Matching Gifts: How to Maximize Giving to Your School

Christina Balotescu

March 8, 2018

Many hands together with a heart painted on them, implying generosity

Let’s face it: fundraising for your university can be tough. Whether you’re soliciting donations from alumni or reaching out to corporations for charitable gifts, your school always needs to make the most of every fundraising dollar you can get.

For this reason, it’s time your school took a second look at your matching gifts strategy. By identifying and promoting matching gift opportunities among your supporters, your university stands to double the amount of money you raise each year. Who wouldn’t want that?

In this article, we provide answers to all the top matching gifts questions, including:

  1. What are matching gift programs?
  2. How does the matching gifts process work?
  3. What kind of matching gift database is best for our school?
  4. How can we promote matching gifts to alumni givers?
  5. How can we incorporate matching gifts into our school’s prospect research?

One of the best fundraising ideas for schools is matching gifts from alumni and supporters, and if your university doesn’t yet have a matching gift strategy in place, you’re leaving dollars on the table.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

1. What Are Matching Gifts Programs?

Many corporations have giving programs in place to promote charitable giving among employees.

In these programs, small businesses and large corporations alike offer monetary donations, grants, or in-kind contributions to philanthropic organizations like nonprofits, universities, and other groups.

There are lots of reasons why businesses have programs like these in place. For starters, many companies simply want to give back to their community. With others, they might see value in partnering with prominent philanthropic organizations or be interested in tax incentives.

One of the most common corporate giving programs is called a matching gift program. In these agreements, companies offer to match employee gifts to certain charities and schools. Many businesses match these gifts at a 1:1 ratio, but some will even triple or quadruple the gift amount.

Typically, there is a minimum gift size that a company will match, as well as a maximum cap for donations. For most businesses, the minimum gift they will match is about $25 and donation caps generally range between $1,000 and $100,000.

However, every year millions of dollars in donations are left unmatched by employers simply because their employees either are unaware of the matching gift program at their company or don’t know how to complete a matching gift request.

Because schools like yours have so much to gain from encouraging matching gifts among your supporters and alumni, there’s no reason not to do what you can to strengthen your matching gifts strategy. It’s just that simple!

2. How Does the Matching Gifts Process Work?

For most of your alumni, getting their donation to your university matched by their employer is a relatively simple process.

However, a large segment of your supporters will get lost during the matching gifts pipeline because they are unaware of how to complete their matching gift request.

Because of this risk, it’s important to understand how matching gift requests are processed so your school can have a better handle over what role you’ll play in this process.

  1. First, donors make their gift to your school. The gift must be submitted before they can put in their gift matching request to their employer.
  2. Next, they’ll submit their matching gift request. These formal requests are typically processed by companies’ HR departments.
  3. After that, the company needs to approve the request. Depending on the size and sophistication of the company, this step may slow down the process!
  4. Then, your school verifies the employee’s original gift. This means you’ll need to stay on top of communicating with employers.
  5. Finally, your university receives the matched gift. Just like that, the impact of your supporters has been doubled!

Now that you know how many moving parts there are to the matching gifts process, your school can start thinking of ways you can better support donors in ensuring their gifts are matched successfully.

One of the best ways to ensure that donors make it through the matching gifts process with ease? Investing in a robust matching gift database. Read on for more info on how your school can make matching gifts a breeze by using a matching gift database.

3. What Kind of Matching Gifts Database Is Best for Our School?

Matching gift databases are comprehensive tools that nonprofits and universities can use to research information to aid in securing successful matching gift requests from their supporters.

These databases house troves of information on corporate matching gifts programs and can be used both by donors as well as organizations like your university.

Matching gift databases include information such as:

  • Matching gift status. The biggest question at play is whether or not your supporters work for an employer with a matching gift program in place. With a matching gift database, both your school and your donors can research this information in just a few clicks.
  • Giving thresholds. This is the minimum or maximum donation size a company will match. When donors are able to see what kinds of gifts their companies’ match before they give, they might be inclined to raise their gift amount to maximize their impact.
  • Matching gift timelines. Individuals can also discover relevant deadlines or timelines related to different matching gift programs that are important to keep in mind when submitting and processing matching gift requests.

Tools like Double the Donation allow organizations to seamlessly incorporate their matching gift database into giving forms and web pages. Your matching gifts page can be branded to your school, so donors will never miss a beat when researching their matching gift status.

Additionally, larger organizations may find a resource like 360MatchPro useful for automatically identifying matching gift prospects and securing matched gifts.

4. How Can We Promote Matching Gifts to Alumni Givers?

Many of your university’s biggest supporters are your alumni and as your university hones its matching gifts strategy, your main focus should be on how to promote matching gifts among this important group.

Remember: because matching gift requests are placed after individuals make their donations, your school can still secure matched gifts from alumni after some time has passed since they donated.

This means your school can steer alumni toward discovering their matching gift status before they give as well as remind them about getting their gift matched once their donation has been made.

Matching gift reminders should be sent to your alumni in email communications as well as formal solicitation letters. When your university’s phone bank calls alumni, you can also bring up matching gifts as a way to show individuals the potential impact of their gifts.

However, promoting matching gifts shouldn’t stop at simply showing alumni that they can get their gifts matched. It’s also important to explain to donors how their gifts can be matched and to follow up with them throughout the process to ensure they stay on track.

5. How Can We Incorporate Matching Gifts Into Our School’s Prospect Research?

Informing alumni about matching gifts and guiding them through the process is only one aspect of a strong matching gifts fundraising strategy. To really strengthen how your organization secures matched gifts, you should also consider matching gifts during the prospect research process.

Using a matching gift database, your school can create segmented prospect lists by matching gift status. You can also sort prospects by companies to target multiple alumni working for the same corporations. For example, when individuals give using their work emails, 360MatchPro will automatically screen their domain name and send them back information on their employer’s matching gift program.

Once your university is able to collect data on your prospects’ matching gift status, you can integrate that data into your school’s CRM. From that point, you can send these individuals personalized solicitations encouraging them to participate in their employer’s giving program.

Another way to incorporate matching gifts into the prospect research process is to leverage that data when soliciting larger gifts from alumni and key donors.

For example, if you know that John Smith works for a Fortune 500 company with a robust matching gift program, you’ll know that his potential donation has the possibility of being doubled, making it even more impactful for your school’s community.

What are you waiting for? If your organization wants to make the most out of your supporters’ contributions, it’s time you started promoting matching gifts!

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If you want to learn more about how Double the Donation makes matching gifts easy and even try a free trial, please click here. If you want to learn more about 360Alumni's award-winning solution for member engagement & fundraising, please click here.

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