on in the future), and which may be fruitless.

Your organization will also be able to identify if a majority of matching gifts are coming from one company in particular, or from a wide array of employers. This is notable because if your matching gifts seem to be coming from one employer, then it’d be a good idea to publicly recognize it as a valuable donor and partner to your organization.

There are a variety of ways to market matching gifts to your donors, and several other ways to measure the impact of these marketing efforts. Too much money goes unclaimed by nonprofit organizations due to a lack of awareness on the part of the donors about corporate giving programs. This shouldn’t be the case! Make sure you’re educating your constituents on a consistent and appropriate basis, and you could be well on your way to a high increase in the number of matching gift requests submit.

For more tips on how to to keep up with your marketing efforts and better retain your donor base, check out this webinar from Aplos.

Learn more about best practices for matching gifts resources, blurbs, and verbiage.

Matching Gift Wording, Text, & Verbiage: Best Practices

As with any type of outreach, the wording in your matching gift appeals is vital and should be considered when revamping your organization’s matching gift strategy.

Matching gifts are a great source of additional revenue for nonprofits. In fact, an estimated $2 to $3 billion is donated through matching gift programs every year. Choosing not to take advantage of corporate philanthropy could cause your organization is to miss out on a lot of revenue!

Choosing the right message when promoting matching gifts can be the determining factor in whether or not a donor looks up their employer’s match program. Considering this, you should take time to carefully craft your outreach.

To make sure you send the right message, familiarize yourself with recommendations for:

  1. Matching Gift Resources
  2. Matching Gift Blurbs
  3. Matching Gift Verbiage
  4. Finding Matching Gift Opportunities

By learning the specific language of effective appeals, your nonprofit will be one step closer to maximizing its revenue potential.

Ready to revamp your matching gift outreach? Let’s dive in!
The resources you use to make matching gift appeals is as important as blurbs and verbiage.

1. Matching Gift Resources

The first step to boosting your revenue through matching gift appeals is by producing effective copy. In other words, you need to create multiple well-written resources for donors (and potential donors) to learn about matching gifts.

If you want to create high-traffic matching gift outreach, go to where the most supporters are: online! Your website is likely the first impression most people have of your organization, so make it count! From there, you can coordinate your outreach to include other online outlets.

Let’s go through a few best practices for developing effective matching gift appeals using your online presence.

A Dedicated Matching Gift Page

An easy way to increase the visibility of your matching gift promotion is to create a dedicated page for matching gifts. This should be located either on your website or by using a custom match page on Double the Donation’s servers.

Across your marketing efforts, you can include links to this page to help inform donors of their employers’ match programs. On the page, you may want to include the basics of matching gifts and instructions for typical match programs.

Also, if you subscribe to a matching gift service (like Double the Donation), don’t forget to embed the search tool. That way, users won’t have to go out of their way to research their companies’ programs.

Check out this great example of a matching gift page from Goodwill:

Create a dedicated matching gift page to enhance your matching gift appeals.

In addition to linking to your matching gift page on other resources, include a link in your navigation bar. When adding a link in your navigation bar, the exact wording your organization uses is vital. It can mean the difference between a supporter clicking the link or moving on without any further thought.

We recommend using “Matching Gifts,” “Double your Donation,” or “Matching Gift Company Search.” On the other hand, we don’t recommend nonprofits use wording such as “Corporate Matching” or “Corporate Giving” since these don’t resonate with individual donors.

Emails

As an established nonprofit, you should already be using email to maintain contact with donors. Your team may know the general best email practices, but do you know the best email practices for marketing matching gifts?

The text you use in your outreach should be persuasive but to the point. Make sure to emphasize certain points with bolding and convey the importance of matching gifts for your organization.

For instance, check out this newsletter about matching gifts from the National Kidney Foundation:

Make sure to use persuasive but concise wording in your matching gift resources and appeals like emails.

Takeaway: The text you use in your matching gift appeals is a vital component of fundraising. It should be straightforward and to the point but should also be persuasive.

For more ways and examples of promoting matching gifts, visit this guide to marketing matching gifts.

The matching gift blurbs you send out are significant like the resources you provide and the verbiage you use.

2. Matching Gift Blurbs

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of a blurb before. While you may have never heard this terminology, you’ve probably come across a blurb at some point. It’s a short piece of writing, usually accompanying a piece of creative work. A few examples might be:

  • An advertisement about matching gifts that appears alongside your online resources.
  • A paper insert in your physical communications.
  • Team members’ email signatures.

Your matching gift blurb doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, brevity is important. You want to get the message across before the reader loses interest. Let’s go into how well-written blurbs are an effective way to promote matching gifts.

