Fundraise Smarter

How Savvy Fundraisers Increase Donor Impact: Matching Major Gifts

Posted by Adam Weinger on Feb 8, 2016 12:48:00 PM

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Major gifts are good.

Matching gifts are good.

But what happens when you pair up major gifts and matching gifts?

A match made in heaven, that’s what!

Alright, duh. Maybe that's an obvious statement. More importantly: how can you get more matched major gifts (say that 10 times fast).

Many times, we tend to think of matching gifts only in relation to small to mid-size donations coming from an annual appeal. An extra $100 here, maybe $500 there.

However, matching gifts can play a big role in your major gift fundraising. Even though many companies place a cap on matching gifts, some of these caps are as large as $15,000 for individuals while a few go as high as $300,000!

Three. Hundred. Thousand. Times two. 

Your nonprofit should already be taking advantage of matching gifts in general, but pay special attention to how they relate to major gifts as well.

However, you can't sit back and expect these things to happen automatically. Sometimes, getting a major gift/matching gift pair going, you need to give it a little encouragement. A push, if you will.

Here are some best practices for pairing major and matching gifts.

1. Encourage major gift donors to implement matching gift programs at their companies

Take time to learn as much as possible about your organization’s largest supporters.

Some of your major gift donors may own their own companies.

Some of them may be CEOs or hold other high-ranking titles within a large company.

Your major gift donors’ scopes of influence within their own respective businesses can not only help you acquire new supporters from among their employees and/or coworkers.

They can also give your organization a boost when it comes to matching gifts by having their own donations matched and encouraging others within the company to do the same.

Fundraising Campaign Calendar

While there are already many companies that match their employees’ donations, not every corporation has instituted this particular type of giving program.

If your major gift donors work for, own, or sit on the board of a company that doesn’t have a matching gift program, encourage them to start one. Even if the process takes some time, your nonprofit can still benefit from the implementation of a matching gift program where your major gift donors work.

Now, encouraging a company to start a brand new matching gift program is easier said than done. How exactly can you go about doing this?

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of encouraging a major gift donor to go the matching-gift route.

Point #1 - Bring it back to your mission.

This point is obvious. If you can convince a major gift donor to start a matching gift program at his or her company, your nonprofit is able to do twice as much whenever that donor (or any employee of the company!) donates to your organization.

Furthering your cause can be a good consideration to bring up when trying to persuade a major gift donor of the benefits of a matching gift program. If they've already supported your mission, they're invested. Why not increase that impact?

Point #2 - Matching gifts give CSR a major boost.

Every company is trying to beef up their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. If a major gift donor is on the fence about starting a matching gift program at their company, remind them of this extra benefit.

Not only will their employees be more likely to donate to worthy organizations, but those donations will be doubled! Additionally, your major gift donors’ contributions will be matched. Everybody wins!

Point #3 - Matching gifts improve employee engagement.

The importance of employee engagement, which is defined as the emotional and functional commitment an employee has to his or her organization, cannot be overstated.

Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%! And engaged employees are also happier, stay with companies longer, and are more philanthropically minded.

While the benefits are clear, employee engagement is a struggle for most companies, with over 71% of employees reporting that they are not fully engaged.

And that’s where matching gifts come in...

A key driver of employee engagement has been reported to be an employee’s perception of the organization’s values. Without a positive feeling about the values of the organization, employee engagement will likely remain low.

At a time when employee engagement is on the decline and corporations are depicted as greedy and insensitive, a well-designed matching gift program can help companies show their employees that they care and have shared values. While this is not the sole driver of engagement, it is an important contributing factor.

Point #4 - Matching gift programs are good press.

A company that matches its employees’ donations, major or otherwise, is far more likely to be publicly admired than one that doesn’t.

If your major gift donors are still undecided about instituting a matching gift program at their companies, this final point can be a good way to persuade them.

These four tips can be good conversation starters when broaching the topic of matching gifts with your major gift donors.

Alright, back to major/matched best practices:

2. Research your top-tier givers

If you recently acquired a major gift donor, do a little digging to find out more about their employer’s giving programs

Talk directly to your major gift donors about matching gift programs that their employers might offer.

Additionally, perform a prospect screening on your top givers. Once you have identified employers and other business affiliations, research the programs that those companies offer.

Prospect research can also help you determine past giving trends and traditional wealth markers which can help you identify major gift donors. If you want some great training on how prospect research works in conjunction with major giving or matching gifts, attend a conference to learn more.

Fundraising Campaign Calendar

Once you know which of your donors’ employers offers a matching gift program, you are better prepared to market and promote those programs to your major gift donors.

Many corporations offer matching gift programs to retirees and spouses of employees as well as board members. When you do a little research, you can find out all kinds of information about your major donors.

One large donation is great. Having it matched by their employer is even better.

Check out these 31 questions that will help you talk to your major gift donors!

3. Talk, talk, talk … and track!

Ok, you don’t want to bug your major gift donors, but large donations necessitate a greater degree of communication than supporters who give small amounts every now and then.

Personalize all of your communications to major gift donors before you make the official in-person appeal and mention matching gifts regularly. If they indicate that their company doesn’t offer a matching gift program, see point one of this article and encourage them to start one at their business.

Matching gifts work, but your nonprofit can’t benefit from the pairing of matching gifts and major gifts if your donors don’t know about them.

Once you receive those matching gifts, make sure you track your success along with your other fundraising metrics. You won’t know if your tactics are working if you don’t measure how well you’re doing.

Major gifts and matching gifts are one of the best pairs since peanut butter and jelly or mac and cheese. While they may not be as tasty, matching gifts and major gifts can be a great addition to your organization’s fundraising efforts.

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, a company helping nonprofits increase fundraising from corporate employee matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

Topics: Major Gifts, corporate giving, corporate fundraising

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