As we approach the end of 2017, it’s time to look forward to ways to increase donations in 2018.
It can feel like you’ve exhausted every fundraising avenue already like your donors have given all they can give. But what if that weren’t the case? What if you could significantly increase your donations with no extra money actually coming from your donors themselves?
That’s the magic of matching gift programs, which enable companies to donate the same amount of money as their employees to eligible organizations.
Last year marked the beginning of a significant uptick in employees as philanthropists, and the trend hasn’t slowed down through 2017. Take advantage of that momentum in 2018 with matching gifts!
With these 7 simple steps, you can seriously increase your donations in the new year:
1. Take cues from your donor database.
If you’re keeping good records about your donors in your donor management software, you’ll know where your donors work. That information might not seem that important, but you’ll be happy you collected it when it comes time to market matching gifts.
Make it a point in the new year to proactively reach out to your donors who are employed by companies that offer matching gift programs.
You could find out who works at a company with an established matching gift program by:
- Investigating the company’s website.
- Emailing or calling a giving officer or HR professional at the company.
Once you discover that your donor is employed by a matching gift company, reach out to them directly to make sure they know about their employer’s program. There’s nothing like the personal touch. By contacting donor within a company instead of trying to grab the attention of busy executives who don’t have a connection with you, you have a better chance of being heard.
Your donor database can also lead you in interesting directions if some of your donors own or hold high leadership positions within companies.
You could reach out to these individuals with high clout and encourage them to set up an employee matching gift program within their company. They might not know about these programs or where to begin, and your offer to help could be the nudge they need to establish one!
2. Research local companies with matching gift programs.
Remember that companies want to be associated with charitable causes. It makes them look good, and they get to do good!
By finding companies who have set up matching gift programs, you find the companies that are actively interested in charitable giving. Even employees within these companies who haven’t donated to your nonprofit in the past might be inclined to do so if you reach out to them directly.
You can check your donor information against Fundly’s list of 90+ companies that give to charity to see if any of these companies employ your donors. Some of the biggest matching gift corporations that might have some employees near you are:
- The Home Depot: Both full- and part-time employees are eligible to participate in matching gift programs, and the company will match donations to a wide range of nonprofits.
- Starbucks: Any full-time, part-time, or retired Starbucks employee in the United States or Canada can have their gifts matched. They can also apply for volunteer grants for up to $1,000 for 100 hours of volunteering!
- Verizon: Verizon employees working full-time or part-time, as well as retired employees, can submit a request for matching gifts to most schools and nonprofit organizations.
Don’t be shy! You know that companies with matching gift programs want to give charitably. They should be open to a nonprofit reaching out to give them a little direction.
3. Include matching gifts on your donation form.
Whether you send out paper donation slips, host an online donation form on your website, or use mobile giving software, your donation form is the most powerful platform you have to share essential information about matching gifts.
Think about it: If you ask everyone on your email list to match their gifts, you’ll be asking people who weren’t going to donate as well as people who were going to donate.
But if you ask people who are filling out the donation form to match their gifts, you know that everyone you contact is already halfway on their way to a matching gift!
You already know that these donors want to support your cause in that moment, so offer them a way to up their donation without actually giving any more money themselves.
To remind your supporters about matching gifts as they’re making a donation, you could:
- Write a few sentences about the matching gift process and its benefits at the top of the form.
- Link to a matching gift database and ask donors to check for their companies.
- Include a searchable HTML plugin linked to matching gift software.
Plugins are the cleanest way to integrate matching gift information on your donation form.
Be sure to keep your message short and direct, or choose a plugin that’s simple and clean. You don’t want to distract your supporters so much that they end up not donating at all. Make sure your online donation form is optimized so visitors to your website are sure to follow through with their donation.
4. Emphasize matching gifts on acknowledgment messages.
Second only to your donation form, your thank-you and confirmation messages are the best places to include more information encouraging matching gifts.
Donors who have just given are still in the charitable mood. Capitalize on that good feeling!
