Harnessing the Power of Matching Gifts for Education
Education is the bedrock of our society, with schools—from pre-kindergarten through post-graduate and beyond—being an essential part of shaping future generations. However, funding gaps can often hinder educational institutions from reaching their fullest potential, which is where fundraising strategies, corporate partnerships, and more come into play. Here, we want to focus on one key component of a successful school fundraising strategy; and that is matching gifts for education.
In this guide, we’ll explore the continuously underutilized power of matching gifts as a game-changing fundraising tool for education. And specifically, we’ll cover the following topics:
- Understanding Matching Gifts Basics
- The Impact of Matching Gifts for Education Institutions
- Smart Strategies for Maximizing Your School’s Matching Gifts
- How to Get Matching Gift Buy-In From School Leadership
- Case Studies: Successful Examples of Matching Gifts for Education
As an essential component of a smart workplace giving initiative, matching gifts aim to empower educational institutions like yours to unlock additional support and propel their missions forward.
Ready to see how matching gifts can revolutionize the landscape of education funding? Let’s get started at the beginning.
Understanding Matching Gifts Basics
Matching gifts are one of the most popular types of corporate philanthropy initiatives offered by companies of all shapes and sizes. When an employer establishes such a program, they essentially agree to match staff donations to qualifying charitable organizations.
Here’s how it typically works:
- An individual donates to a qualifying nonprofit organization.
- The donor is informed about the opportunity to have their gift matched by their employer.
- The donor, upon determining their eligibility, submits a brief form to their employer to request a donation match.
- The company processes the request, verifies the initial donation, and approves the match.
- The company sends a matching donation to the organization its employee originally supported.
Thousands of businesses offer matching gift programs as a way to improve their CSR and better engage their employees, and educational groups like K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions are typically included in their qualifying criteria.
The Impact of Matching Gifts for Education Institutions
As you might imagine, matching gift programs hold immense potential for schools, students, and their broader communities. Though the advantages are multifaceted, many benefits of matching gifts for education groups can boil down to these key categories:
Increased funding for schools — Nonprofits Source reports that an estimated $2-3 billion is contributed by companies through matching gift programs each year. Thus, promoting matching gift opportunities empowers schools to drive corporate funding toward their institutions.
And beyond that, strategic matching gift marketing increases individual donor giving, to begin with. In fact, mentioning matching gifts in fundraising appeals produces a 51% increase in the average donation amount (even before considering matching gift funds).
Increased engagement with donors — Matching gift programs also offer up several opportunities for schools and other fundraising organizations to more effectively engage with their supporters. The study mentioned above also indicates that 84% of survey participants were more likely to donate if a match was offered, with matching gift marketing ultimately resulting in a 71% increase in donation response rate.
Matching gift donors are also likely to show elevated retention rates, feel more deeply connected to their school fundraising communities, and better understand the value of their donated dollars. Not to mention, matching gift follow-ups post-donation offer unique opportunities for your school to retain its place at the forefront of supporters’ minds for longer and empower you to partner with individual donors to stretch their giving impact without soliciting additional funding.
Smart Strategies for Maximizing Your School’s Matching Gifts
If you haven’t already, make a plan to integrate matching gifts into your school’s existing revenue-generation strategy. We recommend implementing the following tried-and-tested tips to make the most of the opportunity.
1. Familiarize yourself with companies that match gifts to schools.
One of the first things you can do to set your school up for matching gift success is to get familiar with the companies that will match your donors’ gifts. Each company that launches a matching gift program can establish the types of organizations to which it will provide match funds. So, as a school, you’ll want to look for businesses that match gifts made to educational institutions. (Keep in mind that some companies will match to all educational institutions, while others may exclude K-12 schools, instead placing their focus on higher education).
Some of these companies that offer matching gifts for education include:
- Texas Instruments
- Penguin Random House
- Smart Modular Technologies
- Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association
- National Student Clearinghouse
- News Corp
Be sure to stay updated on new companies joining the list (additional programs roll out every day!) and periodically review available matching gift opportunities to maximize potential donations for your institution.
2. Promote matching gifts alongside school fundraisers.
More than likely, your school hosts a number of engaging fundraisers throughout the year as a way to generate revenue from supporters and strengthen your donor community.
But did you know you can bring just about any fundraising idea to new heights by integrating matching gift promotions into your strategy? To get started, incorporate messaging about matching gifts into all your school fundraisers—including events, campaigns, Giving Days, donation drives, and more.
Be sure to clearly communicate the impact that matching gifts can have on doubling or multiplying donations, motivating donors to participate and drive a greater impact for your school! Research shows that donors tend to be increasingly likely to support charitable causes when they know their employers will match their contributions.
3. Collect employment information to identify potential matches.
There’s likely a section in your school’s online donation form where donors provide information about themselves. This may include some combination of their name, association with your school (student, alumnus, family member, etc.), contact information, and more. When collecting these details, one of the best things you can do to strengthen your school’s matching gift strategy is to add a subsection within that prompts individuals to provide their employment details.
After all, in order to pursue matching gifts effectively, the most important data point you’ll need is your donors’ employing companies. And this is a particularly simple and effective way to collect it!
From there, you’ll be able to identify the companies that your donors work for that also offer matching gift programs (i.e., locate match-eligible donors) and take an increasingly tailored approach to promoting matching gifts to these individuals.
