In today’s fundraising landscape, every dollar counts. And what’s better than the amount of funds your organization is currently receiving? If you could double that number! With the power of matching gifts and matching grants, that possibility can become your reality.
In this blog post, we’ll explore how each of these dynamic donation match strategies can supercharge your fundraising efforts and propel your organization to new heights.
Table of Contents:
- FAQs — How to Raise More With Matching Gifts for Your Cause
- What to Know About Doubling Your Funds with Matching Grants
- Top Tools to Propel Your Mission with Matching Gifts and Matching Grants
- 3 Donation Match Campaigns That Will Inspire Your Organization’s Efforts
FAQs — How to Raise More With Matching Gifts for Your Cause
In order to optimize your strategy for matching gifts, it helps to have a solid understanding of what these programs are, how they differ from matching grants, and how to identify the best opportunities.
What is a ‘Matching Gift?’
A matching gift—also known as a corporate or employee matching gift—refers to the charitable contribution a company makes as a result of a donation a team member contributes to a nonprofit organization or charity. In other words, when an employee gives to an eligible cause, their employer matches the donation with an equal (or sometimes greater!) amount of funds.
Matching gifts like these are a form of corporate philanthropy, with it being a common way for companies to give back while supporting the missions their employees value.
And the process looks like this:
- Step #1: Donation — An individual donates to a nonprofit (using its online donation form, peer-to-peer campaign site, text-to-give tool, direct mail, etc.).
- Step #2: Research — The individual researches their employer’s available giving programs and determines their eligibility to request a matching gift. (Hint: Use a matching gift database to simplify this step for your team and your donors alike!)
- Step #3: Submission — The individual submits a matching gift request to their employer, typically using the company’s online submission portal.
- Step #4: Review — The individual’s employer reviews the request and verifies the initial gift adheres to the company’s program criteria.
- Step #5: Disbursement — The company approves and fulfills the matching gift request by contributing a matching donation to the organization.
The end result is two gifts for the cost of soliciting one!
Who offers matching gifts?
Matching gift programs are offered by tens of thousands of companies that employ 26+ million individuals—with more employers kicking off new giving programs every day.
The trick to accessing such funds, however, is identifying which portion of your donor base works for companies that match. Then, encourage those individuals to complete the matching gift request process on your behalf.
Take a look at a few companies that match employee gifts, and make a note of any supporters that work for these well-known employers:
- Home Depot
- YUM Brands
- State Farm Insurance
- Bank of America
- State Street Corporation
- General Electric
- Penguin Random House
- And many more—including over 65% of the Fortune 500!
Plus, aside from traditional corporate entities and enterprise institutions, employers of all kinds (including startups, small businesses, and even other nonprofit organizations) can provide donation matches to incentivize generosity among their staff.
As you explore these opportunities, keep in mind that each matching gift company establishes unique criteria that define matching gift eligibility. These typically include minimum and maximum donation limits, qualifying employees and nonprofits, and submission deadlines.
The value of the matching gift can also vary from one employer to another! While some companies might match a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, others, like Soros Fund Management, offer matching gift thresholds of up to $100,000 per employee each year.
What are the benefits of matching gifts?
Employee matching gifts effectively double the value of individual donors’ personal contributions. This allows the organization to collect additional funding and utilize available streams of corporate philanthropy revenue. It’s also one of the most widely accessible ways to get involved with corporate giving, as there are significantly more opportunities for matching gifts compared to the limited number of matching grants.
Not to mention, the presence of a match can be just what you need to inspire individual generosity, too! According to nonprofit fundraising research, 1 in 3 donors would contribute a larger gift if they knew it would be matched. Meanwhile, 84% indicate that they’d be more likely to donate in the first place if a matching gift were available.
The result? Simply mentioning matching gift opportunities in a fundraising appeal produces a more than 71% increase in donation response rate and a 51% increase in average gift size.
Not to mention, a dedicated matching gift strategy also provides your team with additional opportunities to engage your donor base without asking for another financial contribution.
What are the drawbacks of matching gifts?
When it comes to corporate matching gifts, the primary drawback centers on a lack of program awareness among donors. Research shows that more than 78% of individuals have no idea whether their employers offer matching gift programs—nor how they would participate in such a program if so. When they’re not aware of the opportunity in the first place, supporters are unable to take the action required to complete the matching gift process.
As a result, matching gift requests go unsubmitted, ultimately leaving available corporate match revenue on the table.
Luckily, proactive communication and matching gift promotion go a long way toward bridging the gaps in knowledge and funds secured.
How do you set up this type of fundraiser?
From a nonprofit’s perspective, setting up a matching gift fundraising campaign is fairly simple. Tons of companies have already established their donation-matching initiatives, so all your organization has to do is craft a strategy to make the most of existing opportunities.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is implement a mechanism for collecting employment data, ideally from within the donation page itself. From there, you’ll have the information you need to screen donors for matching gift eligibility and provide qualifying supporters with company-specific guidelines and request forms.
Then, initiate follow-up communications with prospective matching gift donors—including personalized emails, social media posts, text messages, direct mailings, and more. By actively engaging donors, simplifying instructions, and guiding them through the matching gift experience, your organization can significantly increase the impact of its fundraising efforts through corporate-funded employee matches.
What to Know About Doubling Your Funds with Matching Grants
The next type of donation match opportunity is called a matching grant. Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about this funding source so that your team can feel prepared to make the most of it.
What is a ‘Matching Grant?’
A matching grant is a type of funding arrangement in which a donor—typically a corporation, foundation, major contributor, government entity, or other organization—agrees to match all donations to a nonprofit cause. A common stipulation, however, is that the organization must raise the same amount of funds itself, up to a set threshold or percentage.
Let’s take a look at the matching grants process, which typically works like this:
- Step #1: Agreement — The nonprofit and grantmaker work out the terms of the match, including the deadline and match ratio.
- Step #2: Fundraising — The nonprofit launches a campaign or initiative with the goal of raising funds for matching.
- Step #3: Verification — The nonprofit documents each contribution received based on the grantor’s requirements.
- Step #4: Submission — Once the deadline occurs, the nonprofit submits documentation to the grantor.
- Step #5: Funds disbursement — The grantmaker reviews the documentation and disburses the matching funds to the nonprofit.
- Step #6: Reporting — The grantor might require the nonprofit to report back with updates.
In other words, the matching grant provider ultimately gifts an additional dollar (or a larger amount) for every dollar donated to the nonprofit, thus doubling the impact of the initial contribution.
Here’s an example: If your organization needs $30,000 toward a new piece of equipment, you might have difficulty finding a single foundation or institution to foot the entire bill. However, if you can raise half of the money, you might have better luck locating a major donor who would supply the rest.
In order to provide your portion of the fund, your team launches an online giving campaign and asks supporters to contribute to access the match. Once your $15,000 is raised, a corporate partner puts up the additional $15,000.
Who offers matching grants?
Matching grants can be supplied by a wide range of entities. These include:
- Companies (e.g., local businesses and corporations)
- Foundations (private, community, corporate, and more)
- Government agencies (federal, state, and/or local)
- Other nonprofits (community organizations, houses of worship, etc.)
- Board members
- Individual major contributors (existing and prospective donors alike)
This fundraising concept has been employed across various platforms for years. Radio or telethons, for example, frequently feature corporate partners that pledge to match all donations within a designated timeframe. During the event, individuals call in to pledge their contributions, and at the culmination of the allotted period, the sponsoring corporation matches all donations raised, doubling the fundraising total.
What are the benefits of matching grants?
Fundraising can be tough, especially when vying for donors’ attention in an oversaturated digital landscape. Thus, organizations have to get creative in order to secure the funds required for mission programming and operational upkeep alike.
Not only do matching grants provide your team with additional funds in the form of a generous allotment, but they inspire additional giving from individual donors, too! And given that matching grants are provided after collective donations meet the specified threshold, all supporters are encouraged to play a role in achieving the match.
Essentially, matching grants provide an excellent opportunity to engage supporters in impactful fundraising, instill a sense of urgency to drive immediate action, and ultimately receive a lump sum from a generous donor.
How do you set up this type of fundraiser?
Matching grants can be used to support a wide range of initiatives, including capital campaigns, endowment funds, program expansions, and other special projects. Plus, they pair well with events, annual fund drives, Giving Days, and more.
If you’re interested in this type of fundraising for your organization, it’s fairly simple to set up. And you can start by compiling a list of corporations, major donors, foundations, and other organizations with which you’ve previously partnered. Or, if you lack promising candidates from within your existing network, consider expanding your search to encompass other possible grantmaking institutions. Then, pitch the opportunity to various partners until you secure a pledged grant.
Once you have a match on board, begin contacting donors to support your campaign, and let them know about the available match!
What are the drawbacks of matching grants?
While matching grant programs offer numerous benefits for the organizations that receive them, there are some potential drawbacks to be aware of as you consider the opportunity. For one thing, matching grants are dependent on the availability of a willing grant provider. If your organization lacks an extensive network of potential funders, you may find difficulty in locating an institution to fund a match.
Additionally, matching grant campaigns rely on donor participation to unlock the promised match. If donors are not eager to participate for any reason, your team may, unfortunately, be unable to access the supplemental funds prior to the campaign deadline.
Top Tools to Propel Your Mission with Matching Gifts and Matching Grants
Regardless of the type (or combination) of match initiative you seek, there are a number of resources available to help. We’ve selected a few to cover here:
Matching Grant Resources
Candid’s Foundation Directory provides access to useful financial data, mission statements, and program details. This empowers organizations to learn more about potential grantmaking institutions, along with their funding priorities and grant programs.
To access the directory, the Essentials plan starts at $36 a month. Get more information here!
GrantStation offers an extensive and searchable database of grant opportunities, grantmaker profiles, and more to identify potential match funders. Plus, it provides tools and resources to help guide organizations through the competitive application process.
To access the GrantStation database, membership begins at $219 a quarter. However, the site offers numerous free guides and other materials, too, while some tools can be purchased à la carte. Get more information here!
