The complete year-end guide to maximizing matching gifts

July 31, 2023 | Double the Donation
The complete year-end guide to maximizing matching gifts
from our friends at Double the Donation

The final few months of the year hold great significance for nonprofit organizations as a critical time for fundraising. People tend to experience heightened generosity and are increasingly motivated to make charitable contributions, which explains why so many nonprofit fundraisers refer to this period as the year-end giving season.

Needless to say, if you’re a fundraiser, meeting your organization’s fundraising goal is top of mind in the fall and winter. One way to bring any organization’s end-of-year fundraising strategy to the next level is a matching gift strategy.

Understanding matching gifts

Matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy where companies pledge to match employees’ donations to eligible nonprofits. This empowers qualifying individuals to double the impact of each dollar they give, ultimately enabling nonprofits to do more with the funds they raise.

Plenty of companies offer these generous giving initiatives⁠—from 67% of the Fortune 500 (including Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Walt Disney, and more) to your local mom-and-pop shop down the road.

Here’s how it works: An employee first donates to a nonprofit, then determines their matching gift eligibility. Upon establishing that they qualify for a match, they complete a brief (typically online) submission form to be reviewed by their employer. If approved, the company sends an equal⁠—or sometimes greater⁠—contribution to the organization. In the end, the nonprofit receives two gifts for the cost of soliciting one!

The value of matching gifts in year-end fundraising

The year-end season, combined with matching gifts, creates a powerful opportunity with many benefits for nonprofit fundraisers. By promoting matching gifts during the year-end season, nonprofits can…

  • Inspire donors to give generously. Knowing their contributions have double the impact drives many nonprofit supporters to give⁠—and to give in larger amounts. In fact, Double the Donation research indicates that mentioning matching gifts results in a 71% increase in response rate and a 51% increase in average donation amount.
  • Maximize corporate philanthropy funding. Matching gift programs are widely available but rely on individual donors to complete a dedicated request process to secure the funding. Many donations remain eligible for matching until the end of the calendar year, so year-end matching gift marketing empowers organizations to make the most of recent and past donors to match and secure additional funding.
A gray and green graph with an X axis labeled "matching gifts" and a Y axis labeled "end-of-year fundraising". There is an arrow headed up and to the right on the graph labeled "nonprofit funding".

Forbes reports that December alone accounts for nearly a third of annual giving, with 10% of nonprofit revenue being received in just the last three days of the year. By leveraging this form of philanthropy in a time already characterized by generosity, nonprofits like yours can attract more donors, boost your fundraising totals, and achieve your goals more effectively⁠—and efficiently⁠—than ever before.

Best practices for maximizing matching gifts this year-end season

Despite their benefits, matching gifts often remain a severely underutilized nonprofit funding source—but no one likes to leave money on the table. In order to make the most of the opportunity this year, it’s important to have a well-thought-out strategy in place. Try these proven tips and tricks to yield impactful results!

1. Spread awareness of matching gift programs throughout the year.

Millions of donors qualify for matching gifts, but the vast majority of this group (an estimated 78%) are unaware of the opportunity. One solution is to initiate proactive matching gift marketing efforts early⁠—i.e., throughout the year⁠—to bridge the knowledge gap and drive donor participation come giving season.

A screenshot of a social media promotion for a nonprofit fundraising campaign. Beside a photo of two gray tabby kittens, text reads "Cat Rescue Club. Double your impact with matching gifts. See if your donation qualifies! #MatchingGifts #DoubleTheImpact"

We recommend implementing a multi-channel engagement strategy that meets donors where they are. This may include some combination of email marketing, social media posting, direct mail, and your nonprofit’s website!

2. Equip your nonprofit with dedicated tools ahead of the year’s end.

The end-of-year giving season is generally a very busy time for nonprofit professionals. That’s why automating the matching gift process can be a game-changer⁠⁠—and why your team should build out your giving season toolkit with matching gift technology beforehand.

A screenshot of the gray and green Double the Donation dashboard showing matching gift data.

Specifically, Double the Donation’s seamless integration with EveryAction can empower users to save time and effort while maximizing matching gift opportunities⁠. This technology partnership enables organizations to integrate matching gifts directly into their fundraising processes, identifying, following up with, and tracking eligible matches without lifting a finger.

3. Follow up on previously-made and match-eligible donations.

Many companies establish match deadlines that align with the end of the calendar year. That said, the last few weeks in December are often the last chance for organizations and their donors to follow up on unclaimed matches and ensure corporate donations are secured.

Screenshot of an email from Cat Rescue Club. Header image says "Your donation could be doubled!" and shows a photo of Xena and Gabrielle, the first two cats to be adopted out by the organization. The text of the email is addressed to a donor named Jane, who made a gift on January 11 that may be eligible for a match from her employer, The Home Depot. The email includes instructions for how to get her gift matched or to opt out if she knows her gift is not eligible for a match.

This retroactive approach allows organizations to engage with existing donors without requesting another gift, which helps busy fundraisers deepen their donor relationships and take them beyond the transactional. This approach also empowers donors to show continued support for the causes they care about without having to reach back into their wallets to do so.

4. Thank and acknowledge your matching gift donors.

Expressing appreciation strengthens the relationship between your organization and its donors, and the positive experience can lead to heightened retention⁠—giving and getting their gifts matched time and time again.

For the best results, we recommend thanking matching gift donors in two key circumstances: after they indicate they’ve submitted their requests and once your team receives the completed match funding.

Not to mention, public acknowledgment of matching gift donors can also have a profound effect. Not only does it reiterate your gratitude for their participation, but it can also inspire others to follow suit.

Wrapping up

The year-end giving season represents a golden opportunity for nonprofits to maximize their fundraising potential through corporate matching programs. Year-end giving season will be here before we know it⁠—which is why now is the perfect time to build out your toolkit and establish a plan for this critical period. With these practices in mind, your organization can harness the full potential of matching gifts and make a lasting impact on your fundraising and engagement efforts for months and years to come.

Looking for more guidance on year-end fundraising? Download this year-end fundraising campaign guide + timeline from EveryAction, which is part of Bonterra, and learn more about how the right matching gift integrations can make your fundraising even more effective and efficient!