Are you looking for the ultimate guide to matching gifts?

You’re in the right place!

Matching gift programs are one of the best channels to tap into when you want to take advantage of corporate philanthropy.

Don’t believe us?

Check out this statistic: an estimated $2-3 billion is donated through matching gift programs each year.

That’s a lot of money, but an even bigger stat to note is that about $4-7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed every year.

So the question you should be asking is: what can I do to tap into matching gift programs, and how will they benefit my nonprofit?

Lucky for you, we’re going to cover all of that and more in this guide. 

Matching gifts can significantly boost your fundraising revenue, which means your team will have more funds available for programs, events, and everything else you do to serve your mission. Let’s get started on the basics so you can begin tapping into this channel ASAP.

What matching gifts are…

In a nutshell? A matching gift is a donation a company makes to match an employee’s initial donation to a nonprofit. So when an individual makes a gift of $50 to an organization, their employer will make an additional gift of $50, for a total of $100.

A matching gift is a donation a company makes to match an employee’s initial donation to a nonprofit.

Now, that’s assuming the employer offers a 1:1 match ratio (a dollar for dollar match). A match ratio can range anywhere from .5:1 to 4:1.

So, let’s say that $50 was matched at a 2:1 ratio instead. That means that initial $50 donation turns into $150 ($50 from the donor plus $100 from their employer)!

Now that our math lesson is over, let’s talk about how matching gifts actually work.

The overall process is pretty simple and tends to be the same across the board:

  1. An individual donates to a nonprofit.
  2. The individual checks their eligibility for matching gifts with their employer.
  3. The individual submits a request for a match to their employer.
  4. The employer reviews the request and verifies the donation with the nonprofit.
  5. The employer matches the gift.

The thing is, most companies have their own policies and guidelines when it comes to their employees submitting matching gift requests. 

These can include:

  • Minimum and maximum match amounts
  • Match ratios
  • Nonprofit eligibility
  • Employee eligibility

Not being able to figure out their employer’s guidelines can turn donors away from the process altogether, which brings us to our next point.

What your nonprofit could be missing out on…

Matching gifts seem like a pretty good deal, don’t they? Turning one donation into two? Well, as we’ve already indicated, not every donor knows how to go through the process of submitting a match request. Remember that number we mentioned earlier? Billions of dollars in matching gift funds go unclaimed every year.

Far too many organizations and donors overlook matching gift programs because there are too many company guidelines to keep track of, and nonprofits can’t easily track the companies their donors work for. Likewise, donors don’t always know whether their companies even offer matching gift programs.

So, it’s simple: matching gifts get overlooked.

But there are more reasons to pursue matching gifts than not.

For example:

Matching gifts have a huge impact on donations.

Did you know that 84% of donors say they’d be more likely to donate if a match was offered? That means if a donor is on the fence about giving to your nonprofit, notifying them that they might be eligible for a match through their company could be the extra push they need to make their donation.

But it doesn’t stop there.

In addition to the donors who would give if a match were applied, 1 in 3 donors say they’d give a larger amount if a match was available.

So not only would you get a donation in the first place, but the amount could be even bigger than it would have been otherwise!

We’ve talked a lot about company matching gift programs and how they can differ from each other. But a common theme is that many of these programs are pretty generous. To give you an idea of what your organization could be missing out on, here are some incredible matching gift programs:

The Coca-Cola Company matches donations made by full-time employees or retirees up to $10,000. As if that’s not enough, they offer a 2:1 match, which means the total maximum cap is $20,000!

Soros Fund Management matches donations made by full-time employees to most nonprofits at up to a 2:1 ratio, with a maximum cap of $100,000.

Merck & Co. matches donations made by active employees at a 1:1 ratio up to $30,000. Most nonprofits are eligible for these matching gifts.

This is just a taste of how generous a lot of these matching gift programs can be. Many companies’ maximum match amounts are in the thousands, and their minimum match amount can be as low as $25, if there’s even a minimum at all.

It should be pretty clear by now that there are a lot of benefits to tapping into matching gift programs. That’s why we’re going to dive deeper into those benefits next.

Who benefits from matching gifts…

As we get into the benefits of matching gift programs, we should also note that it’s not just nonprofits that can benefit from them.

