Annual giving is a hot topic for nonprofit fundraising, and organizations like yours are always looking for new and improved ways to bring their efforts to the next level. And that’s why matching gifts and annual giving campaigns go hand in hand.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything your nonprofit needs to know, including:
- The Basics of Annual Giving—And Why it Matters
- What You Need to Know About Matching Gifts
- How Matching Gifts Fit in Your Annual Giving Campaign
- Tips For Doubling Annual Giving Donations
Ready to dive in with matching gifts and annual giving and find out how to elevate both strategies simultaneously? Let’s begin.
The Basics of Annual Giving—And Why it Matters
According to Double the Donation’s guide on the topic,
“An annual fund is the catch-all term for general nonprofit fundraising. It encompasses all fundraising efforts including online solicitation, direct mail asks, email appeals, and more.”
Many organizations rely heavily on their annual fund campaign to bankroll their general operations and everyday expenses. After all, these are unrestricted funds that can help them keep the lights on and the doors open, enabling them to serve their causes as effectively as possible.
What You Need to Know About Matching Gifts
Matching gifts are one of the most popular forms of corporate philanthropy and, more specifically, workplace giving.
Essentially what occurs is that an individual donor contributes a personal donation to a nonprofit organization of their choice. From there, they decide to get their donation matched (assuming their employer offers such a program—which many do) and submit a corporate matching gift request.
Their employing company then reviews the submission and ensures the original donation meets previously provided matching criteria (including minimum and maximum donation amounts, types of nonprofits and employees, and participation deadlines). Finally, the company approves the request and sends in its own donation to the same nonprofit its employee originally supported.
How Matching Gifts Fit in Your Annual Giving Campaign
Now that you have a basic foundation of knowledge for both matching gifts and annual giving, you might be asking how exactly the two concepts fit together. And the simple answer is that they do so seamlessly!
In fact, corporate donation matching is often paired with annual giving in order to help make donated dollars go further toward the cause. This allows organizations following this strategy to:
- Ensure their annual giving campaign is as impactful as possible.
- Reach (and often surpass) their fundraising goals faster and more effectively.
- Better engage with donors of all levels of giving potential.
In the end, the nonprofit will see powerful results in terms of campaign participation, (unrestricted) dollar amounts contributed, and more. In fact, according to our previously compiled corporate philanthropy statistics, over 84% of survey participants say they’re more likely to donate if a corporate match is offered, and 1 in 3 donors would make a larger gift if matching is applied.
Tips For Doubling Annual Giving Donations
So let’s get down to it! How can your fundraising team utilize matching gifts alongside your annual fundraising strategy to maximize results?
Here are six tried-and-true best practices to incorporate into your plan.
1. Incorporate matching gifts in your fundraising strategy year-round.
It’s called annual fund fundraising for a reason. You have all twelve months to collect the funding you need to set your organization up for success come the following year.
Thus, it’s crucial that you incorporate matching gifts into your strategy from the start of January to the end of December, rather than reserve the initiative for any one period or season. Then, rinse and repeat for the next year!
Hint: Though matching gifts are available at any time, matching gift fundraising experts recommend upping your promotional efforts at the start and end of the year to leverage giving momentum. This can also help drive more potential matches to completion that may otherwise have been forgotten about.
2. Host matching gifts and annual giving in conjunction with one another.
You might be tempted to host a dedicated matching gift campaign following a separate annual giving push. However, it’s typically better to integrate the ideas rather than focus on one after the other.
And there are a few reasons for this! For one, when matching gifts and annual giving go hand in hand, it makes it easier to leverage the momentum from the donation experience and translate it into a matching gift request. This means more eligible donors will end up following through and securing a match request on your organization’s behalf.
Not to mention, promoting matching gifts alongside your annual giving can help ensure donors are able to meet their employers’ submission deadlines. Each company that agrees to match employee donations also has the ability to set a deadline by which matches must be requested.
Though this varies from company to company, typical methods include dictating a set number of months (such as three, six, or twelve) from the date of the original donation or falling in line with the end of the calendar year. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why it’s recommended to highlight matching gift opportunities as soon as possible.
3. Educate donors about the power and availability of matching gifts.
Unfortunately, tons of people that are eligible for matching gifts—those who work for companies with matching gift programs—have no idea that they are. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to incorporate matching gifts in your annual giving campaign is by making sure your donors are aware of the opportunity, to begin with!
Some of the best things you can do are include information about matching gifts on your organization’s website and on any annual giving campaign pages you create, promote matching gifts on social media, through email, and with other digital communication avenues, and within your donation follow-ups.
4. Get your annual giving team on board with matching gift training.
Promoting matching gifts externally is a must. But you also don’t want to overlook the importance of getting your internal fundraising team—and specifically those working closely with your annual giving campaign—on board with the strategy.
Therefore, we strongly recommend conducting some basic matching gift training for these individuals (or, ideally, your entire workforce). This overview should include the basics of corporate matching gift programs, how fundraisers and donors can each determine matching gift eligibility, and answers to commonly asked questions surrounding matching gifts. And, if you choose to leverage matching gift software, ensuring your team knows how to use it is essential as well.
5. Simply the process required of donors to get their annual gifts matched.
When it comes to increasing annual giving, it’s important to make the actual giving experience as quick and as easy as possible. This helps keep conversion rates up while avoiding high levels of donation abandonment.
Similar concepts can be applied to donation matching. Many donors will be happy to participate—especially because it comes at no additional cost to them. However, if they are having a difficult time figuring out how to request their match, they’re more likely to give up on the process altogether.
That’s why it’s so important that you streamline the matching gift process as much as possible, particularly by investing in the right tools. For example, a matching gift database can provide donors with information about their employers’ matching programs in seconds—including direct links to the right matching gift request form.
6. Prioritize donor appreciation and retention—for gifts and matches.
One of the top benefits of annual giving campaigns for nonprofits is that donors who contribute one year are often willing to participate the next as well. Matching gifts are often the same way!
Typically, companies set annual limits on the amount of matching funds an individual is able to request. Every year, that number gets reset, allowing donors to secure additional revenue for your organization. Thus, donor retention is a critical component of both matching gifts and annual giving campaign strategies. And appreciating those who support your efforts is one of the best things you can do.
For the best results and the most donors coming back time and time again, it’s important to communicate your gratitude. It’s recommended that you thank your donors at three key points in the process:
- After their initial donation is submitted
- After they request their matching donation from their employer
- After the employer’s match is processed and disbursed
Thanking donors for participating in their matching gift programs is an excellent way to reiterate the impact of their matches on your organization. As a result, they’ll be more likely to participate when the time comes again.
It’s time to get fundraising—and get gift-matching!
Make sure your nonprofit team is equipped with the right tools and resources in order to optimize your annual giving campaign and the matching gift drive hosted alongside it. You’ll see an increase in both the number of donations contributed and the size of those gifts, which allows your organization to be better prepared for the following year’s operations.
At the same time, donors get to see their dollars doing more for a cause they care about and make a larger impact on your fundraising goals.
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