4. Simplify the matching gift process with actionable follow-ups.
Any hiccups in the matching gift process can cause eligible donors to abandon their potential matches, ultimately leading to unclaimed funding for your school. The best way to ensure that doesn’t happen? Take the initiative to preemptively remove possible roadblocks beforehand!
Specifically, that should include developing a streamlined process that informs donors of their matching gift eligibility (based on the information collected in the previous steps), guides donors directly to their companies’ online submission forms, and follows up to drive matches to completion.
The less research an individual has to do on their own to request a matching gift, the more likely they are to complete the steps, and the more likely your school will receive a corresponding match in the future! Thus, we recommend simplifying things by employing targeted follow-ups beginning on your gift confirmation page, automated email reminders, and more.
5. Add matching gift software to your school fundraising toolkit.
Finally, don’t forget to add a matching gift tool to your school fundraising toolkit!
Technology providers like Double the Donation’s 360MatchPro can even integrate seamlessly with your existing donation platforms to further optimize the matching experience. This can allow your team to identify more matching donors, ensure no potential matches slip through the cracks, and track matching gifts through to completion.
How to Get Matching Gift Buy-In From School Leadership
A well-planned matching gift strategy can bring your school’s fundraising to the next level. But getting started requires an investment of time and resources—so you might need some help obtaining the support of your school’s decision-makers. And the bottom line is that you need to get those in charge of the budget to see the huge and largely untapped potential of matching gifts.
Luckily, we have some tips and tricks to help there, as well! We recommend the following practices:
Leverage your school’s existing data. Dig into your supporter database to uncover matching gift opportunities, and communicate the tangible impact that those dollars can have for your school. Key metrics here include the amount of match-eligible donations versus completed matching gifts, the number of donors working for companies with matching gift programs, and more.
Share statistics that highlight the matching gift opportunity. External research can go to supplement your points, too. We’ve found statistics from Double the Donation to argue a clear case in support of matching gifts. For example, did you know that an estimated $4 – $7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed per year? Or that, despite 26 million individuals working for companies that match employee gifts, more than 78% have no idea that they qualify for matching? Your supervisors likely won’t know, either, so we recommend sharing the information!
Case Studies: Successful Examples of Matching Gifts for Education
Interested in seeing the transformative power of matching gifts—and the above tips and tricks—in action? We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite inspirational matching gift case studies, enabling school fundraisers to explore powerful examples of matching gifts for education.
[Note: these exemplary schools and the associated findings have been pulled from Double the Donation’s complete collection of matching gift case studies. Learn more about the in-depth insights here.]
Blair Academy has implemented a comprehensive matching gift strategy by actively engaging with its alumni and donors. The school makes a significant effort to educate its supporters about the availability of matching gift programs and encourage them to explore matching gift opportunities with their employers.
And check out the results of the case study!
Blair Academy’s success can be largely attributed to the following components of its matching gift strategy:
- Email domain screening for matching gift-eligible donors
- Donation form search field informing donors about matching gifts and collecting employment data within the giving process
- Actionable next steps on the donation confirmation page with detailed matching gift program results provided in real-time
- Automated follow-up messaging to remind supporters about the opportunity and drive more matches to completion
Through proactive outreach and smart matching gift software usage, the school aims to provide personalized guidance to donors on the matching gift submission process, simplifying the steps and ultimately maximizing its impact.
Catholic Education Arizona
Catholic Education Arizona recognizes the potential of matching gifts to support its mission of providing quality education to students in the state. The organization actively promotes matching gifts alongside its additional fundraising initiatives, ensuring that donors are aware of the opportunity to double or even triple their contributions through employer matches.
With its well-built-out strategy in place, Catholic Education Arizona has seen the following in terms of matching gift results:
This organization employed a multifaceted matching gift promotional strategy that included—but was certainly not limited to—the following:
- Automated email domain screening
- An intuitive and auto-completing company search field embedded in the donation form
- Personalized and actionable follow-up messaging post-donation
The more that Catholic Education Arizona was able to market matching gift opportunities to its supporters, the better engagement with available matching gift programs they saw!
Syracuse University has implemented a smart matching gift strategy by incorporating relevant messaging into its fundraising campaigns, events, donor communications, and more.
In order to do so effectively, the university opts to obtain donor employment information to identify matching gifts and provide step-by-step instructions for individuals looking to participate. And here are the results they’ve seen!
How’d they do it? The Syracuse team employed the following tactics in its overall matching gift fundraising plan to increase awareness of—and drive revenue through—the programs:
- Email domain screening
- Donation form search field
- Thank-you page match program results
- Automated follow-up messaging
- Matching gift plugin on the website
All in all, they aim to make it easy for donors to submit matching gift requests, simplifying the process and maximizing the impact of their donations.
By educating donors about matching gift opportunities, streamlining the submission process for supporters, and equipping your development team with the right tools, educational institutions like yours can tap into this powerful resource more easily than ever before.
Now, it’s time to seize the opportunity and propel your school’s fundraising forward. Get started by making a strategic effort to pursue matching gifts through every avenue. Just think about what your school could do with twice the funds available to you.
Explore additional workplace giving opportunities and see how these initiatives can further your school fundraising here: https://www.schoolmoney.org/workplace-giving-and-school-fundraising/.