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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Corporate Matching Gifts: Get Started as a Small Nonprofit

As a small nonprofit organization, you’re already doing good work to help your surrounding community. But sometimes the financial resources you need for continued success aren’t readily available.

Raising the funds you need to continue your programs, cover overhead costs, and serve your constituents and mission isn’t always easy. But there’s one source of revenue that you might not have already tapped into: corporate matching gifts.

Even as a small nonprofit, corporate matching gifts are invaluable. That’s why we’re going to cover the basics of matching gifts and key ways you can start tapping into this revenue channel.

More specifically, we’ll discuss:

  1. What are corporate matching gifts?
  2. How can small nonprofits get started with matching gifts?
  3. What’s an example of a successful nonprofit using matching gifts?

Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll be in a better position to leverage matching gifts as part of your fundraising strategy. Let’s get started. 

1. What are corporate matching gifts?

According to Double the Donation’s guide to matching gifts, corporate matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program in which companies financially match donations their employees make to nonprofits.

The general process looks like this:

  1. An individual makes a donation to a nonprofit.
  2. The individual checks their eligibility for a matching gift through their company.
  3. The individual submits a matching gift request to their company.
  4. The company reviews their request and verifies the donation with the nonprofit.
  5. The company matches the donation.

Individual companies also have varying guidelines when it comes to eligibility and match amounts. For example, they might specify:

  • Match ratios: The amount at which a donation is matched. This is usually 1:1 (a dollar for a dollar), but could be anywhere from .5:1 to 4:1.
  • Minimum/maximum match amounts: Most companies have a minimum match amount around $25-$50, if there’s a minimum at all. The maximum amount is usually in the thousands.
  • Employee eligibility: Eligible employees for matching gifts could include full-time employees, part-time employees, and even retirees.
  • Nonprofit eligibility: Most companies match donations to a majority of nonprofits, such as educational institutions, arts and cultural organizations, and environmental organizations. However, some companies narrow their specifications to exclude certain organization types (religious organizations, for example).

Once your nonprofit understands the specific guidelines around matching gift programs, you’ll be ready to start actively pursuing money from this channel.

What are the benefits of corporate matching gifts?

Matching gifts are one of the easiest ways for people to support an organization. And while pursuing this channel has an obvious benefit for nonprofits, nonprofits aren’t the only group that benefits:

  • For companies, they can show their communities that they care about giving back. This strengthens their public image and encourages more employees to work with them and consumers to purchase from them.

  • For donors, they can feel pride in knowing that their gift will go twice as far. Knowing their gift could be doubled may also encourage them to give a larger amount, or give at all. 

  • For nonprofits, matching gifts can essentially double a donation without too much added effort from their team. Matching gifts also come in handy for tasks like prospect research. If your nonprofit is looking to identify major donors for a campaign, for example, a major gift paired with a matching donation would have a huge impact.

At this point, you’re probably wondering exactly how you can tap into these benefits and start bringing in more matching gift revenue. Read on to find out!

2. How can small nonprofits get started with matching gifts?

According to these statistics, an estimated $4-$7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed per year. That means there’s a major awareness issue when it comes to corporate matching gifts. 

This lack of awareness applies to both nonprofits and donors.

A lot of the time, nonprofits don’t have the time, resources, or staff necessary to actively pursue matching gift revenue. And donors aren’t even aware that their employers offer matching gift programs.

As a small nonprofit, there are steps you can take to ensure matching gifts become part of your fundraising strategy. Below, we’ve outlined some of the top methods to consider:

Educate Your Staff

Educating your staff about matching gifts from the start will allow them to answer any questions from donors and actively bring matching gifts into the conversation. This means researching the top matching gift programs, mentioning matching gifts in onboarding materials as you train new staff, and regularly showing the value matching gifts can have.

Educate Your Donors

Getting your staff onboard with matching gifts is only half the battle. To make the most of this giving program, you also need to educate your donors. 

You probably already have an outreach method in place for thanking donors for their contributions via email or direct mail. Why not include matching gift information in that outreach?

Insert a few lines as part of your email template that say something like:

Did you know that many companies match their employees’ donations to our organization? Contact your employer’s HR department to see if they offer a matching gift program. Once you have submitted your matching gift request, or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at our website or phone number.

This insert accomplishes a few things: 1) It alerts the donor that their gift may be eligible for a matching donation. 2) It offers actionable steps the donor can take to complete a match request. 3) It offers an opportunity for the donor to ask the nonprofit any questions they might have and keep them updated.

With an educated staff and educated donors, you’ll be more likely to bring in additional matching gift revenue.

Promote Matching Gifts in Other Ways

There are other effective ways to promote matching gifts as a small nonprofit, as well. According to Getting Attention’s guide to matching gift best practices, it’s important to think about all of your outlets and communication channels.

For example, consider:

  • Social media. The great thing about social media is that your nonprofit can schedule posts throughout the year. Be sure to schedule occasional matching gift-related posts to encourage donors to give or take part in your campaigns. Knowing their donation can go twice as far will encourage many to participate.
  • Newsletters. If your nonprofit sends out a regular newsletter, consider adding a section on matching gifts, or even devoting one or two newsletters per year to the topic. The more information you provide about matching gifts on a regular basis, the more awareness you’ll raise.
  • Matching gift databases. A matching gift database houses information on thousands of companies and their matching gift programs. Nonprofits can embed a search tool on their donation pages (or anywhere on their website) so donors can easily find their employer’s matching gift information. This not only speeds up the process, but ensures more donors will learn about their company’s matching gift program.

There are many ways to incorporate matching gifts into your fundraising strategy. Even if you’re just starting out as a nonprofit or steadily growing, using the platforms you already have to educate your supporters about matching gifts will both encourage them to get involved and help them make a bigger impact with their gift.

3. What’s an example of a successful nonprofit using matching gifts?

If you’re looking for an example of how small to mid-size nonprofits have successfully implemented corporate matching gifts, take a look at one organization that’s dedicated to making it easier for cancer patients to access the care they need:

This nonprofit, located in the western region of the U.S., has increased its matching gift revenue by 200%, and much of this is because they have done the following:

  • Feature matching gifts on a dedicated matching gifts page on their website.
  • Promote matching gifts during the donation process.
  • Send out thank-you messages that encourage donors to visit their matching gifts page.
  • Use social media to educate donors about matching gift opportunities.
  • Insert a matching gift search tool on their “Ways to Give” page.

By diversifying their outreach efforts and covering more bases in their matching gift promotion, this nonprofit has made it easier for donors to learn more about matching gifts.

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Don’t let the size of your organization stand in the way of pursuing matching gift revenue. There are many ways you can leverage matching gifts as part of your fundraising strategy, and we hope these tips help you get started. Good luck!


Written by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email or on LinkedIn.

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