In fact, matching gift programs benefit nonprofits, donors, and companies. Here’s how:

Benefits for NonprofitsThese are the benefits of matching gifts for nonprofits.

Let’s start with you. Matching gifts benefit many types of nonprofit organizations. While some companies are specific about what type of organization they’ll match donations to, a majority of 501(c)(3) organizations are usually eligible. And as a nonprofit, every donation dollar counts. Beyond just doubling donations, matching gifts offer nonprofits a way to build long-term relationships with companies and donors. The more support you have, the more you’ll be able to accomplish.

Benefits for DonorsThese are the benefits of matching gifts for donors.

Matching gifts benefit donors, too. When a donor gives to your organization and then successfully requests a match from their employer, they’re essentially doubling the impact of their gift. This gives donors a greater sense of pride knowing that their donation went twice as far.

Benefits for CompaniesThese are the benefits of matching gifts for companies.

There are many benefits for companies, too. By taking part in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs like matching gifts, companies maintain a positive public image, keeping their employees and consumers happy. In terms of tax benefits, companies can also deduct the amount they matched from the original donation.

In short, matching gift programs benefit everyone involved. Nonprofits get extra support, donors feel proud for making their contributions go even further, and companies look great for supporting nonprofits.

Top 3 benefits of matching gift programs…

As a nonprofit specifically, there are even more benefits of matching gift programs you should be aware of. For that reason, we’ve compiled the top three perks you should keep in mind when deciding whether you want to pursue this type of corporate giving program: 

1. A second donation for the cost of soliciting one.

The most obvious benefit? Matching gifts are cost-effective—you get a second donation for the cost of soliciting one. Basically, this means you’ll get more revenue from one donation without asking donors to reach back into their own pockets. You’ll also save the time you would’ve spent soliciting a separate donation from another donor. It’s a win-win!

2. A deepened relationship with supporters.

Beyond just the monetary aspect, matching gifts allow your nonprofit to develop a deepened relationship with supporters. Matching gifts can actually help with donor retention, which means the more you mention matching gifts and keep your donors in the loop, the higher your retention rate will be. Donors will also feel more engaged with your organization when they know they’re making a bigger impact with their gifts. 

3. Increased fundraising revenue to put toward your programs.

When your organization actively pursues matching gifts, you can significantly increase your fundraising revenue. That means you’ll be able to put on more programs and events that benefit your constituents. 

Matching gifts can also aid in prospect research and finding major gift donors. Imagine if a major donor was eligible for matching gifts through their company—that would be a huge boost for your nonprofit!

Just thinking about these top benefits of matching gifts should get your team excited. There’s so much untapped potential out there that you can explore.

How to raise even more from matching gifts…

You might be thinking that making matching gifts part of your fundraising strategy is easier said than done. 

But there are ways you can benefit from matching gifts without requiring too much extra effort from your team.

We’ve written about promoting matching gifts before, and one of the best ways you can leverage matching gift programs is to meet donors at the point where they’re most engaged: the donation process.

Once a supporter lands on your donation page, that means they’re serious about donating to your cause. Remember how donors are more likely to give if a match is applied? That means if you actively promote matching gifts during your donation process, your donor will be more likely to give and check out the matching gift opportunity.

So, what’s the best way to promote matching gifts during the donation process?

In a nutshell: make it easy for the donor to find out about their company’s matching gift program.

Investing in a matching gift search tool, for example, is a great way to do this. All you have to do is embed the tool into your donation page (or anywhere on your site, really!), and donors can type in the name of their employer. If that employer offers a matching gift program, all of the info about their program (match ratios, eligibility, etc.) will pull up right away.

Here’s what that kind of search tool looks like:

Here's a matching gift search tool that is embedded into a website.

The great thing about matching gift search tools like the above is that they can be customized to match your organization’s branding. And when the tool is embedded directly into your donation process, more donors will see the matching gift opportunity and search for their employer. 

Don’t have your donors’ employment information? Some matching gift tools even come with real-time employer appends, meaning the tool will find and add that data for you instantly.

If you want to take this process several steps further, you can invest in a matching gift automation platform. An automation platform takes the info donors provide as they give to your nonprofit (such as email domain or employer name) and runs it against a database of thousands of matching gift programs. If it turns out your donor works for a matching gift company, the platform will automatically send out a customizable email to that donor that explains how they can submit a match request.

