The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

3 Ways to Incorporate Matching Gifts into Donor Acquisition

Nonprofits are always looking for creative ways to encourage first-time donations. From empowering marketing strategies to high-profile corporate partnerships, you’ve tried it all!

But have you considered matching gifts as a donor acquisition strategy? Not only is it possible, it’s a great investment!

Corporate matching gift programs allow your donors to double or triple the impact of their donation without contributing any more of their own money—just a few minutes of their time. After making a donation to your nonprofit, all your donors have to do is fill out their employers’ paperwork. As long as all eligibility requirements are met, the company’s next step is writing a check and sending it to your nonprofit!

You can significantly increase the value  of your new donors’ first gifts by incorporating matching gifts into the process. Even better, matching gift information can actually encourage more (and higher!) donations.

We know the importance of metrics and statistics in fundraising. So here are some important statistics to keep in mind when considering your matching gift strategy:

  • 84% of donors are more likely to donate if their employer offers to match their donation.
  • 71% of donors are more likely to respond to fundraising appeals that mention matching.
  • 51% of donors on average increase their gift when fundraising appeals mention matching.

Note: These statistics come courtesy of Double the Donation’s original and curated research.

What do these metrics tell us?

If you’re ready to take your donor acquisition strategy to the next level, implement the following matching gift strategies:

  1. Feature matching gifts on online donation forms
  2. Reach out to local companies and current partners
  3. Invest in a prospect research process

Read on to learn how to put these revenue-boosting matching gift strategies into practice!

3 Ways to Incorporate Matching Gifts into Donor Acquisition

1. Feature matching gifts on donation forms

Nonprofits revamping their donor acquisition strategy often revisit their donation form, and rightly so! If a donor has made it all the way to your online donation form, you don’t want the form itself to dissuade them from following through with the donation process.

Following best practices of donation form design can greatly decrease your risk of donor abandonment. We’re talking about:

  • Keeping it simple. The fewer fields to fill out, the less time your form will take, and the more likely your donor is to complete the process.
  • Mobile optimizing. Donors are doing more and more on their phones, from banking to shopping to donating. Forms that don’t load properly on a mobile device can’t collect donations from the ever-growing pool of mobile donors.
  • Branding to your nonprofit. Donors are far more likely to trust a donation form that looks professional, and a large part of professionalism is your branding.

It’s time to add matching gifts to your donation form best practices!

As the statistics from the first section of this blog post illustrate, even mentioning matching gifts can encourage more than half of donors to make a donation—or to increase the amount of their donation. Matching gift information can be the extra nudge your donors need.

On your donation form, incorporate matching gift information in ways that make the process seem just as important and easy as it can be. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Include a matching gift database plugin. Install a plugin that allows your donors to search whether their employer offers a corporate matching gift program and then directs them to their employers’ forms and guidelines. Software plugins also make tracking matching gift requests easier for your team on the administrative side.
  • Limit information to the essentials. No one wants to read giant blocks of text, and the last thing you want to do is provide so much information to read that your donors abandon your donation form. Just explain the essential idea: they can make their donation go further, and their employer will make up the difference!
  • Avoid industry-specific terminology. Many donors haven’t heard about corporate philanthropy programs generally, so how can you expect them to know the term “matching gifts?” Instead of asking them to submit matching gift paperwork, use phrase like “make your donation go twice as far.”

If you incorporate matching gift information into your online donation form in this way, you show your donors how valuable these programs are in furthering your mission. But, importantly, you also make the programs easy to understand and follow through with.

3 Ways to Incorporate Matching Gifts into Donor Acquisition

2. Reach out to local companies and current partners

Matching gift programs involve three parties: your nonprofit, your donors, and the companies sponsoring the programs. Don’t just focus on informing your donors about matching gift programs. Reach out to companies, too!

There are a few ways to approach matching gifts from the company side.

First, consider your current corporate partners

You might have existing relationships with companies who have sponsored events, provided in-kind donations to your fundraising campaigns, or regularly sent employees to volunteer (or even sit on the board!).

If these companies also offer matching gift programs, these are the places to start when looking for new donors. Employees of the companies with which you have existing relationships will already have heard the name of your nonprofit. Chances are they are familiar with your brand and your mission, maybe even with some of the specific campaigns you’ve championed in the past.

Leverage this familiarity! Introduce your nonprofit to employees who aren’t currently donors through:

  • Flyers, emails, and company bulletins.
  • In-person meetings, like lunch-and-learns.
  • Referrals from employees who donate to your nonprofit.

For some of these methods, you should ask for permission from your point of contact within the company. But that’s the beauty of existing relationships. Companies are much more likely to respond positively to a representative from a nonprofit they have worked successfully with in the past than to a random solicitation.

The same logic applies to the employees themselves. You have a much better chance of these employees becoming donors and matching their gifts than if you reached out to total strangers. If their employer and coworkers can vouch for your organization and your mission, you’ve already risen in their esteem!

Next, approach local businesses

Most businesses want to support philanthropy, but not all businesses know how to get involved. Sometimes, it’s in your interest as a nonprofit to approach them and show them that philanthropy isn’t just possible, it’s a smart business decision.

Start with companies that employ a significant portion of your current donors so that you can get their insight for the best person within the company to reach out to. Send information about what types of programs are out there and the benefits of each.

(You’ll need to make sure these new programs’ eligibility requirements allow you to receive the benefit!  Some corporate matching gift programs limit the types of nonprofits that can receive corporate funds, e.g., just healthcare fundraising organizations or just educational institutions.)

Get your donors in on it, too! If a local business hears from enough of its employees and customers that a matching program is in demand, they will start to consider the benefits from:

  • Tax breaks
  • Good publicity
  • Customer impression
  • Employee satisfaction

Once their programs are set up, you will have the opportunity to reach out to all their newly match-eligible employees to solicit donations. The excitement of a new program will help your asks seem more timely!

Last but not least, check out top matching gift programs

More than half of Fortune 500 companies offer corporate matching gift programs to their employees. Chances are you have an employee of one of those companies somewhere in your donor database.

Start your donor acquisition strategy using the most popular matching gift programs from within your existing database. Check which of your donors are match eligible, then send specialized messages to them to share with their coworkers.

These messages should be a short summary of your nonprofit’s mission and operations, as well as information about the company’s corporate matching gifts program. Direct employees to the proper forms and guidelines as well as your donation form.

Don’t forget to look beyond your current donors’ work affiliations with this strategy. If your donors also attend community events, university alumni gatherings, or other meetings where they would encounter employees of other match-eligible employees, make sure they know where on your website to point their colleagues who want to donate and match their gifts.

3 Ways to Incorporate Matching Gifts into Donor Acquisition

3. Invest in a prospect research process

Prospect research is a proven method of finding new donors for nonprofits. Depending on the type of nonprofit or the type of fundraising you’re involved in, you might be looking for some specific qualities in new donors. The best prospect research tools and services will allow you to build those specifications into your search.

When you’re focusing on matching gifts in your donor acquisition process, you should incorporate corporate philanthropy markers into your prospect generation.

That might mean looking for:

  • Employees of companies with popular matching gift programs
  • Coworkers of current match-eligible donors
  • Donors who have matched donations to other nonprofits
  • C-level executives or owners of companies who have or might be interested in starting a matching gift program at their business

The trick with prospects that come from outside your current donor database is the lack of a previous connection. Without an existing emotional attachment to your mission, it takes more from you to turn these prospects into donors.

But you already know that these prospects are connected to corporate philanthropy, so lean on that knowledge! Show potential new donors the extra impact that their donations can have because they can participate in matching gift programs (or start one!).

If prospective donors  know that they’ll only have to give half the amount they want to donate and still contribute the same amount to your cause in the end, why wouldn’t they take advantage of the opportunity?

Bonus! For more tips about prospect generation, check out this helpful prospect generator guide from DonorSearch!

Closing Thoughts

Matching gift programs are an untapped pool of potential for most nonprofits. Don’t let the lack of donor awareness hold you back! Boost your donor acquisition with these matching gift strategies and watch your corporate philanthropy revenue soar. 

3 Ways to Incorporate Matching Gifts into Donor AcquisitionAdam Weinger is the president of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools for nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.

Topics: matching gifts Donor Acquisition