After introductory research, you now understand the basic concept of matching gifts. You know that through a matching gift program, a company will match donations made by employees to a range of nonprofits.
A general understanding of corporate giving is a great foundation for maximizing nonprofit revenue. However, in order to succeed in acquiring matching gifts, you’ll need to understand the nitty-gritty elements of program stipulations.
The amount that a company will match is based on a combination of the matching gift ratios, maximums, and minimums. From there, companies decide their specific guidelines for employee eligibility, nonprofit eligibility, forms, and deadlines.
Let’s break down those components based on what we typically see in matching gift programs:
- Match Ratio
- Maximum Match Amount
- Minimum Match Amount
- Employee Eligibility
- Nonprofit Eligibility
- Forms and Deadlines
If you need a quick refresher before getting into the specific components of matching gift programs, visit this comprehensive guide on matching gifts. Also, stick around to read about how a matching gift database can help donors and nonprofits learn more about specific companies’ match programs.
1. Match Ratio
Companies determine how much to match employee donations based on a preset ratio. Each company carefully crafts its own ratio. However, in most cases, the majority of companies match donations at a dollar-for-dollar rate (i.e. a 1:1 ratio).
When a program offers a 1:1 ratio, an employee will donate to an eligible nonprofit, submit their matching gift request to their employer, and then their company will match that gift. For instance, when an employee donates $100 to a nonprofit that’s eligible for the company’s match program, the employer will donate an additional $100. In other words, the nonprofit receives a $200 donation, which is double the original contribution!
Although you can expect to see a lot of 1:1 ratios, ratios can range from .5:1 all the way up to 4:1. If a donation receives a 4:1 match, that’s 5 times the original amount! Consider these companies for example:
- Puget Sound Energy matches employee donations at a .5:1 rate.
- Apple matches employee donations at a 1:1 rate.
- Coca-Cola matches employee donations at a 2:1 rate.
Ratios are typically standardized across all employee types, but sometimes a company will vary depending on employee position. For example, part-time employees and retirees may have a lower match rate than corporate executives who work for the same company. Take the following companies for example:
- Soros Fund Management matches donations from partners at a 2:1 rate and employees at a 3:1 rate.
- Johnson & Johnson matches donations from current employees at a 2:1 ratio and retirees at a 1:1 ratio.
Takeaway: Matching gift ratios vary from company to company. Also, the ratio may change based on employee position. These stipulations are entirely up to the company, and nonprofits and employees should stay up-to-date on their match opportunities.
2. Maximum Match Amount
To ensure there’s enough in the giving budget for each employee to participate, companies put caps on match amounts. In other words, if an employee donates more than the maximum match amount, the company will not contribute the extra money, only the defined maximum.
While this may sound restrictive, maximum matches have quite the range. Often, you’ll come across upper limits of $1,000 to $15,000 on average, but there are plenty of matches that are way above that scope. For instance, take a look at these companies:
- Avis Budget Group matches donations up to $100 annually per employee.
- General Electric matches donations up to $5,000 annually per employee.
- Merck & Company matches donations up to $30,000 annually per employee.
Occasionally, you may even see maximum match amounts of $100,000 and higher. Regardless, each philanthropic program—no matter how small its maximum match amount is—is generous and has the power to make a major difference in the nonprofit world.
3. Minimum Match Amount
Companies also put restrictions on the minimum donation amount they will match. In other words, if a donor’s contribution falls below that set amount, the company will not match the gift.
This isn’t intended to restrict employees’ philanthropic efforts. Rather, it’s to ensure that employees are requesting matches for causes they truly care about. Plus, for companies with smaller giving budgets, minimum amounts make sure that employees who give multiple small donations don’t take away the chance for larger donations to be matched.
Nonetheless, some companies will match donations that are as little as $1. However, the most common minimum requirement is $25. Minimums often range from $1 to $100, so nonprofits and donors should stay up-to-date on these numbers. Take these companies for instance:
- Harris Corporation matches employee donations as long as they’re greater than $10.
- Home Depot matches donations starting at $25.
- LyondellBasell Industries matches employee donations of $100 or more.
4. Employee Eligibility
More often than not, companies create eligibility requirements for employees. This may be dependent on position or some other factor. These requirements are typically out of employees’ control.
With most programs, retired employees are ineligible to participate. Sometimes, part-time employees are excluded, too. However, many programs do match donations made by any employee, regardless of position or retirement status. To get a real-world idea of this concept, take these companies for example:
- Acuity Brands matches donations from directors and executives only.
- British Petroleum (BP) matches donations made from current employees, but not retirees.
- Sherwin-Williams matches donations made from all current employees and retirees.
As previously mentioned, different positions often mean different match ratio amounts, but unfortunately, it can also mean different match maximums, too. For instance, some companies may allow current employees to donate up to a higher amount than retired employees.
Another common case is programs that offer executive employees higher maximums than other employees. On the other hand, sometimes dependents (such as a spouse or child) of employees can even be eligible.
