Nonprofits all over have probably heard of matching gifts. But how many organizations actually pursue them? According to these statistics, $4-$7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed every year!
A huge part of the reason that nonprofits miss out is because the process for donors to actually submit a matching gift form is complicated or downright confusing.
So how do donors submit matching gift requests? A lot of the time, they don’t.
That’s why we thought it would be helpful to show you exactly how to use matching gift forms. This basic guide will cover the essentials of matching gifts, explain how matching gift forms work, and offer some options to make the process even easier. That way, in the end, you can get yourself some more matching gift revenue!
Let’s get started.
Matching Gift Basics
Matching gifts occur when a company or charitable individual matches the donations made to an organization.
The most common type is corporate matching gifts, where employers match the donations their employees make to eligible nonprofits. Companies generally have a set match ratio (usually 1:1, but it can be higher or lower), but lots of employees don’t know their companies even offer these programs.
Other types of matching gift programs include personal matching gifts, where a generous supporter matches all the donations up to a certain amount for an organization during a campaign, and larger matching gift campaigns, where a business, benefactor, board member, or foundation will match gifts up to a certain amount, as well.
How Corporate Matching Gifts Work
Now that you have a broader idea of what matching gifts are, we want to zoom in on corporate matching gifts.
Generally, the corporate matching gift process looks like this:
- An individual donates to a nonprofit.
- The individual looks up their eligibility for a matching gift and accesses the forms needed to submit their request (this is a big part of it, and the purpose of this article!).
- The individual submits the match request to their employer.
- Their employer reviews the request and verifies the donation with the nonprofit (another important part!).
- The employer matches the donation.
But as you get into the nitty gritty details of matching gift policies, there are other things you need to keep in mind:
- Eligibility. Both your donors and your organization have to be eligible for a matching gift. Donors need to check to see if their employment status (full-time, part-time, retired) allows them to submit a match request, and your organization needs to fall into the categories of nonprofits that the company donates to.
- Minimum and maximum gift amounts. Most of the time, a company has a limit on the amount of money they’ll match. But there’s also a minimum amount, usually around $25. It’s crucial that your donors understand what donation amounts can be matched to ensure their gift falls under that umbrella.
- Match ratios. Depending on the company, they may offer a dollar for dollar match, or a higher or lower ratio. In general, ratios range from .5:1 to 4:1.
Before the donation can be matched, all of those requirements have to be met. And that’s where matching gift forms come into play—these forms usually include this info so the donor can confirm their eligibility when they fill out the form.
Matching Gift Form Process
If you’re not sure how to use matching gift forms, it’s actually pretty straightforward. These forms are used by the matching gift company to review the donation and the donor’s information, as well as the recipient organization.
But there are two types of matching gift forms that can be used for this process: paper and electronic.
Paper Matching Gift Forms
While paper matching gift forms aren’t as common these days, it’s still important to offer access to a paper version if it’s available, especially for supporters who prefer to submit a paper form.
The paper form has two key components:
- Donor section: This section is where employees provide details about themselves and their donation, such as their employee identification number, personal information (like a mailing address and phone number), and the donation amount.
- Nonprofit section: This section will include questions about the recipient organization (you!). The donor will typically need to provide documentation of their donation, which your nonprofit will need to create, as well as list your organization’s name, the type of organization (cultural, educational, etc.), and the donation date.
Once the paper form has been filled out, the donor can submit it via the preferred method (mail, fax, etc.) to their employer, who will then review the request.
Electronic Matching Gift Forms
Electronic matching gift forms are way more common in this day and age, and most companies have transitioned to this method. This also makes it easier for employees to submit their matching gift requests, which is great for your organization!
Here are the key components of electronic matching gift forms:
- Employee sign-in page: In order to access their employer’s electronic matching gift forms, employees typically need to sign in using their employee username and password. Retirees might have to register and login using a third-party company, but from there it’s pretty simple to navigate.
- Submission: Similar to paper forms, employees need to provide information about their donation, such as the recipient organization’s name and info—which is found on a list of 501(c)(3) organizations—and the donation amount and date.
Once the electronic form has been submitted, the employer reviews it and determines whether the donation is eligible for a match.
Once the donor’s employer has reviewed the match request, you’re not in the clear just yet! Your organization will need to verify the donation for the matching gift company. This means confirming receipt of the original gift and potentially verifying that you do have 501(c)(3) status.
Without verifying the gift, it’s simple: no match for you.
That’s why you need to make sure your team understands the process of verifying the donation, whether that means logging into the company’s online verification system or mailing a letter. Many companies use third-party corporate giving vendors, like Benevity, YourCause, or CyberGrants, and nonprofits need to verify the amounts through these platforms. Make sure you have a streamlined process for verifying these donations!