Inserts

If you send emails or letters to your donors that promote matching gifts or volunteer grants, consider including a matching gift blurb that accompanies these works. These are known as inserts. Otherwise, your organization will miss an important opportunity.

Take a look at this insert from the National Kidney Foundation:

Include matching gift appeals in more of your outreach by creating blurbs.

Inserts don’t necessarily have to be entirely relevant to the communication itself. For instance, if your nonprofit is sending out its monthly newsletter or if you’re sending a donation acknowledgment letter, include an insert with a brief sentence or two about matching gifts.

The point is, blurbs should entice the reader to research their company’s giving program.

Blurbs on Donation Forms

Another great place to promote matching gifts is on your online donation form. At this point in the process, the user is already ready to donate, so why wouldn’t they want to increase their donations without having to reach back into their own pockets?

Plus, they might even give more after learning about their match eligibility. In fact, 1 in 3 donors indicates they’d give a larger gift if a match is applied to their donation.

When formatting your donation page, consider this example of a donation form blurb from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:
Donation forms are a great place to include a matching gift appeal blurb.

If you’re subscribed to Double the Donation’s services, your donation page is the perfect place to include the search tool! This matching gift database tool will point your donors to valuable information about their employers’ matching gift programs. Jump ahead to find out more about this tool and how it can help promote matching gifts.

Takeaway: Blurbs, such as paper inserts or donation forms, are an effective, quick way to let donors know about matching gifts. Whenever you see the opportunity to promote corporate giving, do it, and make sure you get straight to the point.

If you need a bit more insight into effective outreach strategies, check out these examples from nonprofits who do a great job of marketing matching gifts

While resources and blurbs are important, the matching gift verbiage you use makes for even more effective appeals.

3. Matching Gift Verbiage

When making an appeal to donors (or even potential donors), the wording of your appeal is important. However, it goes a bit deeper than this. Breaking it down further, your choice of verbs can affect the success of a campaign.

People often need a call-to-action in order to get involved. The key is to ask your donors to do something, to somehow take action. Matching gift appeals need action verbs. Otherwise, donors won’t be entirely sure what their next steps should be.

In an email or on a webpage, phrases like “Click Here” or “Read More” tell your audience what they need to do in order to help the cause. Plus, they create a sense of urgency. In online appeals, a button that links directly to content can be very useful.

ASPCA does a great job of calling its supporters to action on its website. Check out the organization’s dedicated matching gift page:

Online matching gift appeals require strong verbiage that calls readers to action.

On paper, use the same type of language, but be even more specific about next steps. For example, here’s a postcard from the Florida Institute of Technology:

When creating your matching gift appeals, include action verbs.
Takeaway: Supporters want to help. Too often, they are held back by a lack of information and no clear directions for how they can be of service. Using the right, clear verbiage can help clarify the steps your donors need to take next.

In order to create effective matching gift resources, blurbs, and verbiage, you'll need to identify your match opportunities with a matching gift database.

4. Finding Matching Gift Opportunities

When revamping your matching gift strategy, a database (like Double the Donation) can help you pinpoint these opportunities. That way, you can direct your matching gift outreach to those whose employers offer a giving program.

Double the Donation’s service is designed to help nonprofits raise more money from employee matching gift programs. Our tools can help your organization raise donor awareness and make it easier for your donors to submit matching gifts. Once you embed it across your online fundraising channels, here’s what the tool does:

  • Enables donors to search for more than 20,000 companies.
  • Provides updated forms and guidelines for each company.
  • Allows your nonprofit to identify match opportunities.
  • And more!

Larger organizations may benefit even more from 360MatchPro by Double the Donation. This fully-automated tool pinpoints match-eligible donors through email domain screening, enables live tracking of where donors are in the match process, automatically contacts eligible donors, and more! That way, you won’t have to create quite as many matching gift appeals yourself!

Either tool is great for pinpointing the best possible moment to make matching gift appeals to specific donors. Think your organization could benefit?


Matching gifts are often overlooked by nonprofits and supporters alike. Learning about the best resource, blurb, and verbiage practices is just the first step in boosting your matching gift revenue.

Now, apply these best practices to your corporate giving appeals and reach your matching gift potential!

Additional Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about matching gifts, check out the following additional resources:

Get the answers to all your corporate matching gift program questions.

8 Corporate Matching Gift Program Questions (and Answers!)

Corporate philanthropy plays a major role in nonprofits’ fundraising. These programs are often analyzed through the nonprofit perspective, but what about the company perspective?

Taking advantage of matching gifts can be tricky for nonprofits when there aren’t clear guidelines provided, so this is where the responsibility shifts to the corporations implementing these programs. Businesses need well-designed giving programs that cover all the necessary bases. That way, your business leaders won’t be bombarded with an influx of questions by local nonprofits and your employees.

