Corporate Matching Programs: Still Popular After All These Years

Corporate matching gift programs are an almost surefire way to make the most of charitably minded companies and their gift-giving employees. According to Giving in Numbers: 2019 Edition by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, nine out of 10 responding companies said they offered an employee matching gift program. The resulting donations accounted for nearly 11% of their total charitable giving. 

Most corporate matching gift programs are usually managed by HR departments, which provide employees with matching gift forms. Employee donors send these completed forms, along with their donations, to the charity of their choice. The forms generally provide step-by-step instructions for securing the matching funds from your donor’s employer — including deadlines, required support documents and where to send them.

Training employees

Dollar-for-dollar matching is common among participating corporations, but some companies may offer more, others less. Many companies match donations to any nonprofit, but some are more restrictive and won’t match donations to, for example, political or religious organizations or those that are potentially controversial.

It’s important to note that, although you may recognize the money that matching forms represent, your staff may not. Train all employees and volunteers who open donor mail on procedures for handling corporate matching gift forms. Otherwise, they may unwittingly throw away donations.

Pinpointing your targets

Aside from simply submitting the forms that your donors provide, you can take other simple steps to increase the amount of matching funds you receive. One often-successful approach is to draw up a list of employers in your area that offer matching funds. Typically, you can find this information in annual reports, on company websites or by calling companies’ HR, PR or community relations departments. If the company also operates a foundation, matching programs may run through that entity.

Once you have a comprehensive and accurate list, post it on your website’s donation page, and use it to reach out to existing donors you know work for those companies. Although it can be time-consuming, it’s important that you keep this information up to date.

Another strategy is to include a matching funds message in all of your solicitations. Letters might include a P.S. reminding potential donors to check with their HR departments to see if matching funds are available. Post a similar message on the donations area of your site or in your print newsletter.

This approach is more passive than compiling a list of companies, but it’s also less labor-intensive. You simply write a matching funds appeal once, such as: “Does your employer offer matching funds on employee donations? To potentially increase your impact, check with your HR department and include the matching gift form with your donation.” Then repeat that pithy message at every chance.

Doing it on your own

In response to the current economic downturn, some companies may be trimming or eliminating their matching gift programs. Don’t despair — corporate programs represent only one opportunity to raise more cash for your organization. Another is to create your own matching funds pool.

Approach your board and major supporters about providing matching donations related to a specific campaign goal. Countless parameters are possible. You may want to, for example, match all donations from new contributors in the month of December or match repeat donors who increase their donation amount by $10. 

The advantage to your organization is plain: You make the process of donating more attractive, which should, in turn, boost your intake. For their part, donors get to enjoy making a larger dollar impact than they’d have been able to manage on their own. Knowing it will be matched, they might even bump up the amount of their donation. This can be especially true if you have a minimum amount eligible for the match.

Double down

Gifts to your organization may seem more important now than ever. Doubling donations — or increasing them in any way — is a means for getting a lot of bang for your buck.

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