How to create a Matching Gifts Program

As the new year begins, most non-profit organizations will be looking to add to their revenue sources for the year. One source to consider is matching gifts. For those of you who are brand new to this concept, a matching gift program allows eligible donors to make a nonprofit donation and have their place of work double or even triple their gifts. While nonprofits receive generous funds, participating employers also benefit by enhancing their reputation with corporate philanthropy.

Corporate philanthropy and matching gifts are valuable because they are free money for your nonprofit. It gives you more bang for your fundraising buck, so to speak. Your organization will receive two donations for the work of soliciting one, and donors love knowing their gifts went twice as far. Corporate philanthropy programs allow your donors to maximize the impact of their donation, but without having to reach back into their wallets to do so. Collectively, a corporate matching gift program can have a life-changing impact for a nonprofit. 

Starting a matching gifts program (or ramping up the one you have) isn’t rocket science. Consider these points and best practices:

  • Educate everyone within your organization: Your donors, your boards, your volunteers, and your staff. Make sure everyone has a baseline knowledge of matching gifts and how they can maximize contributions to your organization. 
  • Promote and incorporate your matching gift program into your fundraising plans. Mention matching gifts wherever you can! 
    • Encourage matching gifts as donors are making initial contributions.
    • Ask your donors to check with their companies HR offices to see if their company participates in a matching gift program.
    • Create dedicated matching gift pages on your website.
    • Include matching gift information in all of your acknowledgements.
    • Promote matching gifts on social media.
    • Include matching gift information on all of your publications, direct mail pieces, email blasts, etc. – inform your donors of this opportunity! 
    • In some of your publications, spotlight a donor or two who have their gifts matched! 
  • Keep a record of donors who have made matching gift requests. Track this progress, and be sure to let the donors know when you receive their matching gifts! This gives you another reason to reach out to your donor! 

Though each company’s matching gift program is unique, the steps for collecting matching gifts are actually quite uniform throughout, and can be accomplished in five simple steps:

  1. The donor checks to see if their company matches employee contributions, and if so, what the criteria and limitations are. The donor needs to make sure their gift is match-eligible. The donor must take a few minutes to request the matching gift form from their employer. Your organization cannot make that request, even if you know the donor is eligible.
  2. A donor donates to your organization. The first step is always the initial donation; without this, there can be no matching gift to match.
  3. The donor submits the matching gift request, usually along with their gift, to your organization. You complete the information requested, verifying the donor’s gift. In some cases, the donor completes this information with the company, who then will verify the gift with you. 
  4. Send the completed information to the donor’s employer. 
  5. Your organization receives the matching gift from the donor’s company. 

As you jump into (or re-emphasize) the world of matching gifts, here are some notable matching gift companies to keep an eye out for:

  • General Electric: GE Foundation created the concept of corporate matching gift programs in 1954. They offer matching gifts to current employees of all levels as well as retirees. Participants are eligible to match up to $5,000 (maximum) each year.
  • BP: BP is unique in that it will match, in addition to personal donations, all money raised by an employee. So if a BP employee raises $5,000 in a peer-to-peer fundraiser, they can have that entire $5,000 matched.
  • Microsoft: What’s nice about Microsoft is that their minimum is $1 and their maximum is $15,000! They also offer $25/hour in volunteer grants, so time spent volunteering is eligible to be matched monetarily.
  • Apple: Apple Inc. has a match ratio of 2:1 for all employees! Plus, they offer volunteer grants of $50/hour, which is much higher than usual.

These are just a few of the exceptional matching gift programs out there. Make sure to follow-up with those employees. There is $4-7 billion in matching gift revenue left on the table each year, and all you have to do is ask for it.

Matching gifts motivate giving. It has been statistically proven that matching gifts not only increases the size of the gift, but also the rate at which people donate. By matching funds, every dollar that is contributed will have 2x, 3x, or 4x the impact. This empowers the donor and removes the psychological barrier that they may have about the limited size of their giving and its impact. These are opportunities too great to ignore, and I encourage you to look at or reevaluate your matching gift program and see if it can be an increased source of revenue for your organization this year! 

If BrightDot can assist you in developing a matching gifts program, or if we can answer questions you have please email us at [email protected].

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