Creating a new philanthropy program, or even just revamping your current strategy, requires hard work mixed with a solid understanding of matching gifts.

Here are 8 common questions from corporations looking to start a new employee matching gift program:

  1. What percentage of companies offer a corporate matching gift program?
  2. What’s the typical gift matching rate?
  3. How much does a matching gift program cost per employee?
  4. How do corporations benefit from matching gift and volunteer grant programs?
  5. How can we design a best-in-class corporate giving program?
  6. Should we use a matching gift or volunteer grant administrator?
  7. What are the main services provided by software?
  8. Which companies use vendors vs. administer programs internally?

Ready to find out all the answers? Let’s dive in!

Before creating your matching gift plan, take a look at how common these corporate giving programs are.

1. What percentage of companies offer a corporate matching gift program?

The percentage of companies with matching gift programs in place varies from industry-to-industry. Company size also plays a major role in how prevalent matching gift programs are.

Large companies are far more likely than small, family-owned businesses to offer comprehensive benefit programs. Thus, they’re more likely to offer matching gift programs.

If you look at the Fortune 500 companies, about 65% will match employee donations to a wide range of nonprofits. As you get into small companies, the percentage decreases substantially since sole proprietorships and 5-person companies rarely offer these programs.

The prevalence of matching gift programs also varies by industry. Companies with skilled labor forces (such as tech, pharmaceuticals, and banks) are more likely to offer matching gift programs than industries with lower-wage employees (such as restaurants, low-cost retailers, agricultural production).

In short, the percentage of companies that offer matching gift programs depends on a few factors, but any business can offer them!

For references to help design your company’s program, click here to see some of the world’s leading matching gift programs.

Learn common ratios for companies' matching gift programs.

2. What’s the typical gift matching rate?

By far, the standard is a 1:1 match. Other companies may offer higher match rates (e.g. 2:1) or lower match rates (e.g. .5:1), though.

We asked Adam Weinger, Double the Donation’s president, and he said:

“The number I throw out casually when on the phone is 90% [of matches] are 1:1 and then 10% are either greater or less than 1:1. This calculation can get a bit tricky since some companies have different match ratios for certain employee segments (retirees vs. current employees) or different segments of the nonprofit space which they match to (higher ed. vs. arts & cultural) based on their corporate philanthropy goals.”

In other words, your company should offer at least the standard 1:1 match if you want to catch the eyes of well-rounded potential employees.

How much does it cost to implement a matching gift program?

3. How much does a matching gift program cost per employee?

There are a ton of variables that affect how much a matching gift program costs, so there’s no set number for how much or how little your company might spend.

The largest factor is the “maximum annual match per employee”. For the sake of simplicity, assume a standard match ratio of 1:1. The maximum amounts matched annually per employee are all over the board. Most companies fall into the range of $1,000 – $15,000 max per employee per year, but it isn’t unusual to see maximums of $250, $500, $20,000, or even $30,000.

Another factor is employee participation rates. Just because a company offers a matching gift program doesn’t mean its employees are aware of it. Oftentimes, nonprofits will take the initiative on promoting these opportunities, but it’s also up to your company to raise awareness for your program, too.

Employee participation rates are also all over the board. A big factor in this is how well a company promotes employee matching gifts.

At some companies, most employees are aware of offered benefits. For instance, Microsoft is a leader in sharing and promoting matching gift information to its employees, while employees at other companies may have never heard of such programs.

A third factor is how much giving potential a company’s average employee has. For instance, think of a hedge fund vs. a fast-food chain.

Even if both companies have $50,000 maximums for all employees and have the same level of promotion to employees, the average charitable donation being matched is going to vary significantly.

The point is, no two matching gift programs cost exactly the same. It’s largely dependent on your maximum annual match per employee, employee participation rates, and your employees’ giving potential among a handful of other factors.

Companies can benefit from matching gift programs, too!

4. How do corporations benefit from matching gift and volunteer grant programs?

Businesses benefit in a number of ways from offering giving programs. To fully answer this question, take a look at these two comprehensive articles:

  1. The impact of matching gifts on employee engagement
  2. The importance of increasing employee engagement using corporate giving programs

The largest reason for implementing this type of program is maintaining a positive public image and relationship with your community. However, there are a number of other benefits including:

  • Developing a reputation for giving back in the community where your corporation is based.
  • Establishing a program that directs corporate dollars to the organizations that employees are passionate about.
  • Encouraging employee philanthropy and volunteerism.
  • Increasing employee morale and retention.
  • Receiving tax incentives.

There are a number of reasons businesses should implement a giving program. More than likely, your company will find at least one reason that strikes a chord and motivates you to start your own program!