When you include matching gift information in acknowledgment messages, be sure to convey an appropriate sense of urgency.
Here are a few ways to word your acknowledgment message to make sure your donors don’t miss out on their opportunity to file a matching gift request:
- Thank you for contributing to our cause! Do you know if your employer will match your donation? Check out the matching gift database widget below, where you can search for companies that offer matching gift programs, and make special note of the deadline for submitting your paperwork.
- Thank you for your donation! Did you know your company could match your donation? Type your company information into the widget below to see if they have a matching gifts program, and be sure to make a note of the deadline to submit paperwork.
- Thank you for donating to our campaign! If you’d like to make your donation go twice as far, search your company in a matching gifts database through the widget below. Don’t wait too long! Most companies impose a deadline for submitting paperwork.
Note that you have two options: You could embed a widget directly into your message (or link to it), or send your donors to their HR department for information and paperwork.
It’s not just donation confirmation messages you should include matching gift information on.
As part of your general stewardship strategy, you should be sending regular thank-you messages to your donors. Include matching gift information on these communications, too.
5. Promote matching gifts on social media.
You should be strategic with your messaging on social media. It’s tempting to just flood your followers’ feeds with information, but that strategy can overwhelm them and cause them to unfollow you. Think about when and how you’re reaching out via social media platforms.
Sometimes your supporters are more likely to be on social media looking for information about your nonprofit:
- #GivingTuesday: This hashtag trends on Twitter on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, encouraging charitable giving across many areas of the nonprofit sector.
- End of a fundraising campaign: If you’re wrapping up a campaign, your followers will want to see total donation amounts and other statistics about how it went.
- The holidays: It’s a charitable time of year, and your supporters will be looking for the best ways to give.
The medium of your posts also matters. If you just share text-only posts all the time, your followers could just glaze over them as they scroll through their feeds. Consider using images, infographics, and hyperlinks to make your posts about matching gifts more interactive and interesting.
As you work to spread the word about matching gifts on social media during these peak times, make sure you’re keeping in mind social media best practices.
6. Work matching gifts into your events.
What better time to make an important announcement than when you’ve got all of your supporters together?
When you’re hosting an event, you have the attention of everyone in attendance! Use that attention to inform your donors about ways to make their gift go further.
Here are some ways you can include matching gifts in the program of a few common fundraising events:
- Charity auction: During a charity auction, everyone’s eyes are at the front of the room to watch the emcee run live bidding. Capitalize on the focused attention to bring up matching gifts to everyone in the room.
- Walkathon: Marketing materials for a charity walkathon are the perfect place to get visibility for matching gift information. You’ll have banners and booths set up all around your venue, plus any flyers you send to participants.
- Volunteer drive: If you’re organizing a volunteer drive, see if your supporters’ employers will match time as well as money donated to charity. Volunteer grants aren’t as common as matching gift programs, but they’re still widespread enough to merit asking about.
7. Employ a matching gift software.
As your nonprofit grows and your staff starts taking on more responsibilities, you might not have time to manually follow up on matching gift information. Your staff might not even know exactly what to look for.
Luckily, there’s a way to automate parts of the matching gift process.
If you don’t have the time or training to do it yourself, consider these top software solutions:
- Double the Donation: Your supporters can search Double the Donation’s database to read information about their employer’s matching gift program. You can also purchase a searchable plugin to embed directly into your website, emails, or donation page.
- 360MatchPro: Are you a larger nonprofit without the time to manually check for matching gift and employer information? 360MatchPro will automate the entire matching gifts process, pulling employer information from your donors’ email domains and other information.
The benefit of investing in software is that it automates either a part of or the whole matching gift process. You can focus on other parts of your nonprofit’s daily operations and leave the matching gifts to the experts!
By following these steps, you’re letting donors and companies know that they have the means to do what they want: make their gifts go further than they’d imagined.
Take these lessons with you, and you can’t go wrong!
Adam Weinger is one of the leading experts on corporate giving programs. He’s the President of Double the Donation, a company which helps organizations raise more money from employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs.