10 Best Practices for Matching-Gifts Success
For fundraisers looking to boost their fundraising campaigns, matching gifts provide attractive incentives for organizations and donors alike. Fundraisers have the bonus of a built-in offer to "double your gift," not to mention the support of the person(s) providing the match, while donors have even more reason to give to their causes of choice by having their dollars stretch even further.
At Blackbaud's annual bbcon earlier this week, Blackbaud Chief Scientist Chuck Longfield gave an overview of this popular fundraising strategy and provided best practices for running a matching-gifts campaign in his session, "Don't Leave Money on the Table: 10 Best Practices for Success With Matching Gifts."
While "you won't get rich" from matching gifts, Longfield said, it's a great way to boost any fundraising campaign. Plus, there are lots of opportunities out there. In fact, Longfield said:
- There are more than 19,000 matching-gift programs in the U.S.
- Nearly one in 10 donors work for a company that matches gifts.
- And matching gifts make up 10 percent of all corporate philanthropy.
He added that the process is getting easier, with vendors increasingly providing matching-gift services.
But that doesn't mean running a matching-gift campaign is seamless. Fundraisers still need to remember and implement these 10 best practices Longfield shared.
1. Remind donors to match their gifts
Put call-outs and reminders to matching gifts anywhere and everywhere. That includes "reminder" text in solicitations, matching-gift text in the acknowledgment and receipt, and a buckslip or leaflet as an add-on to an appeal or thank-you.
Longfield also suggested posting matching-gift information on your website and being sure to mention it during telemarketing calls. It's always a good idea to tap constituents at companies with matching-gift programs as well.
2. Acquire employment information
Another way to unearth potential matching gifts is by gathering data on your donors and supporters, particularly employment information to. Longfield said you should:
- Ask for employment information on your website, in the mail and on the phone.
- Ask on event registration forms.
- Check records from prior matching gifts.
- Infer from e-mail addresses potential matching-gift prospects — e.g., Check@Apple.com.
- Collect business cards.
- Search online, LinkedIn and newspapers.
- Survey your donors.
- Match records from United Way donors.
- Run your database through screening services.
- Remember to record everything in your database.
3. Allow donors to look up matching-gifts companies
Make it simple for your donors to research matching-gift information and learn as much about the companies providing the matches. Donors like to know as much as they can about who is matching their dollars, so put that information on your website and in your marketing messages.
4. Send reminders
Remind donors who indicate their gifts will be matched by their companies to acquire the match, prior matching-gift donors that matching gifts are still an option and donors who work for matching-gift companies, Longfield said.
5. Send matching-gift forms
Mail blank matching-gift forms or even "signature ready" forms, he said. He suggested providing an e-mail link to your matching-gift form in your e-mail marketing as well.
6. Notify donors when matched is received
Just as you provide gift receipts and thank-you acknowledgments for donations, do the same with matching-gifts, notifying donors when the match was received.
7. Ask your best, most likely donors to match
Contact donors who are most likely to match gifts, Longfield said. This includes those who have provided matching gifts in the past, high-value and loyal donors who donate regularly, and even major-gifts donors. He said it's even a good idea to ask new donors if it's something they'd consider.
"It's worth the extra letter or phone call," he said.
8. Follow up on unfulfilled matches
Sometimes a matching gift may not come through, either due to the forms not being filled out or the donor forgetting to get the sign-off from his or her company. Longfield said you should follow up with any unfulfilled matches by contacting the company itself.
9. Benchmark your results
Include all sources of revenue (annual fund, major giving, event, etc.), and compare results for the matching-gift campaign to both your own fundraising departments and matching-gift results from organizations with similar resources.
Longfield also said you should compare key performance indicators such as:
- Total matching-gift dollars and the percentage of total revenue.
- Total matching-gift dollars by company.
- Number of donors with employment information.
- Resources expended to acquire matching gifts.
- Percentage of matching gifts written off (due to employment change, cancellation of program, collection efficiency, etc.).
10. Include match in recognition
Longfield said you should:
- Encourage matches to qualify for a higher-dollar giving club or recognition level.
- Recognize the cumulative gift as part of a donor's annual-giving total in your annual report.
- Send a separate acknowledgment to the donor when a corporate match is received.
- Invite donors who match to events.