Here’s what that email could look like:

This email is sent from an automated matching gifts platform.

Notice how the email identifies the donor’s employer and offers actionable steps to complete the matching gift process. A customizable experience will make the donor even more likely to be responsive.

When you drop matching gift solutions like these into the mix, you have a chance to skyrocket your matching gift revenue. If you really want to benefit from matching gifts, consider adding these to your team’s toolkit.

Sample matching gift letters…

If you’re looking for some guidance as you start to reach out about matching gifts, here are some basic matching gift letters you can use to tell donors about the opportunity. You probably already send out thank-you emails once a donor has contributed to your cause. Why not include these templates, too?

Sample Matching Gift Letter for Small Nonprofits:

Dear [donor’s name],

[nonprofit’s name] could not do what we do without you. Our mission needs all the support and help we can get, and your donation of [donation amount] has brought us further than we ever have been before. We are so close to our goal of [fundraising goal] and making [your mission] happen.

There’s a good chance your employer offers a matching gift program to help double your impact. The process is simple, and we would love to do most of the work for you. In a few simple steps, you can increase your donation and continue to change lives:

Step 1: Contact your employer’s HR head to see if they offer a matching gift program to increase your donation.

Step 2: Your HR head will point you in the right direction and let you know if you need to fill out any necessary forms and be aware of submission deadlines.

Step 3: Once you have submitted your matching gift request form or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at our website [website URL] or phone number [phone number].

Additionally, if your company doesn’t offer a matching gift program or won’t match your donation, please let us know as well.

[nonprofit’s name] appreciates each donation and act of support you make.

Thank you,

[nonprofit’s name]

Sample Matching Gift Letter for Large Nonprofits:

Dear [donor’s name],

Here at [nonprofit name], we appreciate every gift we receive. Your donation of [donation amount] has made such an impact to [your mission] and has done [a recent accomplishment] for us.

We are so close to our donation goal of [fundraising goal] and we think you can help get us there. Your contribution has already done so much, but we believe your employer, [donor’s workplace], may have a matching gift program that will match your generous donation and double your impact!

Taking the steps to increase your gift is a simple process. Please see the instructions below:

Step 1: Contact your employer’s HR head to see if they offer a matching gift program to increase your donation.

Step 2: Your HR head will point you in the right direction and let you know if you need to fill out any necessary forms and be aware of submission deadlines.

Step 3: Once you have submitted your matching gift request form or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at our website [website URL] or phone number [phone number].

Additionally, if your company doesn’t offer a matching gift program or won’t match your donation, please let us know as well.

We appreciate your support tremendously. You are the reason we are able to reach our goal of [fundraising goal] and achieve [your mission.]

Thank you,

[nonprofit’s name]

Use templates like these to guide you as you set out to find matching gift revenue for your organization. Then, if you ultimately decide to invest in matching gift solutions, you’ll already have a great foundation for communicating with your donors!

Additional matching gift resources…

Hopefully our matching gifts guide has helped you learn more about this giving opportunity. If you want to do further reading, here are some awesome resources you can check out:

Find more matching gift revenue with a matching gift database!

As a nonprofit organization, everything comes down to your fundraising efforts—whether you’ll be able to meet your program goals, put on a large event, pay for overhead costs, and most importantly, serve your mission.

Sometimes it can be hard to admit this, but fundraising revenue alone isn’t always enough. So what if you could double some of these existing dollars without asking donors to contribute more than they already have?

The answer is simple: matching gifts.

In this article, we’ll be talking specifically about corporate matching gifts, which allow donors to maximize their donations by reaching out to their employers for a company match. If you’re looking for ways to tap into this form of corporate philanthropy, you’re in the right place!

Let’s begin with the basics of matching gift programs, and then we’ll show you how to promote matching gifts to your donor base. Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

1. Matching Gift Basics

The concept of matching gifts is pretty simple: donors give to an organization, submit a match request to their employer, and the employer sends the organization a matching donation.

It seems like everyone should be doing this, right? But there’s a problem: many donors don’t realize their company offers a matching gift program, and even if they do, they aren’t sure how to submit a match request.

