The 5 Best Practices for Matching Gifts Success
Matching gifts don’t donate themselves.
Companies that offer matching gifts don’t always do the best job of internally promoting their employee-giving programs, and as a result, many eligible donors don’t submit matching gift requests.
If your nonprofit wants to improve its matching gift fundraising, then these top five best practices are for you:
1. Become a matching gift expert.
Imagine studying for medical school. You’ve got stacks of books to read, packets full of terms to memorize and case studies to drill into your long-term memory. Only an endless amount of sleepless nights will lead to the mastery of knowledge that you need.
Becoming a matching gift expert is much easier than studying for medical school. Matching gifts have their complexities, but a small amount of effort can make you more knowledgeable than most. There’s no need to go on a field trip to the Museum of Matching Gift History or to seek out the wise elders of the ancient guild of matching gifts.
Just read. That’s the best advice I can give. Do a Google search for matching gifts and read some articles, and you’ll be a matching gift expert by the end of the day. Then you’ll have the necessary knowledge to get your organization set on the right path to landing more doubled donations.
Get started: Read an overview of corporate matching gift programs.
2. Make information easy to access.
Have you recently spent time on an outdated website? The pages take too long to load, the information you want is hard to find and the format is far from eye-appealing.
Donors don’t want to waste their time. They want to help your cause, but they don’t want to be asked to submit matching gift requests and then have to spend a good chunk of time figuring out how to do it.
There are a few great ways to make submitting matching gift requests as easy as possible:
- Matching gift search box. Donors can type in their employers’ names and quickly find out if they offer matching gift programs. If employers do, then donors can easily access the necessary forms, guidelines and submission portals.
- List of companies. Some nonprofits don’t want to pay for a matching gift search box, and there are alternatives. Your nonprofit can list top matching gift companies, so donors can easily scan and see if their employers offer a program. If you want to make a list of companies specific to who your donors work for, then tools such as prospect research can help to obtain necessary employer information that you can use to find out which of these employers offer matching gifts.
- Detailed instructions. Donors want to know how and where to go to submit matching gifts. Provide step-by-step instructions for the companies that are your organization’s largest matching gift contributors, so donors can save time and feel more encouraged to give you the extra funds.
All of these strategies should be implemented on a dedicated matching gift page. This is where donors should be directed to learn any and all information about how they can make their money go twice as far.
Get started: Read more about strategies to increase donations using your website.
3. Promote matching gifts to donors.
No matter what you’re doing to improve your matching gift fundraising, you’ll be hard-pressed to attain success without a concerted effort to promote corporate giving to your donors.
As I detailed in the introduction, a lot of eligible donors don’t give matching gifts due to a lack of awareness. Promotion is how you create awareness.
Great matching gift marketing strategies include:
- Email. Include matching gift appeals in acknowledgement letters and newsletters. Many nonprofits use CRMs to easily manage bulk email distributions in the same place as they conduct other important fundraising activities. This helps make fundraising an efficient, streamlined process.
- On your website. Matching gift information and advertisements can be placed on your homepage, on a dedicated matching gift page, on the donation page, and other noticeable locations.
- Social media. Act like a human on social media to promote matching gifts to donors in ways that they’ll actually respond to.
Many donors prefer online donations. If your online identity isn’t promoting matching gifts, then you won’t raise the kind of awareness that you need to in order to land more doubled donations.
Get started: Read all about the variety of ways that nonprofits can market matching gifts.
4. Say "thank you."
There’s a reason why most kids look up at the scoreboard after swishing a free throw. They want to see that their good efforts actually led to a positive result for their team.
Likewise, donors want to know that their efforts have helped your nonprofit. "Thank you" notes for initial donations are not enough. Matching gifts deserve "thank you" messages, too, and can improve your donor retention.
When donors know that their gifts have been received and are being put to good use, then they’ll likely be more inclined to give future gifts.
Good matching gift "thank you" note etiquette includes:
- Email versus direct mail. Some donors prefer email. Others respond better to direct mail. Learn your donors’ preferences and communicate with them in the ways they prefer.
- Typed versus handwritten. You can’t handwrite every "thank you," but you could handwrite "thank you" notes to your most important donors. Also, simply signing your name at the bottom of a letter can do a lot to let donors know that you truly appreciate their personal contributions.
- What to include. In your "thank you" letters, tell donors how matching gifts allow your nonprofit to do more. Be as specific as possible, and invite donors to continue to interact with your organization through volunteer opportunities and events.
A good "thank you" letter can be the difference between retaining and losing donors. Show your gratefulness, and make sure donors know how much they’re helping the team.
Get started: Learn how to write a fundraising "thank you" letter.
5. Measure your performance.
Companies use matching gift programs to keep employees engaged. Your nonprofit hopes that matching gifts make donors feel more engaged, too, so they’ll continue to donate in the future. From both sides, matching gifts are all about making people come back for more.
How do you know if your nonprofit is doing a good job with its matching gift fundraising? You’ve got to ask yourself some tough questions.
And you’ve got to track the answers to those questions:
- How many matching gift donors have given multiple times?
- Did you raise more money from matching gifts this year or last year?
- How much of your total revenue do matching gifts account for?
- Which companies do you receive the most matching gifts from?
- What costs go into the acquisition of matching gifts?
Too many nonprofits neglect tracking their matching gift fundraising, though it should be part of their broader fundraising. The money might be free, but the potential impact of doubled donations is worth quite a lot to your organization. Track matching gift data so you know what’s working, what’s not and how you can improve.
Get started: Learn five key elements of a successful matching gift campaign.
It’s simple to see how much more a $5,000 donation helps your nonprofit than a $2,500 gift. Ten $200 donations help more than ten $100 donations, too, as that’s $1,000 extra in free money that companies want to give your organization.
Take some time to implement matching gift best practices and your next fundraising campaign could see a big boost. In fact, all of your future campaigns will be poised to strike more fundraising gold than ever.