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Matching Gift Essentials for Fundraising

Written by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation

Would you prefer one scoop of ice cream or two? How would you like it if your favorite sports team won back-to-back titles? Imagine how much you could accomplish with an exact clone of yourself. Matching gifts are double the donation bliss, and there is no easier way to increase donations to your nonprofit.

What is a Matching Gift?

Matching gifts are charitable corporate donations that match employee gifts to eligible nonprofits. Most companies match $1:$1, but some match as high as two, three, or even four to one. Thousands of companies worldwide and 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, so there is a plethora of easy money out there for your organization’s taking.

Matching gifts are submitted through company-specific online portals or via paper forms. Human Resources departments typically handle these programs.

To see matching gifts in action, imagine Tanya, who works for Boeing. She donates $3,000 to her local museum and applies for a matching gift. Boeing processes her request and writes the museum an additional check for $3,000, because Boeing matches 1:1. This doubles the impact of Tanya’s donation to $6,000 at no additional cost to her. The $3,000 check that Boeing writes is the matching gift.

Matching Gift Benefits

Billions of dollars go unclaimed because employees fail to take full advantage of corporate giving programs. Often, this occurs because donors are not aware that their employer offers matching gifts. I don’t know a nonprofit that wouldn’t benefit from easy, extra dollars.

Matching gifts can double some monetary donations to nonprofits. Not only does this provide nonprofits with additional funds to further their missions, but it allows donors to provide more to causes they care about without giving more of their own money. Plus matching gift generate higher response rates to solicitations and result in donors giving larger gifts.

Companies love matching gifts because they both increase employee engagement with the company and boost goodwill by supporting the causes that employees care about. They also allow businesses to give charitably to a variety of nonprofits and also operate as a bridge between corporations and nonprofits, fostering beneficial partnerships.

How to Market Matching Gifts

Increasing awareness for corporate giving should be a priority, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some basic best practices for informing donors that their donations can go twice as far:

  • Incorporate matching gifts into your donation process (Did you know DonorPerfect and Double the Donation offer an easy integration option?)
  • Include a blurb about matching gifts in your next newsletter.
  • Insert a link to a dedicated matching gift page in your website’s navigation bar.
  • Mention matching gifts in your email signature.
  • Remind donors of matching gifts through social media.

You don’t have to spend a great deal of time or money to increase awareness, but the benefits can be significant. For instance, if just one $2,500 donation gets doubled then the benefits are clear.

Important Matching Gift Information

Matching gift programs vary by company, but certain terms are constant. Information you want to be aware of when talking to donors about matching gifts include:

  • Minimum Matched – The general minimum donation to be eligible for a matching gift is either $25 or $50.
  • Maximum Matched – Eligible donations typically top out at $1,000-$15,000 but can go as high as $50,000-$100,000.
  • Matching Ratio – Most companies match 1:1, but other match ratios include 2:1, 3:1, and even 4:1. Some companies have varying match ratios depending on the donor’s employment status or relationship with the company.
  • Who Can Apply? – Full-time employees can almost always apply, and it varies by company whether part-time employees, board members, spouses, and retirees are eligible.
  • What Nonprofits are Eligible? – Companies establish their own guidelines but most companies will donate to educational institutions, such as K-12 schools and higher education institutions, and many match to all 501(c)(3) organizations, which include:

    • Healthcare organizations
    • Arts and culture organizations
    • Environmental nonprofits
    • Community based social services
    • And many others

Typical donation exemptions include:

  • Political organizations
  • Sports teams
  • Religious institutions, such as churches and synagogues, which aren’t providing services to the greater community (ex. Food banks, homeless shelters, etc. are often eligible)

To gain a better idea of how matching gift programs work, below are highlights from a few companies with top corporate giving programs: along with the types of information you should look for:

General Electric:

Did you know that General Electric created the world’s first matching gift program? It’s true and now GE is one of the largest providers of employee matching gifts. GE matches gifts of as little as $25 and as large as $50,000 at a 1:1 ratio to most nonprofits. GE matches donations from employees and retirees (including surviving spouses of eligible GE retirees) to most US and UK based nonprofits.

British Petroleum:

BP has a wide range of employee giving programs including a matching gift program, volunteer grant program, and a unique program called Fabric of America.

Through Fabric of America, employees can request that BP America make a contribution to a nonprofit organization of the employee’s choice. The donation will be made on the employee’s behalf and does not require a contribution from the employee.

Additionally BP matches personal contributions to most educational organizations and 501(c)(3) organizations of between $25 and $5,000 at a 1:1 ratio.

Johnson & Johnson:

J&J has a very generous matching gift program where the company matches gifts of between $25 and $10,000 at a 2:1 ratio for employees (max $20,000 company contribution) and a 1:1 ratio for retirees (max $10,000 annual company contribution). J&J matches donations to a wide range of nonprofits including:

  • Higher educational institutions (K-12 excluded)
  • Health and human services
  • Arts and cultural organizations
  • Civic and community organizations
  • Environmental organizations
  • And select other nonprofits

Boeing:

Did you know that in the last year Boeing matched donations from full-time and part-time employees to over 6,000 different nonprofit organizations? It’s true and in 2015 Boeing announced they’re expanding nonprofit matching gift eligibility to include nearly all nonprofits in the US and a select number of international organizations.

Boeing matches employee donations of as little as $25 and as big as $6,000 at a 1:1 ratio. The company also matches donations from retirees at a 50% rate (max $3,000 company contribution per retiree).

Microsoft:

With generous limits and about 65% of Microsoft’s employees participating in the company’s giving campaign it is no surprise the company’s employees donated more than $113 million (including company match) to 19,000 nonprofits in the last year.

Microsoft matches gifts between $25 and $15,000 at a 1:1 ratio to a wide range of nonprofits including:

  • Educational institutions (k-12 included)
  • Environmental organizations
  • Health and human services organizations
  • Arts / cultural organizations
  • Civic and community groups

Microsoft also offers a Dollars for Doers program where the company provides grants of $17 per every hour an employee volunteers with an organization. Plus new hires are welcomed with a $50 Microsoft donation they can direct to a qualifying nonprofit.

You can view more top matching gift companies here >

Submission Deadlines

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Most corporate giving programs have deadlines for submitting matching gift requests. The most common dates are:

  • End of the Calendar Year – When the page turns to January, a donation loses matching gift eligibility.
  • A Certain Number of Months After the Date of the Donation – Anything between three and twelve months is normal.
  • End of January or February in the Year After the Donation was Made – Verizon, The Home Depot, Caterpillar, and many others offer such deadlines.

It takes about five minutes for donors to fill out and submit matching gift forms which makes it an easy way for donors to give more to the causes they care about and for nonprofits to raise additional funds.

Make sure you’re promoting matching gifts across your nonprofit’s fundraising.

Learn more about Double the Donation’s integration with DonorPerfect.

Adam Weinger
Adam Weinger, President Double the Donation

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of employee matching gift and volunteer grant tools and services to nonprofits. You can connect with Adam via LinkedIn if you have any questions about Double the Donation or matching gifts in general.

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