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Nonprofit Fundraising Basics: Matching Gifts

Marcella Vitulli

New to matching gifts or interested in understanding the basics a bit more? Here's a handy breakdown from Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation, which outlines some of the easiest ways to incorporate matching gifts into your fundraising.

What if every time you bought a chocolate chip cookie, the baker gave you two cookies for the price of one? You’d be pretty excited and would probably continue giving that bakery your business.

Matching gifts are almost exactly like those chocolate chip cookies. Although they aren’t better when they come straight out of the oven and don’t taste great with a tall glass of milk, matching gifts can be a fantastic way to double the donations that your nonprofit is already receiving from donors - here's how!


What are matching gifts?

Matching gifts are contributions that donors’ employers give to eligible nonprofits after an initial donation has been made. While most companies match gifts at a 1:1 ratio, doubling the employee’s donation, some companies match contributions at up to a 4:1 ratio.

Certain companies will donate to any eligible 501(c)(3) organization, whereas others have limitations and will only contribute to nonprofits that support certain causes such as:

  • Arts and culture
  • Education
  • Health and human services
  • Environmental and sustainability
  • And other organizations

Take a look at the top companies that match gifts


How can your nonprofit promote matching gifts?

Luckily, there is no shortage of ways for a nonprofit to market matching gifts to donors. While some donors may know about matching gift programs through their employers, many have no idea that they can double or even triple their donation simply by filling out some paperwork.

There are a few major ways to promote matching gifts to donors:

  • Throughout the online donation process
  • On social media
  • In your newsletters
  • Throughout the online donation process

Individuals who are already giving to your organization are more likely to look into having their donations matched. Because you have these donors’ attention, take the opportunity to market matching gifts to them.

You can promote matching gifts:

  • On a donation page
  • On a confirmation page
  • In a thank you email
  • Donation page

Promoting matching gifts to donors as they’re making their initial donations can be very rewarding. Donors are already showing interest in your organization; help them make their donation go further by promoting matching gifts.

The Association of Former Students at Texas A&M University does an excellent job of promoting matching gifts on their donation page. Not only do they include a link that allows donors to find out if their employers will match their donations, but they also provide a way for donors to input their company name and the ratio at which their donations will be matched.


Learn more about making your donation page donor-friendly


Confirmation Page

Use a confirmation page following receipt of an online gift to let donors know that they can easily make their donation go twice as far!

The Piedmont Foundation allows donors to see that their donation went through successfully while informing them of matching gifts. They offer donors a link to an e-receipt as well as a tool that lets them check if their employer offers a matching gift program. If the employer does, then donors can view more specific information.


Thank You Email

Donors like to feel appreciated, and while you may not be able to handwrite individual thank you cards to all of your donors, you can send them all a thank you email. When you thank donors for their contribution, you can also promote matching gift programs to encourage them to have their donations matched.

The IEEE Foundation sends out thank you emails that incorporate matching gift graphics and links that capture donors’ attention. By showing appreciation for donors’ contributions and including information about matching gifts in a thank you email, nonprofits can encourage donors to look into their employers’ matching gift programs and further increase donor retention by establishing a connection with donors.


On social media

Social media sites are a great way for nonprofits to connect with donors in general, but did you know they are also a great way to promote matching gifts?

While Facebook is still the top social media site, your nonprofit can use other platforms to effectively promote matching gifts:


Send out short tweets letting followers know about matching gifts. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; you do only have 140 characters! Provide donors with links to more information about matching gifts within the tweet.


Post pictures with captions showing what your organization is accomplishing with current donations. Add in a sentence or two about matching gifts and add a link to your bio with more details.


With nearly 70 million users worldwide, Pinterest is a great place to promote matching gifts. Create a “Matching Gifts” board and share relevant articles and infographics that followers can like and repin.

When it comes to Facebook, it’s important to remain consistent and interactive. The whole point of social media is to create a two-way connection between users, and you can help donors relate to your nonprofit by posting relevant content about matching gifts.

The ALS Association perfectly illustrates how to market matching gifts to followers. This post is short and to the point and incorporates an image as well as a link to more information. This post was also highly shareable with over 250 likes and 72 shares.


Learn the biggest mistakes to avoid when using social media


Using Newsletters

Many nonprofits already send newsletters that help donors stay informed about the organization’s projects and accomplishments. You can use your existing newsletter format to let donors know about matching gift programs that can help your nonprofit do even more!

The Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association sends its donors regular eNews and, in this instance, has taken the opportunity to let people know about matching gifts. They have provided instructions on how to find out if donors’ employers offer matching gift programs and included a link that gives donors more information. 


While the CMTA has dedicated an entire newsletter to matching gifts, your nonprofit can add information about them within a newsletter that lets donors know about current projects and events. Either way, putting information about matching gifts in your newsletter can increase the chances that donors maximize their initial donations. 


Other matching gift tips

While there are numerous ways to market matching gifts to your donors, you can also incorporate them into other events and campaigns that your nonprofit runs:

Annual giving

If you have donors who make regular donations each year, consider promoting matching gifts a few months before they make their contributions to help them maximize their yearly donations.

Major gift donors

Your nonprofit might be benefiting from the generosity of major gift donors. If these contributors happen to work for a company that matches gifts, your organization could be receiving even more donations.

You can perform a prospect research screening to find more information about donors (like where they work) to help your staff properly approach major gift donors about matching gifts.

Fundraising events

If you host galas, auctions, or other fundraising events, you can promote matching gifts while you have a crowd of donors within earshot. Have one of your speakers mention matching gifts when you've captured attendees’ attention to help ensure that contributors know about maximizing their donations.


By knowing more about matching gifts, your nonprofit can be better equipped to promote them to your existing and potential donors. By promoting matching gifts across your donation process, on social media, and in your newsletters, you can help donors double their contributions. Additionally, when you incorporate matching gifts into your annual giving campaigns, your major gift contributions, and your fundraising events, you can cover all of your bases and receive more matching gifts from your donors!

Need more information about matching gifts? Check out this great resource!

adam-weinger-headshot-square.pngAdam 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. 



Topics: fundraising, guest post