Matching Gifts: The Basics (Plus Top Marketing Tips!)

Guest blog By Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation

Many nonprofits are looking for extra funding wherever they can. While most charitable giving is made by individuals through donations and bequests, companies are a viable source of funds for many organizations.

Through corporate giving programs, companies demonstrate their philanthropy and reward employees who donate their time and money to charitable organizations.

While there are many different types of corporate giving programs out there, we’re only going to be covering one of the most popular: matching gift programs.

Here’s what we’ll be going over:

  1. The Basics of Matching Gifts
  2. How to Promote Matching Gifts
  3. The Top Matching Gift Companies

Let’s get started!

What are Matching Gifts, Anyway?

Glad you asked! Matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program that rewards employees who donate to nonprofit organizations.

In a general sense, matching gifts can be seen as bonus funding. Matching gift programs are part of corporate giving, and a wide range of companies offer these programs. If a nonprofit donor works for a company that matches gifts, that donor can submit a request to his or her employer. The employer will in turn match that donation to the nonprofit.

The matching gift process goes a little something like this:

  1. An employee makes a donation to a nonprofit.
  2. The employee/donor submits a matching gift request to their employer’s HR department.
  3. The company reviews the donation.
  4. If the nonprofit and the donation are eligible, the company will cut a check to the organization.

For example, say your donor Lucy works at Company Corporation Inc. and that Company Corporation Inc. matches at a 1:1, or exact match, ratio. Lucy gives your organization $500, submits her paperwork, and then Company Corporation Inc. also contributes $500. Lucy’s donation has doubled with very little additional work.

Nonprofits and educational institutions of all shapes and sizes can stand to benefit from the generosity of companies with matching gift programs.

Matching gift programs are as lucrative as they sound. That’s why your organization should take the time to properly plan for matching gifts and manage their acquisition.

Granted, every company has different guidelines (we’ll go over some of the most common ones later), but as long as the nonprofit falls within the criteria, they can receive another donation without ever asking the donor for a second contribution.

While a nonprofit doesn’t have to ask for another donation directly from the supporter, they do have to promote matching gift programs to them!

One of the main reasons that donors don’t submit matching gift requests is because they simply don’t know that their employer offers such a program.

Luckily, we have the marketing tools for promoting matching gifts to supporters!

How Can I Promote Matching Gifts?

1. On Your Nonprofit’s Website

Your nonprofit’s website is crucial to your fundraising efforts across the board. Whether you run a blog to educate supporters and keep them updated or you make use of an online donation page, your nonprofit’s website is a fundraising hub.

What better place to promote matching gifts?

Let’s look at three nonprofits who do a great job of promoting matching gifts on their websites.

ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

ASPCA Ways to Give Page demonstrates how to promote matching gifts

The ASPCA knows that donors are going to look for other ways to give to their organization. While some people might want to become a monthly member or fundraise with Team ASPCA (denoted in the bottom right corner), this dedicated matching gifts page tells donors all they need to know about potentially doubling their donations.

The ASPCA also included Double the Donation’s tool that gives supporters an easy way to look up their company’s matching gift program.

See the ASPCA’s matching gift page for yourself!

March of Dimes

March of Dimes Ways to Give Page demonstrates how a nonprofit can promote matching gifts

March of Dimes also gives donors more information about matching gifts. They even include all of the necessary information (address, tax ID number, etc.) that donors will need when submitting a matching gift request.

Donors with questions can email or simply use the matching gift tool at the bottom of the page.

Check out the March of Dimes matching gift page.

The National Kidney Foundation

The National Kidney Foundation Ways to Give Page demonstrates how nonprofits can promote matching gifts

The National Kidney Foundation’s matching gift page goes one step further and include a Frequently Asked Questions section for supporters to look through.

The helpful box listing out contact information and the organization’s tax ID number can help donor who need to submit a matching gift request. For those who aren’t sure if their company will match their donation, the National Kidney Foundation uses a matching gift search tool.

