A photo of nonprofit professionals meeting next to the title of the article: How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in Marketing Matching Gifts

How to Avoid Common Pitfalls in Marketing Matching Gifts

Julia Claire Campbell Fundraising, Marketing, Nonprofits Leave a Comment

Guest Post by Adam Weinger

Employer matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy that benefits everyone involved. Nonprofits get additional revenue, employees support the causes they care about, and businesses gain a reputation boost for supporting social good. 

However, many organizations fail to make the most of this source of funding.

When it comes to matching gifts, the most common pitfalls concern nonprofit marketing and outreach. To optimize your matching gift marketing plan, it’s important to first understand what exactly stops donors from securing a match on their own.

In this guide, we’ll address four of the most prevalent obstacles blocking matching gift success: 

  1. Donors are unaware that matching gift programs exist.
  2. Donors are unaware that their employer matches gifts.
  3. Donors don’t know how to request a match.
  4. Donors forget to request a match.

If you’re worried that your matching gift fundraising strategy is underperforming, one (or more) of these obstacles may be to blame. Fortunately, for each roadblock we examine, we’ll also provide a solution!

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, Double the Donation’s matching gift statistics report finds that 65% of Fortune 500 companies match donations made by employees, not to mention the numerous smaller corporations that offer 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, spread awareness about matching gifts through various marketing and outreach channels. We recommend using a mix of inbound and outbound marketing channels. This helpful graphic from Getting Attention’s nonprofit advertising guide lists a few options for each:

e recommend using a mix of inbound and outbound marketing channels. This helpful graphic from Getting Attention’s nonprofit advertising guide lists a few options for each

Alt text: Outbound and inbound marketing channels are listed with PPC, social media, and print ads in the outbound category, and SEO, social media posts, and blogging in the inbound category. 

  • Outbound marketing are messages that your nonprofit pushes out to a broad audience. For example, social media ads, newspaper ads, and search engine ads would all be considered outbound marketing. 
  • Inbound marketing consists of content your nonprofit creates for the purpose of prospective supporters finding it on their own. For example, you might write a search engine-optimized blog post about the positive impact matching gifts have on your mission. Individuals researching your cause might stumble upon it, learn about matching gifts, and start the matching gift process themselves. 

To maximize your outreach, create content on your website about matching gifts, such as including information about them on your “Ways to Give” page and on your online donation form.

Then, promote matching gifts to your audience as a way to maximize their giving. Emphasize how donors can double their impact for free or just how widespread matching gift programs are. The goal is to pique donors’ interest and encourage them to determine their matching gift eligibility.

Pitfall #2: Donors are unaware that their employer matches gifts.

Let’s say your donors have heard of matching gift programs, but their employer has never mentioned whether their company has one.

Unfortunately, thousands of companies with corporate matching gift programs fail to provide their employees with program guidelines or even inform them about 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 eligibility. One of the easiest ways to help donors is with a matching gift database.

This tool can be embedded directly into your dedicated matching gift page, “Ways to Give” page, or online donation form. 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 their employer’s matching gift guidelines, the donor should be able to quickly determine their eligibility. Then, they can take the next steps to secure a corporate match gift.

Pitfall #3: Donors don’t know how to request a match.

One of the most commonly asked questions about matching gifts is “How do I request a match from my employer?” At this point, your donor has determined that their employer has a matching gift program and their gift is eligible for a match. But what now?

We recommend providing donors with tangible next steps to follow for submitting a match request.

If, for instance, a donor works for the Home Depot company, your matching gift database can share a direct link to their online match submission form, along with any available instructions. Like any online fundraiser, participating should be as easy as possible to maximize revenue. The more you can simplify corporate matching gift programs for your donors, the higher the likelihood that they’ll complete the match request process. 

Pitfall #4: Donors forget to request a match.

Finally, you likely have a group of donors who are aware of their companies’ matching gift programs, understand how to request a match, and even intend to do so⁠. But they simply forget to complete the process.

For these individuals, a few strategic reminders can go a long way. We recommend following up by:

  • 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 initial donation to avoid seeming ungrateful for their gift. However, if you wait too long, you’ll likely miss out on the post-donation momentum donors feel after giving.
  • 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 accept match requests through the end of the calendar year, and some even extend their deadlines into the following year as a grace period. Donors already feel particularly charitable during the holiday season at the end of the year, so it’s a great time to remind them of their matching gift status and encourage them to complete the request process with their employer.
  • Last, after receiving a gift from their employer, follow up with a thank-you message as soon as possible. This will encourage them to continue requesting matches for each subsequent gift. You might even create a page on your website or a virtual donor wall that specifically lists the names of and thanks matching gift donors.

Donors love matching gifts because these unique giving opportunities allow them to make an even larger impact on your organization without reaching back into their wallets. And when supporters see that their gifts are going even further toward your cause, they often feel more connected to your community, which often leads to ongoing, long-term support.

When you’re aware of common matching gift marketing 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.

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