Clearing up the haziness surrounding corporate matching gift programs is the first step you need to take as a nonprofit so you and your donors can fully take advantage of them. That starts with understanding the rules of these programs.

Rules for Corporate Matching Gifts

In general, corporate matching gift programs have thresholds that need to be met before the company will issue a matching donation. It’s important to know what these thresholds are so you can make the matching gift process run a lot smoother.

Consider these rules so you can understand how to promote matching gifts.

Here are the basic thresholds you should be aware of:

  • Minimum and maximum match amounts. Typically, companies have a minimum and maximum donation amount they’ll match. The minimum amount is usually around $25, while the maximum can be in the thousands.
  • Match ratio. Most companies match dollar for dollar (a 1:1 ratio), while some companies match at an even higher ratio. In general, ratios can range from .5:1 all the way to 4:1.
  • Employee eligibility. Another guideline to be aware of is whether a donor’s employment status is eligible for a company match. Companies typically specify whether full-time employees, part-time employees, or retirees are eligible. In some cases, this can even expand to spouses or domestic partners of those employees.
  • Nonprofit eligibility. This is a big one. Is your nonprofit eligible to receive a matching donation from the donor’s company? Most companies have a set list of organization types that they’ll donate to, which can include educational institutions, arts and cultural organizations, health and human services, and others. The most common restriction is around religious organizations, but again, this can vary by employer.

Understanding these rules for corporate matching gift programs will ensure that your nonprofit makes the most of eligible donations. But there’s more that goes into the matching gift process than meeting the initial guidelines. Your organization plays a key role in the next step: verification.

Verifying Corporate Matching Gifts

One of the most common ways nonprofits accidentally miss out on getting a matching donation from a company is by not verifying the gift. It might go without saying, but actually confirming with the matching gift company that your organization received a donation is pretty important.

Many companies use a third-party vendor to manage their matching gift process and allow nonprofits to verify donations. If your organization will be dealing with these vendors, you’ll want your team to be up-to-speed on how to use them. Whether it’s logging into an online portal or mailing in a letter, do not forget to verify the donation.

Once the donation has been verified, the company will submit their match!

2. Promoting Matching Gifts

Making the most of matching gift programs means understanding how they work. But you won’t get very far past that stage if your organization doesn’t actively promote this giving opportunity to your supporters.

There are several effective ways your team can get matching gifts on your donors’ minds. Check them out below:

If you want to know how to promote matching gifts, consider placing info about matching gifts on your donation page.On the Donation Page

If you think that supporters are most engaged with your organization during the donation process…you’re correct! Those who land on your donation page are seriously considering donating to your nonprofit. That much is certain.

But what if we told you that 84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered? That would mean if they saw an opportunity about matching gifts on your donation page, it could be the extra push they need to submit their donation.

Just a simple mention of matching gifts or using a matching gift search tool (more on that below!) will notify donors that their gift can go twice as far and encourage them to begin the process of requesting a match.

Another way to promote matching gifts is through your confirmation page.On the Confirmation Page

Congratulations—your supporter made a donation to your organization! Now what?

The first thing they’re likely to see after pressing Submit is a confirmation page that acknowledges their donation. For many donors, once they’ve given the gift, the process is pretty much over for them. Lucky for you, they’re still close to the height of their engagement.

That’s why promoting matching gift opportunities on your confirmation page is an excellent way to go. Donors already feel good about their gift. Why not make them feel even better by promoting an opportunity to stretch their contribution even further?

Learn how to promote matching gifts by using a dedicated matching gifts page.On a Dedicated Matching Gift Page

Even if supporters are just checking out your organization for the first time and browsing around your website, there are other ways you can promote matching gifts—even if they’re not actively looking to donate.

A dedicated matching gift page, or even a “Ways to Give” page, should include detailed information about matching gift programs and their impact on your nonprofit. Featuring this information in a prominent place on your website will both educate supporters about matching gifts and encourage them to donate in the first place.

Social media is another great place to promote matching gifts.On Social Media

If your organization is active on social media, consider using your platform to share information about matching gifts. Even better, you can schedule posts throughout the year so you don’t have to worry about forgetting.

Link your followers back to your website for more information, use visuals when you can, and keep your messages short and sweet.

If you want to know how to promote matching gifts, use your communications.In Your Communications

Beyond promoting matching gifts on your website or social media platforms, your email list is a huge opportunity to get the word out about doubling donations.