To create a well-designed matching gift program, consider these tips.

5. How can we design a best-in-class corporate giving program?

There is no one right way to design a best-in-class corporate giving program. It depends widely on your company’s wants and needs, but all businesses should start with four elements.

1. Eligible Nonprofits

Employees are passionate about different causes. Allow them to select from any 501(c)(3) nonprofit or accredited educational institution or K-12 school. Typical categories that companies specify include:

  • Higher education institutions.
  • K-12 schools.
  • Arts and cultural organizations.
  • Environmental groups.
  • Health and human service organization.
  • Civic and community-based nonprofits.

Remember that what’s important to you, the program administrator, isn’t necessarily the same as what is important to your company’s employees. Take their values into consideration when designing your program.

2. Types of Programs Offered

Employees give back to their communities in different ways. Some choose to donate monetarily while others may prefer to volunteer. Offer a variety of employee giving programs including:

When you offer a number of programs, you expand your employees’ options for investing in their community.

3. Eligible Employees

It’s considered standard to offer corporate giving programs to full-time employees, but don’t forget to include part-time employees, retirees, and spouses as they can be some of the most active donors and volunteers. Giving these valuable contributors access to your program can really help raise your company’s reputation within your community.

Click on the following companies for samples of how they’re leading their respective industries with best-in-class employee matching gift and overall employee giving programs:

4. A Good Design

Designing well-thought-out program guidelines isn’t enough. For the best possible outcome, there must be a concentrated effort to promote your employee giving programs internally to employees and externally to the community your company is supporting.

Measuring your company’s internal success (i.e. promoting the matching gift program and ensuring the process is user-friendly) can be done by looking at your company’s employee participation rate on a regular basis. When you launch your corporate matching gift program, make sure you have a well-designed outreach strategy planned for the entire company throughout the upcoming year. Otherwise, your employees and your community may overlook your program.

Consider these corporate giving administrators to help you implement your own matching gift program.

6. Should we use a matching gift or volunteer grant program administrator?

Double the Donation is focused on helping nonprofits maximize donations received from existing matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

Although we don’t set up or manage corporate programs, there are a number of companies out there that do cater to corporations. 3rd party matching gift and volunteer grant program vendors include:

If you find you’re having trouble setting up your company’s program, it may be worthwhile to look into hiring a program administrator to guide you through the process. Do whatever makes sense for your business depending on your budget and time.

Learn how software can help your company implement its own matching gift program.

7. What are the main services provided by matching gift software?

Each of the major software vendors offers a suite of services. They’re designed to help new companies create employee matching gift programs, as well as help companies with existing programs improve and refine their matching gift strategies and goals.

These services help companies solve all aspects, both technical and non-technical, of administering match programs, including:

  • Program guidelines
  • Implementation of an online portal for employees to track volunteer hours and request matching gifts
  • Up-to-date reports
  • Customer support for employees
  • Verification of the nonprofits’ eligibility statuses
  • Grant processing

Software isn’t vital for your matching gift or volunteer grant strategy, but it can certainly help fill in the gaps and quicken the process! If your business is struggling to implement a new program or refine its current program, it may be time to implement some new tech.

Decide whether or not your company needs software to get its matching gift program up and running.

8. Which companies use vendors, and which administer programs internally?

Historically, the larger a company is, the more likely they are to use a software vendor. For instance, most Fortune 100 companies use a vendor while smaller, mom-and-pop shops almost always manage their programs internally.

However, over the past few years, smaller companies have been increasingly choosing newer software to help establish their programs. More often than not, recently released software offers excellent cloud-based services for a reasonable price.

There’s a number of software providers on the market, so make sure your top pick offers what you need before you buy. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a system that doesn’t do what you need it to, or you’ll be overpaying for extra features you don’t even need.

To start your research, take a look at this list of the main vendors who provide corporate philanthropy software to corporations.


There’s a lot to discover about how matching gifts and volunteer grants can enhance your corporate giving program!

Remember, there is a range of benefits from implementing a corporate giving program. Design yours carefully so that you cover all your bases and set your business up for success.

Check out these helpful resources to get started:

  • Mercy Corps Matching Gift Page. Want to see how nonprofit organizations incorporate matching gifts into their fundraising model? Try out Mercy Corps’ employee matching gift page to get an idea of how your employees might discover their matching gift eligibility.
  • Top 10 Volunteer Grant Companies. Looking for a corporate blueprint of a successful volunteer grant program? Search no further! Here’s a list of the top 10 companies with volunteer grant programs in place that your business should emulate.
  • Top 12 Matching Gift Companies. Take a look at these major companies that offer matching gift programs to their employers. Their philanthropy approach may spark a few guideline ideas when designing your program.