How Donor Engagement Boosts Matching Gift Fundraising

As a nonprofit fundraiser, you surely know that donor engagement is critical for every aspect of fundraising⁠—including cultivation, solicitation, stewardship, retention, and more. It’s no different when it comes to matching gift fundraising!

If you’re looking to improve your organization’s overall fundraising strategies, a focus on corporate matching gifts can go a long way for securing additional revenue, building business partnerships, and improving donor relations with eligible supporters.

To increase engagement among supporters through matching gifts, consider the following tried-and-true strategies for doing so:

  1. Providing ample information to demystify matching gifts
  2. Reminding donors to complete the match request process
  3. Communicating appreciation at every step

Ready to learn more about the importance of donor engagement when it comes to matching gift fundraising and how you can make the most of it? Let’s dive in.

1. Providing ample information to demystify matching gifts

Since the exact matching gift process differs based on a donor’s particular employer, it can be difficult to know where to start. When you provide supporters with relevant employer information, however, you can demystify the process and encourage them to take the next step.

We suggest that you provide eligible donors with the following common guidelines:

  • Gift minimums and maximums: A donor’s initial gift must be between their employer’s minimum and maximum donation amounts. Luckily, most minimums are around $25-50 while maximums can be more than $10,000, so the majority of your gifts will likely fall into this threshold.
  • Match ratios: The majority of employers with matching gift programs match at a 1:1 ratio (meaning they’ll give dollar for dollar). However, other companies might choose lower (such as .5:1) or higher (2:1 or even 3:1) rates.
  • Eligible employees: Typically, most full-time employees will be eligible for their employer’s matching gift program. Yet some companies choose to match gifts made by part-time employees, retirees, and even spouses as well!
  • Eligible nonprofits: Though most companies will match donations to most nonprofits, others place restrictions on the types of organizations they’ll give to. The most common are donations to purely religious entities, although many will still include religious fundraising groups with a charitable mission. On the other hand, some companies choose narrow categories of missions that they’ll match.
  • Match deadlines: For a donor to secure a match, it’s important to know how long following the initial giving date that donation will be eligible. Many companies match gifts until several months later (up until the following year!), while others have more limited time frames.
  • Request process: Once a donor determines that their gift is eligible for a match, how will they go about requesting it from their employer? Most companies today use online forms or CSR management platforms while some still require paper forms.

Make sure this information is readily available on your nonprofit website (typically through a searchable employer database embedded in your donation form, “ways to give” page, and more). Then, begin marketing matching gift opportunities through engagement channels such as email, direct mail, and social media.

2. Reminding donors to complete the match request process

Donors love matching gifts. After all, this type of corporate giving program allows them to effectively double their donation to a mission they care about without having to reach back into their own pockets to give more.

However, even individuals who have the best of intentions to request a matching gift from their employer can become distracted, frustrated, or otherwise fail to complete the submission process.

So how can you minimize the number of eligible donations that go unmatched? Incorporate gentle and encouraging follow-ups into your engagement strategy. We suggest sending matching gift submission prompts at the following stages:

  • Before making a donation: Incorporating a searchable database in your donation form is a great way for donors to explore matching gifts before clicking submit. Plus, according to our studies, if donors are aware that their gift will be matched by their employer beforehand, they’ll be more likely to give and to give in larger amounts.
  • Immediately following a donation: At this stage in the giving process, engagement levels are extremely high, and supporters typically feel good about the gift they’ve just made. Allow them to amplify that feeling by exploring matching gifts. To do so, include matching gift reminders in your confirmation screen and prompt follow-up messaging.
  • A few days after a donation is made: If a donor is likely eligible for a match but seemingly hasn’t taken that next step, consider sending a separate message a few days following the gift. This is also a great way to keep your mission at the top of the donor’s mind for longer.
  • During year-end appeals: Many employers allow match requests to be submitted through the end of the calendar year or up to twelve months following the initial donation. Be sure to inform donors to check their previous gift eligibility from earlier in the year as you begin sending your end-of-year fundraising appeals.

If you’re looking to streamline and simplify the outreach process even further, automating your match request reminders is a great way to go. This will free up significant time and effort for your staff, which can then be reallocated towards more personally pursuing your highest-value match opportunities. Plus, you won’t have to worry about donors slipping through the cracks!

3. Communicating appreciation at every step

You know that thanking your donors for their gifts is one of the most important parts of effective donor management. When you incorporate matching gifts into your fundraising strategy, this should impact your appreciation approach as well.

For example, consider sending quick thank-you messages at these key stages in the match process:

  • After the donor has indicated they submitted a request: For effective tracking purposes, you’ll likely want to include an option in your matching gift outreach that encourages donors to indicate their eligibility for a match and whether they’ve completed the request. This way, you’ll know the bonus gift is likely on its way! Be sure to thank the donor as soon as they request a match from their employer⁠—even before you see the second donation.
  • Once you receive the company match: Although the donor was not the one to make the additional donation themselves, it’s important to recognize that it wouldn’t have been possible without their help. As soon as you receive the matching gift, be sure to close the loop with the initial donor and thank them again for their support.

Effective appreciation strategies can increase donor retention and keep supporters coming back year after year. When you show how thankful you are that the donor has gone above and beyond to secure a corporate match for your nonprofit, they’ll be more likely to get their gifts matched each time they give.

Final Thoughts

More than $4 to $7 billion in matching gift revenue is left on the table by eligible donors each year. By placing a larger emphasis on strategic engagement throughout the matching gift process, more of these corporate dollars will end up toward nonprofit missions where they belong.

Find out what that means for you and be sure to follow the aforementioned best practices to begin securing maximal matching gift revenue for your organization. Good luck!

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

See the Virtuous platform in action.  Schedule a call with our team for personalized answers and expert advice on transforming your nonprofit with donor management software.

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