President, Double the Donation
It’s the season of love and giving, which means it’s the perfect time to explore new and powerful ways to engage with donors—specifically through matching gifts.
When you follow these five steps, you’ll see significant increases in matching gift participation along with supporter engagement and nonprofit funding. In this guide, we’ll explore the importance of:
- Informing donors of matching gift opportunities.
- Minimizing the effort required for a match.
- Following up after donations.
- Requesting updates throughout the process.
- Thanking donors for the added effort.
Matching gifts have the potential to elevate any organization’s fundraising efforts. To utilize these programs effectively, however, your team must be willing to support and engage with your donors from start to finish.
Ready to find out how? Let’s jump in with our first key tip.
1. Inform donors of matching gift opportunities.
The #1 way to grow any matching gift fundraising program is by making donors aware of these giving opportunities in the first place.
Studies on effective matching gift strategies report that, despite more than 26 million individuals working for companies that match employee donations, 78% of this group have no idea their employers do so. As a result, nonprofits are learning to take a proactive approach to promote matching gift initiatives by taking marketing efforts upon themselves.
Here are three of the most common channels with which organizations share matching gift information:
- Social media: Social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more provide a great place to begin sharing broad information about matching gifts. You can define these programs, encourage followers to look into their own eligibility, and link to additional resources to learn more.
- Email blasts: More than likely, you have an existing email list of individuals who have shown interest in your organization—whether by making a donation, subscribing to a newsletter, etc. Use that to your advantage by promoting matching gifts within your upcoming mass emails.
- Nonprofit website: Your nonprofit’s website is one of your most valuable marketing assets, so using it to promote matching gifts is essential. We recommend incorporating company gift matching within your online donation page, “ways to give” page, and website navigation, along with creating a dedicated matching gift fundraising page that shares more detailed information.
Donors love participating in corporate matching gifts—many simply lack the knowledge to get involved. The more familiar your supporters are with the types of programs, the more likely they will get involved when given the opportunity.
As a bonus, matching gift research also shows that individuals tend to give in larger quantities if they know a match is being applied!
2. Minimize the effort required for a match.
Since matching gifts are a new and unique concept for many nonprofit supporters, your organization must aim to streamline and simplify the process as much as possible. This tends to mean ensuring donors can locate their employers’ giving program guidelines without a ton of effort and research required on their part.
For instance, be sure to provide each individual with their employer’s:
- Donation minimums and maximums
- Submission deadlines
- Types of qualifying employees
- Types of qualifying nonprofits
- Links to match request forms
The donation eligibility criteria enable donors to quickly determine whether their gift can be matched. Then, providing links to matching gift request forms from a wide range of participating companies is what really provides individuals with a smooth, seamless matching gift experience.
The more effort (and research) required of each donor to request a matching gift on your behalf, the more likely they are to drop off at any point in the process. But you don’t have to task your fundraising team with conducting a ton of manual research, either.
That’s why we recommend equipping donors with quick access to an intuitive company search tool that pulls from a comprehensive database of matching gift program information.
3. Follow up after donations.
Even after a donor navigates away from your nonprofit’s donation page and website, you still have more opportunities to highlight matching gifts. One of the most effective ways to do so is by leveraging personalized email follow-ups.
You’ll want to get your post-transaction follow-up communications sent soon after each individual makes their gift (while your mission is still on their mind), but not too soon that your matching gift email is discarded as a part of an automated donation receipt. The sweet spot tends to be within the first 24 to 48 hours after receiving a donation.
In fact, the same research cited above also states that organizations sending matching gift emails within the first 24 hours after a donation see a 53% open rate on those communications. That’s 2-3 times higher than the average nonprofit email open rate! Not to mention, additional matching gift follow-ups increase the number of matches identified and submitted by 48%.
Here are a few examples of our favorite calls to action used to encourage donors to get their gifts matched:
- For a donor with a known employer that matches gifts: “Did you know that your employer, the Home Depot, matches employee gifts? Find out how to request a match here.”
- For a donor with an unknown employer: “Does your employer match gifts? Click here to see whether your donation is eligible for a corporate match!”
These matching gift encouragements work best when paired with access to a matching gift database. When donors navigate to the page linked within your communications, they can simply conduct a quick search to uncover their eligibility through their employer. Plus, your matching gift database software (such as Double the Donation) can even help automate your follow-up communications.
If you don’t have access to a company database, you’ll need to provide supporters with additional instructions for finding their employer’s giving guidelines. This might include checking the business’ website, contacting an HR representative, or scouring onboarding materials.
4. Request updates throughout the process.
Collecting matching gifts relies a lot on waiting—waiting for donors to make their match requests, waiting for companies to review and approve the match, waiting for the matching donation to come through.
Staying knowledgeable about where each donor falls in the process is one of the best ways to maintain an effective plan and adjust your strategies throughout the matching gift experience. That’s why it’s important that you stay in touch with your donors—and the easiest way to do so is to be in ongoing communication with them.
To help keep tabs on your matching gift donors, consider asking them to provide updates at regular intervals. For instance, you might include email buttons asking donors to indicate when they initially request a matching donation from their employer, when their request has been approved, and even if they determine that their gift is not eligible for a match.
5. Thank donors for the added effort.
Showing gratitude for matching gift donors should go beyond your typical donation thank-you communications—whether those are emails, letters, phone calls, or something else entirely. This is especially true around fun holidays like Valentine’s Day!
At any point in the year, however, we recommend sending matching gift acknowledgment messages at a few points throughout the matching gift experience. These include:
- Immediately after a donation is made (promoting matching gift opportunities and encouraging donors to partake)
- Once a donor indicates they’ve requested a match from their employer (thanking them for taking the next step and communicating the importance of their gift match)
- After your organization receives the matching donation (once again, thanking them for their participation and reiterating that the bonus gift wouldn’t have been possible without them)
Too many donors submit matching gift requests to their employers, only never to hear about it again. Even if the company makes the match and the organization receives it, the donor might assume the opposite if they never hear anything more. If that happens, they’re not likely to complete the match process the next time they give, even if they remain eligible.
Donors who feel appreciated for the extra steps they took for your organization, on the other hand, are likely to feel more engaged with your cause and participate in matching gifts every time they give.
Remember, supporter engagement is vital for building, strengthening, and maintaining significant supporter relationships. The worst thing you can do is treat your donors in a transactional manner as if they’re nothing more than an ATM.
Encouraging matching gifts enables organizations to provide additional touchpoints and strategic communications (while receiving additional donations!). At the same time, program participation allows donors to stretch their gifts even farther for the missions they care about.