Check out the National Kidney Foundation’s matching gift page.

2. Social Media

Getting social influencers to back what you’re promoting, be it a line of skincare cosmetics or gourmet popcorn, is like going from whispering to a tepid crowd to using a microphone to speak to an audience full of supporters.

Involving social influencers in your promotional efforts should always be recommended. The question, or sometimes challenge, then becomes how you are going to get them on board. Social influencers, though occasionally paid, are at peak effectiveness when they’re marketing your product because they genuinely want to be doing so.

Luckily for nonprofits, getting social influencers involved is considerably easier on a moral level than if you were advertising a certain type of product.

Ask a group of people who you barely know to talk about your business venture and you’re going to get a lukewarm response. Ask a group of people who you barely know to talk about your philanthropic endeavors that are helping the community in x, y, and z ways, and you’re more likely to pique interest.

matching giftsThis is all to say that with the right tools and techniques, you’ll be able to market matching gifts to valuable social influencers and see the results of their promotional efforts in no time.

The biggest challenge that nonprofits face when seeking matching gifts is the relatively minimal awareness of them, which is where promoting to social influencers comes in.

In order to effectively market matching gifts to social influencers, a nonprofit needs to employ targeted and appropriate promotion on social media and take the added time to reach out to specific influencers in the sector.

Influencers wield most of their power on Facebook and Twitter, so your nonprofit needs to ensure that it is actively promoting matching gifts on those two sites.

Promoting Matching Gifts on Facebook

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 2.04.32 PMWith Facebook, you have tons of promotional potential if your posts are handled properly. Posts promoting matching gifts should have:

  • A brief description,
  • Links out,
  • A call-to-action,
  • And compelling graphics.

For instance, here is a great promotional post by the National Kidney Foundation that will both grab the casual Facebook scanner’s attention and then actually provide that person with relevant information.

Additionally you’ll want to keep up a consistent pace with your posts in order to cast a wide net. Make sure you’re catching as many people as possible to prevent your announcements from becoming blips on your supporters’ radars.

The National Kidney Foundation’s post received wide coverage with 465 likes eight comments, and 181 shares.

Promoting Matching Gifts on Twitter

Twitter, though seemingly limiting with its 140 characters, is actually quite a valuable tool when it comes to promoting matching gifts.

First, consider the Twittersphere’s ability to quickly share ideas and information. Hashtags give nonprofits glimpses of what supporters are most interested in on any given week, day, or even hour. That knowledge is indispensable in timing your various calls-to-action and asks.

Use what information you can deduce from your supporters’ Twitter activities and events on Twitter in general, to formulate the best time to promote matching gifts.

When tweeting about matching gifts, you need to make sure that you are varying your content.

Yes, you need to be direct and to the point when you do market matching gifts, treating the tweet like the call-to-action that it is. But not all your tweets need to be or should be calls-to-action. Provide:

  • Updates,
  • Links out to pertinent articles,
  • Messages of thanks,
  • And other diverse topics to keep followers invested.

Once you’ve reached their social media accounts through your own online promotion, it is time to step up and start specifically promoting matching gifts to key influencers who you know will make a difference with your community of prospects and donors.

In the nonprofit world, the social influencers who will be most valuable to your nonprofit’s matching gift promotional efforts are the thought leaders in the community. In order to appeal to them you can:

  1. Preemptively promote your matching gift efforts to significant social influencers via email.
  2.  And establish reciprocal relationships with those social influencers.

Let’s address those suggestions one at a time.

Suggestion 1: Nonprofits should preemptively promote your matching gift efforts to significant social influencers via email.

Promoting via email is really its own sub-genre of marketing matching gifts, and it is a great platform for getting the word out quickly to all relevant prospects and donors.

Here’s a sample email:

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 2.03.57 PM

Add a twist to your traditional email marketing and appeal to your organization’s social influencers.