There are a few different ways you can incorporate matching gift letters as part of your email outreach and promotion strategy:

  • Thank-you emails. Once a donor has submitted their gift, they’re likely going to receive a confirmation email from your nonprofit thanking them for their donation. This is the perfect spot to also mention that their donation can go twice as far with a matching gift.
  • Newsletters. Does your team send out newsletters on a regular basis? Why not include matching gift information in a dedicated section of the email? Or, you can even send out one or two dedicated matching gift newsletters each year.
  • Year-end emails. A majority of charitable giving takes place during the holiday season. Send out holiday messages as part of your year-end campaign that highlight matching gifts to potential donors. Many companies also allow donors to request a match through the end of the year in which they gave, so be sure to encourage existing donors to check whether their earlier gifts are eligible.

Include links in any of these emails that direct donors back to your website for more information. This is why it’s a good idea to have a dedicated matching gift page on your site.

If you’re looking to take your email outreach a step further, consider using specific links within your messages that redirect donors to different pages of your website. For example:

  • If a donor has submitted a match request, encourage them to click a link in your email that will redirect them to a thank-you page on your website.
  • If a donor determines that their donation is not eligible for a matching gift, offer a link they can click that will show them alternate ways to show their support.
  • If a donor wants to unsubscribe from emails, redirect them to the corresponding page on your website.

Not only does this improve the donor journey, but it also gives your team a way to keep track of which donors have submitted matching gift requests, which donors are not eligible, and which donors want to unsubscribe.

Lastly, don’t forget to incorporate direct mail! Include postcards or inserts that contain info about matching gifts with an easy link or QR code to send donors to your matching gifts page. These inserts can go into any of your printed communications to help spread the word about the opportunity.

Sample Matching Gift Letters

If you’re looking for specific examples of the matching gift communications we’ve talked about, you’re in luck! Here are some sample matching gift letters your team can send out to promote matching gift opportunities:

Sample 1: The simple nonprofit matching gift letter.

Dear [donor’s name],

Thank you so much for your generous donation of [donation amount] to our nonprofit. Your contribution has already made such an impact to [your mission] by [example of physical impact]. We cannot thank you enough.

We think you might be able to double your impact! Your employer, [donor’s workplace], may offer a matching gift program that can increase your gift! Matching gift programs are a form of corporate philanthropy where businesses match the donations their employees make to charitable organizations.

Taking the steps to get your gifts matched is a simple process and we are happy to walk you through the process:

Step 1: Contact your employer’s HR head to see if they offer a matching gift program to increase your donation.

Step 2: Your HR head will point you in the right direction and let you know if you need to fill out any necessary forms and be aware of submission deadlines.

Step 3: Once you have submitted your matching gift request form or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at [website URL] or [phone number].

Additionally, if your company doesn’t offer a matching gift program or won’t match your donation, please let us know as well.

We appreciate your support tremendously. You are the reason we are able to [recent accomplishment].

Thank you,

[nonprofit’s name]

This letter is personalized to the donor and includes actionable next steps the donor can take to determine their matching gift eligibility. There’s also an educational element to this letter, which explains what matching gifts are and how they tie into corporate philanthropy.

Sample 2: A higher education institution’s matching gift letter.

Dear [donor’s name],

The students of [school’s name] are eternally grateful for your generous support. They cannot thank you enough for bringing [recent school renovation or improvement, like an improved library, new building, or renovated dorms] to life and providing a space for them to learn and grow.

Last year we raised [last year’s total matching gift revenue] all from matching gifts, or donations made by businesses to match those made by their employees. With very little extra effort, many of our donors were able to double their original contributions because their employers had matching gift programs in place.

In a few steps, you can check to see if your company will match your gift. Here’s what you can do:

Step 1: Contact your employer’s HR head to see if they offer a matching gift program to increase your donation.

Step 2: Your HR head will point you in the right direction and let you know if you need to fill out any necessary forms and be aware of submission deadlines.

Step 3: Once you have submitted your matching gift request form or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at our website [website URL] or phone number [phone number].

Additionally, if your company doesn’t offer a matching gift program or won’t match your donation, please let us know as well.

