Your nonprofit wants to raise more money, but you don’t have a whole lot of time or resources to spend to get the ball rolling. You’ve heard about matching gifts, and you know that your nonprofit doesn’t claim as much of this free money as it could. Is the simple solution to pursue more dollars from corporate giving programs?
Yes, and it’s easier to accomplish than you might think. Matching gifts allow your supporters to get their donations to your organization “matched” by their employer if they have a matching gifts program. By helping your supporters become aware of the potential for matching gifts, you can greatly increase your fund generation without the expensive and lengthy process of acquiring new donors.
It’s crucial that you make an effort to continually remind your donors both of the existence of matching gifts and to complete their matching gift forms so that you can receive funding. To continue informing them of these opportunities, you’ll need to build out an impactful marketing strategy. There are a host of ways to market matching gifts:
- Automated Emails and Signatures
- Your Website
- ‘Ways to Give’ Page
- Year-End Reminders
- Acknowledgment and Recognition Letters
A few of these are especially simple to set up and entail little to no cost to your nonprofit. We’ll discuss matching gift best practices and how you can make the most out of all of these methods to immediately start increasing your funding through matching gifts.
Automated Emails and Signatures
Whenever you can use software to automate a process that will help you bring in more revenue, it’s always to your advantage. Automating email blasts to supporters who may be eligible for matching gifts but have not submitted a form yet is an incredibly effective way to secure more donations for your organization through matching gifts. With matching gift software, you’ll have accurate information about how far each of your donors has gotten in the matching gift process and what kind of prompt they need—whether it’s to check if their company offers matching gifts at all or to submit their completed form.
While you want to be nudging donors along the path to securing matching gifts, it’s also a good idea to ensure that you’re getting information about matching gifts to all of your supporters. Including matching gift information in your email signature is an easy way to be sharing that information in a gentle way to donors and supporters who may not have donated yet.
Including matching gift information in an email signature is easily accessible for anyone who works at your organization. You likely have an email signature that shares your name, job title, and basic contact information. Adding a line at the bottom of your email signature that promotes matching gifts can help spread awareness to every donor you reach out to. This is a great practice to ask everyone on your team to do. That way, you’re reaching more supporters at once, rather than relying on just one person to get the message out there.
Here are a few ideas for potential matching gift lines that you can add to your email signature right now:
- Does your employer offer matching gifts? Find out now to double your donation: [link to your dedicated matching gift page].
- Want to double your donation? See if your employer offers a matching gift program: [link to your dedicated matching gift page].
- Double your donation today! Matching gifts allow [insert name of your organization] to do twice as much good. Find out if your employer offers matching gifts today: [link to your dedicated matching gift page].
If text doesn’t excite you, then consider using an eye-catching graphic to entice donors to seek matching gifts. You want to raise awareness, but you also need to get people excited to click so they take the time to double their donations. Make sure to use easy-to-read text and compatible colors that reflect your brand in any graphics you include.
A nonprofit’s website is one of their best resources to explain how matching gifts work to supporters. Because the people visiting your site are already likely considering making a donation, it’s crucial to encourage them to get their donation matched. Here are a few places that you can optimize to help nudge your donors towards matching gifts:
- Navigation bar. Make it easy for visitors to your website to click straight to your matching gift page from your navigation bar.
- Donation page. Incorporate matching gifts directly into the donation page with an easy-to-use search tool to make the matching gift process easier.
- Donation confirmation screen. Provide information about matching gifts and prompt donors to check their eligibility for a matching gift after making a donation on the confirmation page.
It’s most important to ensure that your website is easy for users to navigate so that they can easily find the information they deem most important. One easy way to do this is with a “Ways to Give” page as part of your main navigation. This page can have a section explaining what matched donations are and provide a database tool so supporters can look to see if their employer has a program.
