Matching Gifts 101: A Basic Guide for Raising More

Nov 9, 2022
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Adam Weinger

Corporate matching gifts enable organizations to raise more for their missions when qualifying donors request donation matches from their employers.

Thousands of businesses large and small offer to match employee gifts, yet this continues to be a severely underutilized source of revenue for nonprofits. More than likely, your own organization has been eligible to receive many corporate matches that slipped through the cracks, largely due to a lack of awareness of these programs.

For nonprofits aiming to make the most of their fundraising efforts, promoting matching gift opportunities to donors is essential.

1. What Are Matching Gifts?

Corporate matching gifts are one of the most popular forms of workplace giving initiative. These generous programs are offered by tons of companies that employ millions of match-eligible employees, making gift-matching an extremely valuable source of fundraising revenue for nonprofits of all kinds.

When one of these employees makes a donation to a nonprofit organization, they then have the opportunity to request a matching donation from the company they work for. Most companies match gifts at a dollar-for-dollar ratio, while other businesses may match at 2:1 or even 3:1 for every employee dollar contributed.

Businesses benefit from matching gift programs through improved brand images, unique marketing opportunities, tax benefits, employee engagement, and more. At the same time, donors are able to make twice the impact on a cause they care about, while nonprofit organizations can stretch their dollars further to better pursue their missions.

2. Identifying Match-Eligible Donations

Each company that develops a matching gift program sets its own unique set of donation guidelines to identify match-eligible donations by employees. These eligibility criteria are typically set in terms of the following categories:

  • Minimum and maximum match amounts (gifts must fall within a specified range to request a company match)
  • Qualifying employees (such as full-time employees, part-time employees, retired workers, and sometimes even employees’ spouses)
  • Eligible nonprofit recipients (typically based on mission, often by choosing certain eligible categories or restricted cause types)
  • Submission deadlines (may align with the calendar or fiscal year in which the donation was made or allow a certain number of months following the gift being contributed)

For nonprofits looking to increase their matching gift revenue, personally following up on match-eligible gifts is an effective practice. In order to locate donations that may be matchable, take a look at the matching gift programs of companies your donors work for. Then, compare against the donations made by those individuals (and determine whether they meet the companies’ provided thresholds) to uncover your matchable gifts.

3. Religious Organizations + Matching Gifts

When a company develops a matching gift program, it is able to set guidelines surrounding the types of donations they’ll match. This is most often done in terms of donation amounts, qualifying types of employees, and eligible nonprofit recipients, as described above.

Unfortunately, one of the most common stipulations for eligible organizations concerns houses of worship and other religious organizations. But not all hope should be lost. Many companies will match to religious-based nonprofits, though there may be additional restrictions put in place.

These are a few examples of typical wording included in companies’ matching criteria surrounding religious organizations:

  • Company will match donations to a religiously-affiliated organization that is open to all individuals in the community regardless of religious belief.
  • Company will match donations to a religiously-affiliated organization that serves a secular purpose⁠—such as a food pantry, homeless shelter, or educational institution.
  • Company will match donations to a religiously-affiliated organization that does not require participation in prayer, worship, or other religious activities as a condition of receiving service(s) offered.
  • Company will match donations to a religiously-affiliated organization that does not use the individual donation or resulting match for religious purposes.

On the other hand, some employers (such as The Pew Charitable Trusts) have more open policies regarding religion-based matching gifts.

Here’s what this company has to say: “Yes, Pew will match contributions made to religious organizations, such as houses of worship, schools, hospitals, shelters, etc., just as it would to any other qualifying organization.”

Though it can sometimes be frustrating not to have a clear-cut answer, any organization’s matching gift eligibility depends on the company providing the potential match. Luckily, there are several things your team can do to simplify the matching gift identification and submission processes.

4. Tips for Impactful Matching Gift Practices

The vast majority of match-eligible donations are never followed up on in order to secure that additional funding. As a result, between $4 and $7 billion in matching gift revenue is left on the table each year (according to research by matching gift experts at Double the Donation).

These tried-and-true tips will provide valuable insights into how you can begin securing those unclaimed corporate dollars for your own mission:

Promote matching gift opportunities to donors.

Taking a proactive approach to marketing matching gifts to donors is one of the most impactful things a fundraising organization can do. The more individuals are familiar with matching gifts, the more likely they will secure donation matches for their favorite causes (like yours).

Here are a few essential ways to get the word out about these invaluable opportunities:

  • Social media
  • Email blasts
  • Fundraising appeals
  • Nonprofit newsletters
  • Website

So many people are eligible for matching gifts, but so many are completely uninformed about these programs. As a result, it helps to take a mass marketing approach to get the word out about powerful gift-matching initiatives before it’s time to follow up on particular donations.

Share company-specific matching gift guidelines post-donation.

When you know where your employees work, one of the most impactful steps you can take to increase matching gift submission is sharing company-specific matching program criteria.

If you know that Donor A works for Company B, for example, it’s a great practice to follow up with that individual after they submit their initial donation. An online search of a company’s matching gift program guidelines for well-known businesses should typically provide your team with valuable program information.

Then, relay that information back to Donor A, letting them know that their donation of $100 to your nonprofit falls within their employer’s matching threshold, and even providing access to online submission forms, when accessible.

Keep in mind that the less effort (and independent research) required of your match-eligible donor, the more likely they are to complete the matching gift process.

Integrate matching gift software into your fundraising platform.

Matching gifts offer nonprofits a substantial source of untapped fundraising revenue. But what if your team lacks the time or resources to devote to manual promotion and outreach strategies? That’s where your matching gift software comes in⁠—and seamless integrations with your existing technology make this process as simple as possible.

For example, the Double the Donation and Feeling Blessed integration offers users the following key features:

  • Donation form search widget that enables donors to quickly and easily enter their employer’s name directly within the giving experience
  • Comprehensive matching gift database with access to more than 24,000 companies (and their program guidelines and submission forms) that employ nearly 26 million individuals⁠—or 99.7% of all match-eligible donors
  • Automated follow-up emails that provide donors with personalized, company-specific information about their donation’s match eligibility and next steps

With the right tools, increasing matching gifts is one of the simplest yet most impactful fundraising strategies to employ. Once set up, all you have to do is sit back and watch those match dollars rolling in!

The more you know about matching gifts⁠—and the corporate matching gift programs that supply them⁠—the better equipped your team will be to optimize your efforts for this funding source. 

When you do so, you’ll be able to drive your mission forward with additional individual and corporate funding. Not to mention, you can increase engagement with your existing donors and even attract new supporters to your cause. Good luck!


Adam Weinger

President at Double the Donation

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