3 Ways to Use Matching Gifts to Boost Year End Fundraising

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Include These 3 Steps In Your Planning

Clock ticking off to the new year. Just in time for year-end fundraising.
Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Ahh, year’s end. A time to be with family and friends. A time to share stories and stuff yourself with hearty meals. A time to be thankful. A time for gift giving.

A time for matching gift giving?

Actually, yes. The end of the year is a great time for matching gifts. Let me explain why.

Matching gift programs are these wonderful fundraising treats. They take a single donation from a supporter, get that supporter’s employer on board, and leave you with double your expected gift. Not a bad deal, not a bad deal at all.

Adding to the value of matching gift programs is the fact that they usually have rather lengthy grace periods before deadlines. Many people wrongfully assume that there is a tight window between when someone makes a donation and when that gift’s eligibility for matching expires.

Even though untrue, that misunderstanding leads many nonprofits to forgo their matching gift funding possibilities. I say this all to point out that matching contributions are certainly within reach and, in many ways, year-end fundraising is the ideal time to promote them.

Here’s how you should go about doing so.

Step #1: Understand Common Deadlines

Even though it would be amazing if all donors with employee matching gift programs submitted their requests immediately after donating, that is an unrealistic goal.

In the case of matching gifts, the speed of submission is important, but not the end-all-be-all. Your organization can have some leniency with how quickly donors make requests because the programs themselves are quite lenient with deadlines.

Typically, program deadlines fall into one of three categories:

  • A set time after the donation, i.e. twelve, eight, or six months
  • The end of the calendar year
  • The end of January, February, or March in the year following the donation year

For year-end fundraising, the first deadline category is not too relevant, but the second two certainly are.

With deadlines approaching right around the end of the year, it is the perfect time to remind donors that they can submit matching gift requests. Get those doubled funds in before the deadline expires, and you’ll get a great year-end boost.

Step #2: Take Stock of Potential Matching Gift Donors

An excellent end-of-year strategy is to take a look through your donor management system and pull all of your donors from the previous calendar year.

Once you have that list in front of you, organize the data according to the following two questions:

  • Who submitted matching gifts in the last year?
  • Who of these same individuals donated in the calendar year, but have not yet gotten their gifts matched?

The group of donors that you segment from that list will be prime candidates for your year-end matching gift push.

Additionally, comb through your donors and look for those who work for companies with generous matching gift programs. Many of your donors won’t even know that matching gifts are a possibility.

If you’re low on donor employment information in your database, perform a bit of research on your major donors to get your nonprofit up to speed.

Step #3: Promote, Market, Repeat

Lack of awareness is likely going to be the biggest obstacle between your nonprofit and its matching gift goals. You’ll need to raise awareness.

With a year-end deadline push as your motivation, go out and get to promoting.

There are various platforms where you can promote matching gifts. For the holiday matching gift promotions, the three best outlets to begin with are:

  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Consider these the big three of online nonprofit promotion. Although your goal through each of these channels is the same, the formats you’re working in will have an effect on how you get to that goal.

Read on for how to use each social media platform and to see real life examples. 

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How to Excite Donors about Matching Gifts Through Email

Matching gift promotion via email from Adrian College
Adrian College sent this fun email to promote matching gifts. Adrian College

Email is the veteran of nonprofit online marketing.

When making year-end matching gift appeals through email, make your promotion fun and themed for the holiday season.

An excellent example of a holiday matching gift offer is the email above from Adrian College.

This year-end matching gift appeal does many things right because it:

  • Sticks to the holiday spirit with a winter theme and “Season’s Greetings” as the title
  • Contains text describing the benefits and ease of making a matching gift submission
  • Has a link embedded within the description text
  • Features a call-to-action graphic that links out as well, following the text

You can choose to either promote matching gifts in your year-end email newsletter as a section or send it out in its own email. Whichever option you choose, impress upon donors that there is still time to submit requests, but many deadlines are approaching quickly.

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How to Use Facebook for Year-end Matching Gifts

Camp Kudzu used Facebook to remind doonors to check into employee matching donations for year-end fundraising.
Camp Kudzu used this simle FB update to remind donors to use their employer's matching gift program for holiday fundraising. Camp Kudzu

With Facebook, the same rules from the email list apply. Keep the post on point and on- theme. Include a compelling call-to-action and any crucial information.

You could use the model of Camp Kudzu's year-end matching gift appeal (see screenshot above).

Even the simplest message such as this one can have a significant effect. Try posting your FB updates frequently to get in front of your supporters.

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Using Twitter for Year-End Matching Gift Promotions

This is how Freedom House promoted year-end matching gifts to its donors.
Freedom House

Successful use of Twitter can be a game changer for a fundraising organization. Let Twitter help your organization out with an appeal for matching gifts.

Twitter is immediate. Due to this rapid fire quality, your matching gift appeal can quickly disappear into the background, so if you’re going to promote on Twitter, make sure that you are frequently posting.

The tweets are obviously going to be short because of the nature of the format. For a tweet, more than any other promotional move, get the critical information out there fast!

Someone just skimming tweets should be able to understand what you’re promoting and how she can learn more in roughly ten seconds.

Consider taking a page out of Freedom House DC’s book with your year-end matching gift appeals (see image above).

In addition to promoting matching gifts using social media and email, take the time to thank publicly your donors who submitted matching gifts. The holiday season is a perfect time to say thanks for submitting a match, can improve donor retention, and encourage donors to give again.

Regardless of how you choose to promote, the takeaway here is that you are promoting.

The end of the year is an excellent time for matching gifts, whether you are convincing donors from six months ago or trying to teach new donors about their matching gift programs.  You’ll find success if you communicate with them about just how easy it is to secure that additional corporate funding.

Maybe you run a quirky and creative holiday-themed fundraiser every December. Maybe you send out direct mail packages to all your annual fund donors following Thanksgiving.

Regardless of what your year-end fundraising standbys are, include matching gifts promotion in the process. Your budget will be glad you did.