‘Ways to Give’ Page
Every nonprofit trying to increase online fundraising needs a ‘ways to give’ page. This is where you list all the possible ways that people can give back to your nonprofit. Matching gifts should be listed on this page. All you need to do is add a link to your dedicated matching gift page. Whether you use a graphic or text link, it can take as little as five minutes to make the possibility of matching gifts more available to donors. You can also advertise matching gifts alongside other programs like dollars for doers, to encourage your volunteers to submit a request for a volunteer grant from their employers.
Your dedicated matching gift page is where donors learn how easy it is to submit matching gift requests, and getting donors to this page is the real first step in landing more doubled donations. Using a dedicated matching gift database will help your supporters more easily find the information they need. This page should be easy to find on your website and should focus on encouraging donors to submit their matching gift requests. You should make sure to include:
- A short overview of matching gifts for donors who aren’t familiar with them.
- A list of top matching gift companies or a searchable database of matching gift companies and forms.
- Your nonprofit’s contact information.
- Your nonprofit’s EIN / Tax ID number.
Each of these elements may be required from the request form that donors must submit when asking for a matched contribution from their company. So, make it easy for them to find without prompting by adding it front-and-center on your website.
The end of the year is the peak giving season, and a strong year-end strategy in which you promote matching gifts can help maximize fundraising. Year-end reminders can take many forms, from social media posts to email or direct mail. They’re especially important because some companies require you to submit a match request by the end of the calendar year in order to receive a match. However you choose to send year-end reminders, tailor each message to your supporter’s engagement history with your organization to encourage them in pursuing a matched contribution this year-end season.
Here are a few tips for sending out year-end reminders:
- Make sure to thank your donors. Start by thanking your loyal supporters for all of their contributions thus far and share with them the impact that their donations have already made. This can help encourage them to make an even greater impact by completing their matching gift request.
- Stress to donors that previous donations can still be matched. Especially stress this to donors who have already made a year-end contribution. The idea of matching already-donated funds may not be clear to them, but they should take advantage of the opportunity before the year is over.
- Encourage donors to research their organization’s specific deadlines. The most common deadlines for matching gift applications include end of the calendar year, a set number of months after the original donation was made (usually a year but can vary by company), or end of January or February of the year after the donation was made.
Because the end of the year is such a naturally lucrative period for your nonprofit, it’s even more important to make sure supporters request the funds for match-eligible contributions. This hectic time frame means it’s very busy at your organization, making it more difficult to reach out in one-off cases to encourage people to maximize their donations. Instead, be sure you prepare outreach materials ahead of time and look for new ways to automate the process, locating new opportunities for matches and creating an easy marketing opportunity.
Additionally, if you already know a supporter works for a company that matches gifts, like one of the top ten companies with corporate giving programs, you can save time by proactively reaching out to donors during the busy holiday season.
Acknowledgment and Recognition Letters
Acknowledging supporters’ contributions drives their connection to your cause by making them feel appreciated. Appreciation is key to developing long-term supporters at any organization. After all, according to 360MatchPro, 91% of organizations stop acknowledging recurring gifts by the third month. Going the extra mile to continuously thank your donors (no matter if they’ve given just once or hundreds of times) can set you apart from other organizations.
As you send out communications thanking donors, promote your matching gift program in your donation acknowledgment letters. Thank donors for their gift and explain how they can create an even greater impact at no additional cost. In order to ensure that your acknowledgment comes across as genuine, make sure your matching gift information is not phrased like asking for a new donation. Your acknowledgment should simply be a sign of appreciation rather than an additional solicitation opportunity.
For donors who do complete their matching gift request, be sure to reach back out and thank them again for following through on completing their matching gift applications. This will encourage them to continue to do so for future donations. You can even customize emails using an automation solution so that every supporter who completes the matching gift request receives a personalized, timely thank you.
Marketing matching gifts isn’t rocket science, and it can easily fit in with your everyday fundraising actions. Taking small actions that encourage your dedicated supporters to stay engaged and help you raise more without reaching back into their own pockets can make a huge difference at the end of the year. Thanks to a few simple promotional techniques, your nonprofit can start scoring more matched gifts in almost no time at all.
*Originally published May 2015 / Updated November 2021