Benefits of Electronic Matching Gift Forms
When it comes to electronic vs. paper matching gift forms, the benefits of going the electronic route stand out. For one thing, the entire process is more streamlined, which results in more donors filling them out at all.
Electronic matching gift forms can also be used in conjunction with matching gift software, which nonprofits use to encourage matching gift request submissions and also automate this entire process.
Matching Gift Software
You might have heard the phrases matching gift software or matching gift database floating around. But have you ever looked into these options before?
A matching gift database houses information on thousands of companies that offer matching gift programs. This means the database includes information about the company, their match ratio, minimum and maximum amounts, and most importantly, a link to their matching gift form.
Depending on the type of matching gift software you use, there are a couple of ways it can benefit your organization:
- Search tool plugin: Through an embeddable search tool that can go anywhere on your website, donors type in the name of their employer. The tool then pulls up all of the info they need about submitting a match request.
- Automation tools: Some matching gift software even automates the entire process. When a donor submits a gift to your organization, the platform automatically scans the information they provide to determine their eligibility for a match. Depending on their eligibility, the platform will then trigger an email outlining the next steps they should take.
When choosing matching gift software, you’ll want to look at a few different factors:
- How long the software has been around.
- How comprehensive their database is.
- How many matching gift forms they contain.
- How accurate and up-to-date the information is.
- How easy it is to search.
- How the platform can integrate with your current fundraising software.
Luckily, we have a recommendation for you: Double the Donation.
Double the Donation is the leading provider of matching gift solutions. Their matching gift database has collected data on more than 20,000 companies and subsidiaries and their matching gift program information.
Keep reading to learn how tools like the ones from Double the Donation can help you incorporate matching gifts into your donation process!
Incorporating Matching Gifts into Your Donation Form
People come to your donation page at the peak of their engagement. They’re seriously considering donating to your organization (hence, the reason they’re on your donation page in the first place) and most receptive at this time to learning about matching gift opportunities.
Here’s a scenario to build out this point:
- Joe, a prospective donor, visits your donation page, ready to make a gift to your organization.
- While on the page, Joe notices a search tool by the donation form that says, “See if your employer will match your donation!”
- Joe types in the name of his employer (Microsoft), and Microsoft’s matching gift guidelines and a link to the form come up on his screen.
- Joe completes his donation and fills out the electronic form to submit a match request.
This is one of several ways you can incorporate matching gifts into your donation process. Alternatively, you can embed your matching gift search tool, like the one from Double the Donation, into your donation page, confirmation page, dedicated matching gift page, or other areas of your website.
Then, if you want to take this several steps further, think about the automation tools we mentioned earlier.
An automation platform will automatically follow up with match-eligible donors and encourage them to submit a matching gift request. Double the Donation also offers such a platform, as well: 360MatchPro.
Using tools like 360MatchPro, you can:
- Make it even easier for donors to access the matching gift forms they need.
- Boost the number of completed match requests.
- Increase your matching gift revenue.
Incorporating matching gifts into your donation form and process will raise even more awareness around matching gifts. And that’s exactly what needs to happen if you want donors to submit a match request. After all, if donors don’t know their donations can be doubled, they won’t try it!
Matching Gift Form Sample
If you’re interested in seeing what a matching gift database entry looks like, we’ve pulled a sample for you.
Below, you’ll see that a donor has found the search tool plugin on a nonprofit’s website:
Next, they’ve typed the name of their employer (The Coca-Cola Company) into the search tool:
Then, their employer’s matching gift program information populates, offering a direct link to The Coca-Cola Company’s electronic matching gift form:
Lastly, the donor can log into their company account to access the matching gift form and submit all of the necessary information:
From there, your nonprofit will be on its way to securing more matching gift revenue!
Understanding how to use matching gift forms is essential for your nonprofit. Your team should be able to answer any questions donors have, know how to verify match requests for companies, and raise more as a result.
When you use matching gift software to streamline this entire process, you’ll make it easier on donors and yourself.
Additional Matching Gift Resources
If you’re looking to learn more about matching gifts, top companies that offer matching gift programs, or just corporate giving in general, check out the resources below!
- 14 Important Questions to Ask About Matching Gifts. Still trying to wrap your head around matching gifts? Ask yourself these important questions.
- Top 30 Matching Gift Companies: Find Your Match. Check out this list of the top matching gift companies from 360MatchPro.
- Corporate Giving Programs: The Ultimate Fundraising Guide. Matching gifts are just one type of corporate giving program. Learn about even more programs with this awesome guide from Double the Donation.