Guest Post by Adam Weinger
Employer matching gifts are a favorite type of corporate partnership for everyone involved, yet, many organizations fail to make the most of this source of funding.
But why? A lot of the most common pitfalls when it comes to matching gifts concern the marketing and outreach you employ surrounding these programs.
Or, more notably, the lack of marketing. As a result, boosting matching gifts often relies on organizations taking the time to address these roadblocks.
In order to optimize success by promoting corporate gift-matching opportunities to supporters, it’s important to first understand what exactly is stopping them from securing a match on their own.
In this guide, we’ll address four of the most prevalent obstacles blocking matching gift success and provide easy solutions for each one:
- Donors are unaware that matching gift programs exist.
- Donors are unaware that their employer matches gifts.
- Donors don’t know how to request a match.
- Donors forget to request a match.
If you’re worried that your matching gift fundraising is underperforming, one (or more) of these obstacles may be to blame.
Ready to learn more about overcoming roadblocks and setting your matching gift efforts up for long-term success? Let’s get started!
Pitfall #1: Donors are unaware that matching gift programs exist.
Matching gift programs are widely available and offered by all sorts of businesses. In fact, research shows that more than 65% of Fortune 500 companies match donations made by employees, with a range of smaller corporations offering these programs as well.
However, millions of people (tons of whom are likely match-eligible) have never been informed of these types of programs’ existence.
To combat this first pitfall, it’s a good idea to spread awareness about matching gifts through a number of different marketing and outreach channels. For example, you’ll definitely want to promote these types of corporate giving programs on both your website and your social media platforms.
Don’t forget about outreach channels like email, text, and direct mail as well!
Including a short snippet about matching gifts on your “ways to give” page and within your online donation form can go a long way.
A donor is unaware of matching gift programs, is introduced to the idea on your site, and all of a sudden is interested in learning more and uncovering their eligibility!
You might even choose to create a dedicated matching gift page on your site with essential background information on matching gift programs, instructions for discovering a company’s giving program guidelines, and nonprofit details required for form submissions.
The goal here is to simply pique the donors’ interest and encourage them to determine their eligibility for these programs through their own employers—which brings us to pitfall #2.
Pitfall #2: Donors are unaware that their employer matches gifts.
Let’s say your donors have heard of matching gift programs, but they’ve never been informed of one offered by their employer.
They might assume that means the company doesn’t have one. Surely their employer would have made this known, right? Not so fast!
Thousands of companies with corporate matching gift programs fail to provide their employees with program guidelines or even share the existence of these opportunities in the first place.
That’s why it often falls on nonprofit organizations not only to inform donors about what matching gifts are but also to provide an easy way for individuals to determine their own eligibility.
One of the easiest ways to avoid this pitfall is by providing your donors access to a comprehensive matching gift database of employer information.
This type of tool can be embedded directly into your dedicated matching gift web page, “ways to give” page, or online donation form, as mentioned above. After a quick search of a company’s name, the user will be met with a ton of valuable program details, such as:
- Minimum and maximum donations matched
- Donation match ratios
- Types of eligible nonprofit causes
- Types of eligible employees
- Match request deadlines
Armed with a vast amount of employer-specific information, the donor should be able to quickly determine whether their gift can be matched! This way, they can prepare to take the next steps to secure a corporate gift.
Pitfall #3: Donors don’t know how to request a match.
When it comes to donors and matching gifts, one of the most commonly asked questions is “How do I request a match from my employer?”
At this point, your donor has determined that their employer does offer a matching gift program and that the donation they just made to your organization does fall within the company’s guidelines for match-eligible gifts. But what now?
We recommend providing donors with tangible next steps to follow in order to submit a match request with their employer.
If, for instance, a donor works for the Home Depot company, you can share a direct link to their online submission forms along with any available instructions or contact information for questions.
Like any virtual fundraiser, you’re likely to lose out on a ton of potential revenue if donors see the participation process as more trouble than it’s worth.
The more you can simplify corporate matching gift programs for your donors, the higher the likelihood that they’ll follow suit by requesting a match.
Pitfall #4: Donors forget to request a match.
Finally, you’ll likely have a group of donors who are aware of their company’s matching gift programs, understand how to request a match, and even intend to do so—but simply forget or get side-tracked before completing the process.
For these individuals, a few strategic reminders can go a long way. This is particularly true if you include company-specific details, program guidelines, and online submission forms, as discussed above.
We recommend sending your first matching gift follow-up two or three days after the donor makes their initial gift.
You don’t want this communication to be too soon after the donation as you’ll risk your message being discarded as part of the automated donation receipt. If you wait too long, however, you’ll likely miss out on the post-donation momentum and engagement the donor feels towards your cause.
Then, for match-eligible donors who still have yet to secure their company match, you can follow up again in your year-end giving appeals!
Many companies with matching gift programs will make their matches through the end of the calendar year in which the donation was made, sometimes extending a few months into the following year as a grace period. Donors already feel particularly charitable during the end of the year, so it’s a great time to remind donors of their matching gift status and encourage them to complete the request process with their employer.
Donors love matching gifts because these unique giving opportunities allow them to make an even larger impact on your organization.
When they see that their gifts are going even further towards your cause, supporters often feel more connected to your community as a critical partner, which often leads to ongoing, long-term support.
When you’re aware of common pitfalls beforehand, you can prepare your team to overcome them and raise more corporate dollars for your mission overall.
Just remember to share ample information on matching gifts with supporters and simplify the request process as much as possible.
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.
Double the Donation’s robust solution, 360MatchPro, provides nonprofits with automated tools to identify match-eligible donors, drive matches to completion, and gain actionable insights. 360MatchPro integrates directly into donation forms, CRMs, social fundraising software, and other nonprofit technology solutions to capture employment information and follow up appropriately with donors about matching gifts.