If you want to get social influencers on board to help you in your matching gifts promotions, you need to reach out to them. In this case, sooner is certainly better than later. Send out an email three weeks or so before you’d actually need their help promoting.

Use the email to explain your situation and why you would appreciate any marketing help they could give you. Make sure you emphasize what is truly at stake — serving your nonprofit’s mission.

Suggestion 2: Nonprofits can establish reciprocal relationships with those social influencers.

A great (and cost-effective!) way to garner support from social influencers without having to pay them is to establish a reciprocal relationship. Your nonprofit probably doesn’t have the social media cache of these people (that is why you’re seeking them after all), but it probably does have something to offer interested parties.

Offer your organization as an additional promotional outlet for them, so they feel like they’re getting something in return for their efforts.

You could retweet them, repost their blogs, quote them, whatever you see fit. Just build your relationship on a two-way street.

When looking to market matching gifts to your social influencers, you’ll have two parts of the journey.

Part one involves just plain promotion across the board.

Part two is made up of the methods to get those big deal influencers on board with your matching gifts efforts and ready to promote.

Both parts are important, and both will work together to bring your organization to its matching gift goal.

Social media gives nonprofits amazing tools to expand their scope of supporters. Think about how much something like crowdfunding benefits from social media promotion. There’s no reason why matching gifts can’t receive some of the same positive outcomes.

And with the promotional help of social influencers, getting donors to submit matching gifts will be easier than ever.

What are the Top Matching Gift Companies?

You might be wondering how you can get started with matching gifts. Well, if you have employer information about your donors, then you can start right here!

Check out the following companies that offer the best matching gift programs in the U.S.

1. General Electric

General Electric (GE) was the original matching gift company. They started their Corporate Alumni Program (as it used to be called) in 1954, and have donated over $35 million each year to educational institutions.

GE set the standard for matching gift programs. They currently match full-time, part-time, and retired employees’ donations to a wide range of nonprofits. They will double any donation ranging from $25 to $25,000!

Learn more about GE’s matching gift program.

2. Soros Fund Management

Full-time employees of Soros Fund Management can have donations ranging from $25 to $100,000 matched at a 3:1 ratio.

Soros Fund Management has one of the most generous matching gift programs. If your nonprofit has donors that work there, you stand to quadruple their donations!

Learn more about Soros Fund Management’s matching gift program.

3. CarMax

CarMax has a unique matching gift program. Not only do they match full-time, part-time, and retired employees’ donations at a 1:1 ratio (up to $10,000), they also match any donations made by dependents of employees (until those dependents are 26).

It’s not a common matching gift policy to have, but it works for CarMax employees!

Learn more about CarMax’s matching gift program.

4. Microsoft

While many companies have a minimum match amount in the $25 to $50 range, Microsoft will match full-time and part-time employees’ donations from $1 to $15,000!

Microsoft matches donations at a 1:1 ratio to most eligible nonprofits.

Learn more about Microsoft’s matching gift program.

5. ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil will match donations at a 3:1 ratio. Full-time, part-time, and retired employees are all eligible for the matching gift program. The program is also open to spouses and surviving spouses.

Additionally, ExxonMobil caps donations to educational institutions at $22,500 and contributions to cultural organizations at $2,000.

Learn more about ExxonMobil’s matching gift program.

Matching gift programs are an easy source of nonprofit fundraising. They’re often overlooked, but that’s only because many supporters don’t even know that they exist!

By promoting matching gifts to your donors and social influencers (and knowing as much as you can about them yourself!), you’ll set your nonprofit on the road to matching gift success.

Guest blog by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation

Jeanette Russell
About Jeanette Russell

Passionate to engage stakeholders to solve technical and political issues through transformational initiatives. My deep understanding of technology, partnerships, marketing, advocacy, fundraising, nonprofits, startups and self-directed nature is my brand. I’ve created extensive partner networks, coalitions, spearheaded innovative campaigns and significantly increased revenue/funding for purpose driven ventures.

Posted in Fundraising, Nonprofit

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