Your impact has already created a difference in the quality of life and the academic accomplishments our community has made recently. Imagine what can happen when your gifts are matched.

Thank you,

[school’s name]

This letter outlines the impact matching gifts have had on the institution and provides specific instructions the recipient can follow to submit a matching gift request. This letter in particular also highlights tangible results of the financial support already received (a new building, updated library, etc.).

Using a Matching Gift Database

While promoting matching gifts through all of the above channels can be effective, you can kick it up a notch or two by using a matching gift database.

A matching gift database is the key to finding tons of information on matching gift programs all over the world. They list thousands of companies, along with those companies’ matching gift guidelines, forms, and instructions. 

So how do you get access to a matching gift database?

This kind of info can be accessed in a couple of ways:

Matching Gift Search Tool

Invest in a matching gift solution that offers a matching gift search tool to embed anywhere on your website. That means on your donation page, your confirmation page, and your “Ways to Give” or dedicated matching gift pages.

Here’s an example of a matching gift search tool in action:

One matching gift best practice is incorporating a search tool as part of your website.

This search tool auto-completes the company name that’s being typed in, making it easy for the donor to select the name of their company and load the results.

Matching Gift Automation

Another awesome tool that can come in handy for larger organizations is a matching gifts automation platform. Once donors fill out the donation form on your website and submit their gift, this platform scans their info for any indication of matching gift eligibility (a work email address, employer details, etc.) and then triggers out customizable emails on your behalf.

Here’s what such an email would look like for someone who was determined to be match eligible:

Another matching gift best practice is to invest in a matching gifts automation platform.

This email explains to the donor that their donation is eligible for a matching gift from their employer. There are buttons the donor can then click to indicate their matching gift status.

Using a matching gifts automation platform saves your team time because each match-eligible donation will automatically go through the platform’s email stream and trigger the appropriate message. This leaves your organization more time to focus on high-value matching gift opportunities.

3. Other Matching Gift Best Practices

If you’re looking for more matching gift best practices beyond promotion, we’re going to conclude with a few last suggestions that can help your team bring in more revenue to fund your mission.

Demonstrate the Impact of Matching Gifts

One thing donors love is to know their donation is making an impact. And not just that—they want to know what their specific gift went toward.

In the case of matching gifts, share with your supporters how much money has been raised specifically from corporate matches. Explain how this doubled (or even tripled) your fundraising revenue and met your goals.

Then, go even further and explain what reaching your fundraising goals accomplished. For example, did the extra revenue help your organization feed 1,000 more people? Be specific!

You can share this in an annual report, on social media, on your website, and through other channels of communication.

Follow Up on Incomplete Matches

As we’ve mentioned before, keeping track of the status of donors and their matching gifts can help your team stay organized and maximize your revenue from this channel.

This means you should be following up on incomplete match requests—though this can be challenging to do manually.

Using an automation platform, you’ll be able to follow up with donors automatically, but not bombard them to the point where they get annoyed or disinterested.

Automation platforms incorporate sending limits, which helps your team limit the number of emails sent to donors within a given period of time. All you have to do is configure it in your settings. This applies to recurring donors, one-time donors, and even major gift donors. And once a donor indicates that they’ve submitted a matching gift request, they won’t be contacted again about that particular donation.

Following up gets much easier when you have an automated system in place. Don’t let your donors forget to submit a matching gift request if they’re eligible, but keep your communication to a reasonable level. 

Acknowledge Matching Gifts

Last, but certainly not least, thanking your donors at each stage of the process is essential. Of course, you’ll thank donors after they’ve made their initial donation, but you’ll also want to thank them:

  • After they’ve submitted a matching gift request.
  • After the company match has been received by your organization.

Keeping your donors in the loop shows that you value their support and want them to know their efforts made a difference. You should also keep in mind that the matching gift company might have a set preference for acknowledgement, as well. Most companies don’t need to be acknowledged and will say so—but if a company does want an acknowledgment, look for instructions from their outreach.

Incorporating these matching gift best practices and promotional strategies can help your organization raise the funds you need. Now that you have a basis to go off of, it’s time to get back to work!

Additional Matching Gift Resources

We hope these tips have given you some great ideas for your organization! If you’re looking for even more information about matching gifts, check out these additional resources:

Put more matching gift best practices into action with a matching gift database!