Also, some companies reward employees who go the extra mile. For example, take a look at these companies:
- American Express offers a 1:1 match ratio for employee donations. However, if the donor serves on a nonprofit board or volunteers more than 50 hours in a year, the first $1,000 of their donations will be matched at a 2:1 ratio.
- RealNetworks offers a standard matching gift program, but if an employee works at the company for 5 years, they receive a $500 grant for a nonprofit of their choosing.
Takeaway: In most cases, there aren’t too many requirements employees have to meet to be eligible for matching gifts. However, sometimes, companies change eligibility status based on employees’ positions.
5. Nonprofit Eligibility
Just like there are standards employees have to meet, there are requirements for nonprofits, too. While companies typically match donations to most 501(c)(3) organizations, other companies place restrictions on the types of organizations that are eligible. In other words, if a company deems a nonprofit ineligible, employee donations made to that organization are not eligible to be matched.
Like all other components of corporate giving programs, the eligibility requirements for nonprofits differ from company-to-company. These restrictions are put in place because companies want to support their views that align with employees’ views.
For instance, churches and other religious organizations are often excluded from match programs. However, there are still several major businesses that will match donations to religious nonprofits.
Schools often fall under the ineligible category, too. However, some companies match donations only to educational institutions, or they offer higher maximums or match ratios just for higher education. Take these companies for example:
- Air Products and Chemicals matches donations made to colleges and universities at a 1:1 ratio up to $5,000, arts and cultural organizations at a 2:1 ratio up to $2,000, and environmental and conservation organizations at a 1:1 ratio up to $1,000.
- ExxonMobil has a maximum match amount of $22,500 for donations made to educational institutions, while it has a maximum match amount of $2,000 for donations made to cultural organizations.
6. Forms and Submission Deadlines
Creating forms and designating deadlines are a significant part of a program’s guidelines. As a quick refresher, here’s how the typical process works:
Once all requirements to receive a matching gift have been met, forms and deadlines come into play. Forms can either be electronic or paper. While companies typically choose one or the other (often e-forms), it’s not uncommon for them to offer both. The point is, there needs to be a way for employees to submit match requests.
Forms include fields about the employee who made the donation and about the nonprofit that received the donation. To learn more and see examples, view this post about all the typical components of forms.
Companies also have to define a specific deadline to submit the match request. For instance, an employee can’t donate to a nonprofit and submit a match request two years later.
In their guidelines, companies might select a specific date, accept requests for a full year after the donation, or specify another time period like 6 months.
For example, here are request deadlines for a few major companies:
- Boeing accepts matching gift requests from employees until January 31 of the following year after the donation.
- Microsoft accepts matching gift requests for donations up to 12 months later.
- CarMax accepts matching gift requests within 180 days from the date of the donation.
Takeaway: Companies must create accessible forms and define deadlines before putting a match program in place. Employees and nonprofits need to be aware of these. Otherwise, they may miss out on matching gifts.
Matching Gift Database: Identifying Companies’ Guidelines
Nonprofits need to stay up-to-date on companies’ guidelines, such as donation maximums, minimums, ratios, eligibility, and so on. Unfortunately, gathering companies’ guidelines can be an arduous process. However, with a matching gift database, the research process is simplified!
A matching gift database (like Double the Donation) ensures that your nonprofit is staying updated on each donor’s matching gift opportunities. Once you embed it across your online fundraising channels (i.e. your website, donation page, etc.), here’s what the tool does:
- Allows donors to search for 20,000+ companies.
- Shows available information (e.g. forms and requirements) on companies’ programs.
- Allows nonprofits and donors to determine match eligibility.
- And more!
With 360MatchPro by Double the Donation, larger nonprofits can automate the entire process. From automatically determining eligibility to emailing those donors to even creating a matching gift plan for your nonprofit, no match opportunities will be overlooked.
Think your nonprofit can benefit from a matching gift database?
Matching gift programs have several guidelines, all defined by the companies that offer them. As you’ve learned, the most common defined elements are match ratio, maximum match, minimum match, employee eligibility, and nonprofit eligibility.
Once these requirements are met, all donors have to do is submit the proper forms by the designated deadlines. Remember, gathering each company’s guidelines is simplified with a matching gift database.
Take all of these factors into account, and you’ll be able to predict what your nonprofit will rake in from those lucrative matching gifts. Now, get out there and boost your matching gift potential!
Interested in learning more about matching gifts? Check out these additional resources for more corporate giving tips and tricks:
- Corporate Matching Gift Programs Questions (And Answers!). Do you have additional questions about matching gifts? This article covers some of the most common queries about matched giving.
- Sample Matching Gift Letter Templates by Fundraising Letters. If you’re thinking about revamping your matching gift outreach strategy, take a look at these effective matching gift letter examples.
- Top Matching Gift Companies. Brush up on the top matching gift companies to see how much your organization could raise.