Does your organization rely on engaging event experiences to connect with donors and collect ample funding for your cause? You might be missing out on a key opportunity that can bring your event-hosting strategy to the next level. And that is matching gifts!

Corporate matching gifts have the potential to amplify the impact of each dollar coming your way, and they can help you reach⁠—and surpass⁠—your event goals more effectively and efficiently than ever before.  

In this guide, we’ll show you how to do so. 

Understanding Matching Gifts

The first step in leveraging matching gifts within an overall fundraising event strategy involves building your knowledge of the programs. After all, the more familiar you and your team are with corporate matching gifts, the better you’ll be able to communicate the opportunity to your donors.

Starting with the basics, matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy in which companies agree to match employee donations to eligible nonprofit causes.

Though it can vary from one business to the next, the process generally works like this:

  1. An individual contributes to a nonprofit organization.
  2. The individual checks if their employer offers a matching gift program.
  3. The individual submits a matching gift request to their employer, typically through an online portal.
  4. The employer verifies the donation and confirms eligibility for the matching gift program.
  5. The employer disburses a matching gift to the nonprofit organization.

In order to best promote matching gifts to your supporters, we also recommend familiarizing yourself with some of the most prominent companies offering matching gifts—such as Disney, Google, Microsoft, General Electric, and many more⁠—as well as common eligibility criteria (minimum and maximum donation amounts, match ratios, submission deadlines, etc.) you can expect to see.

Leveraging Matching Gifts for Event Fundraising

Once you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to see how matching gifts can fit directly into your organization’s fundraiser at every phase throughout the event lifecycle…

During Pre-Event Planning

Matching gifts can play a crucial role in reaching nonprofit event goals even before the event takes place. To make the most of the opportunity, we suggest proactively communicating with event participants, sponsors, and attendees about the availability and impact of matching gifts. For example, consider mentioning matching gifts in your event marketing materials, online registration pages, social media posts, and more leading up to the big day.

By highlighting the value that matching gifts can have on their donations, nonprofits can motivate individuals to contribute and participate in the event in the first place. In fact, studies indicate that 84% of survey participants say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered, while 1 in 3 would give a larger gift if matching is applied.

Thus, increasing awareness of matching gifts beforehand can help generate excitement and encourage potential donors to maximize their giving, knowing that their contributions will be amplified by their employers.

Throughout the Event

Matching gifts can also be instrumental in driving fundraising success directly within the event itself. To do so, remind attendees about matching gift opportunities and encourage supporters to submit matching gift requests for their donations made during the event. 

For example, you might decide to set up dedicated stations or provide instructions on how to initiate the matching gift process on-site. Consider making a verbal announcement during the program and even offering scannable QR codes nearby that drive attendees to your matching gift web page to learn more.

By creating a seamless experience and offering support through the process, nonprofits can increase donor participation in matching gift programs⁠—or even incentivize additional giving within the context of the event.

Within Post-Event Follow-Up

Just like your fundraising and engagement efforts don’t end at the conclusion of the event, neither do your opportunities to promote matching gifts. In fact, nonprofits can leverage the post-event momentum to follow up with donors and reiterate the value of matching gifts previously mentioned.

By incorporating matching gift information in personalized thank-you notes, nonprofit teams like yours can remind supporters about the potential to double their impact on their cause. This ongoing engagement can help maximize post-event fundraising outcomes, reinforce the donor’s connection to the mission, and retain the organization at the forefront of the supporter’s mind.

All in all, post-event matching gift communications can continue to support and deepen long-term supporter relationships that go far beyond any single event or transaction.

Debunking Common Matching Gift Myths for Fundraising Events

There are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding corporate matching gifts, and falling prey to these falsehoods ultimately causes many organizations to fall short of their matching gift potential.

If you’re looking to incorporate matching gifts in your next fundraising event, don’t let these five myths hold you back.

Myth #1: Matching gifts are only available for individual donations, not event contributions.

Truth: Although the exact specifications can vary from company to company, many do, in fact, extend eligibility for their matching gift programs to include event contributions as well. Thus, organizations aiming to increase matching gifts should make an effort to proactively communicate the availability of matching gifts for events.

However, it is helpful to note that if only a portion of an event contribution is tax-deductible (e.g., a gala ticket purchase that excludes the cost of a meal from the non-taxed portion), a company may only match the tax-deductible total. In a similar vein, payments made for auction items are often not match-eligible, while separate event donations typically are.

The bottom line is that when in doubt, encourage the donor to reach out to their company to find out more. It’s never a bad idea to check⁠—and you certainly don’t want to discount all event contributions as ineligible for matching.

Myth #2: Few donors are actually eligible to participate in corporate matching gift programs.

Truth: Contrary to this myth, a significant number of donors are eligible for corporate matching gift programs⁠—to the tune of over 26 million qualifying employees worldwide. In fact, many companies have generous matching gift programs that cover a wide range of employee donations, including individual and event contributions. So if you think it’s not worth establishing a strategy for driving matching gifts for your fundraising event due to a lack of availability, you might want to think again.

Myth #3: Qualifying donors know to (and will) take steps to submit matches on their own.

Truth: Although there are tons of match-eligible donors, and many likely within your donor network, you shouldn’t assume that these individuals are aware of the opportunity to begin with. In fact, 360MatchPro research indicates that an estimated 78% of qualifying individuals have no idea that their company matches gifts. And unfortunately, these match-eligible donors are probably not going to submit a match request on their own.

Thus, it’s crucial for nonprofits to educate their donors about matching gift opportunities and provide clear instructions on how individuals can check their eligibility and submit subsequent requests.

Myth #4: Only large corporations offer matching gift programs, so smaller businesses do not participate.

Truth: Matching gift programs are increasingly being offered by small and mid-sized businesses, in addition to the large and enterprise-level programs that have long led the way. Now, tens of thousands of companies participate in philanthropy by matching employee donations⁠—from Fortune 500 businesses to the local pizza shop down the road.

Myth #5: Matching gifts are complicated, making them not worth the effort for event donations.

Truth: Many matching gift requests can be completed in just a few minutes⁠—once the donor has navigated to the correct forms and submission portals. Oftentimes, the most difficult part of the process is locating the information they need to make their requests. Luckily, this component is easy for an organization to automate with matching gift technology.

And when donors are provided with direct links to their employers’ request forms, they typically find that it’s worth the effort to amplify any type or size of donation. In other words, the potential impact far outweighs any perceived complexities, thus making matching gifts a valuable avenue for maximizing event fundraising results.

Myth #6: Peer-to-peer event donations do not qualify for matching gifts.

Truth: On the contrary, many companies offer specific programs designed to inspire team member participation in peer-to-peer fundraising events. Coined “fundraising match” initiatives, these types of matching gifts can double not only an employee’s own charitable donations but also those fundraised on behalf of a nonprofit event.

Thus, if you’re planning an upcoming peer-to-peer-based event, it’s a good idea to look into which of your volunteer fundraisers work for such companies!

. . . . .

Whether you’re organizing an upcoming run, walk, or bike-a-thon, hosting a hybrid auction experience, or planning a golf tournament to support your nonprofit cause, matching gifts can and should be involved in your strategy. Otherwise, you’re simply leaving available funds on the table⁠—and you certainly don’t want to do that.

Instead, by integrating matching gifts in your next nonprofit event, you allow your organization, your donors, and your overall community to reap the benefits of corporate philanthropy. Talk about a win-win-win!



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