Grants.gov is a government-hosted website that provides a centralized location for nonprofits to locate, research, and apply for federal grants. Fundraising staff can search for federal agency grants by keyword, category, or organization type, then learn about the grant opportunity and application process.
Grants.gov is free for anyone to use. Get more information and access the database here!
Matching Gift Resources
Double the Donation is the leading provider of matching gift software. Their tools enable organizations to effectively collect and utilize employment data, promote matching gifts across their websites and donation forms, supply supporters with actionable information following the giving experience, and track matching gift submissions to the finish line.
The matching gift automation platform 360MatchPro offers seamless integrations with most top fundraising platforms, too, which makes it quick and easy to get set up. From there, you can identify matching gift opportunities and automate associated outreach to donors. And when individuals work for companies that enable Double the Donation’s innovative auto-submission, donors can even complete the request process directly from your organization’s giving page.
Plus, the matching gift software provider is also well-known for supplying organizations with a wide range of other helpful tools and resources. These include sample matching gift letters, customizable graphic design templates, branded promotional videos, educational guides, and even an immersive online academy.
Key takeaway: Equipping your team with the right tools and resources is essential. By leveraging matching gift automation software, along with various grant research and database tools, your team can identify and pursue potential funding streams with renewed vigor.
3 Donation Match Campaigns That Will Inspire Your Organization’s Efforts
Sometimes, the best way to refresh your nonprofit’s own match fundraising strategies is to take a look at the efforts enacted by other organizations. That’s true for both matching gifts and matching grants.
And it’s why we’ve selected three real-world campaigns that serve as shining examples of how teams like yours can leverage matching gift opportunities. Read on to see how these initiatives empowered fundraisers to drive engagement, boost donations, and make a greater difference in their communities.
Sparta Education Foundation’s Matching Grant Fundraising
The Sparta Education Foundation employs a multifaceted approach to matching grant fundraising strategies. And these efforts have proven highly effective in bolstering support for educational initiatives within the community!
Here’s an example of one matching grant campaign the organization hosted to raise additional funding for educational needs.
Social media post promoting the donation match opportunity:
And a page on the organization’s website with additional information:
By leveraging a matching grant, the foundation effectively doubles the impact of individual donations, thereby incentivizing greater participation and generosity within the organization’s support network.
WNIN’s Matching Gift Fundraising
WNIN, a public media organization, has developed innovative fundraising strategies to engage its audience and amplify the impact of donations through employer matching gifts.
In order to encourage matching gift participation by eligible donors, the organization enlists targeted outreach and communication efforts. This includes social media posts, emails, mailings, and more—along with a dedicated matching gifts page on the organization’s website.
This matching gift example demonstrates the value of providing donors with the information they need to multiply their giving efforts.
Social media post promoting the donation match opportunity:
And a page on the organization’s website with additional information, including a matching gift search tool to streamline program research:
Overall, WNIN’s matching gift fundraising reflects a multi-channel approach to engaging its audience and encouraging supporters to double their donations. This allows the group to maximize the impact of individual contributions and cultivate a culture of philanthropy within its community.
And it aims to make the matching gift experience as simple and impactful for donors as possible!
Feeding San Diego’s Matching Grant and Matching Gift Fundraising
The San Diego-based food bank Feeding San Diego employs a dynamic combination of matching grant and matching gift fundraising strategies to fuel its mission of fighting hunger in the community.
At the core of its approach is securing matching grants from foundations, corporations, and other major donors. These grants serve as catalysts for giving, inspiring supporters to donate generously—and urgently—to unlock the matching grant funding.
In addition to matching grants, Feeding San Diego actively encourages donors to participate in giving programs offered by their employers. Through targeted communications, the organization informs eligible donors about the opportunity to multiply their contributions again through employer matching programs. This allows the nonprofit to ultimately maximize the value of individual gifts and tap into new streams of philanthropy.
Take a look at the social media post promoting the matching grant opportunity made available by a generous corporate partner:
And a donation form sharing information about how to secure a matching gift through the individual’s workplace. Plus, it collects employment data for future use:
This matching gift campaign goes to show that multiple types of donation matches do not have to be mutually exclusive. Let’s say a donor contributes $100, which is then doubled by the organization’s matching grant. When the individual also requests a match from their employer, the value of the initial gift is tripled! That’s better than a single match and can go a long way toward amplifying the nonprofit’s mission impact.
Both matching gifts and matching grants serve as invaluable tools for multiplying fundraising impact. However, understanding each program’s unique characteristics allows you to leverage it most strategically.
Matching gifts involve individual contributors securing matches from their employers after they themselves give. Conversely, matching grants are pledged by grantmakers before and fulfilled after an organization reaches a predetermined fundraising target. And both types can provide a significant boost to a nonprofit’s revenue generation efforts.
If you’re ready to unlock the full potential of multifaceted donation matching, the key lies in strategic communication. Not to mention, inspiring action around the opportunity. Effective promotions don’t have to be difficult, either—especially when powered with innovative technology to automate the process.
Time to get matching!
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