Matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program. They essentially double a single donation to your nonprofit.
Here’s how they work:
- A donor makes a contribution to your nonprofit (either by mail, over the phone, through your online giving page, or via another method).
- The donor submits a matching gift request (either via a paper form or online) to their employer’s HR department.
- The company will review the donation and determine your nonprofit’s eligibility (some companies only donate to certain types of charities).
- If eligible, your nonprofit will receive a check from the company for the same amount as the initial donation.
Let’s run through some of the more specific details about matching gifts.
Donation and nonprofit eligibility
Most nonprofits will match standard, cash donations. Typically, in-kind donations are not eligible, but in some cases, companies will match a technology or software donation that someone makes to a nonprofit. For example, HP will match in-kind donations of HP technology.
Additionally, companies have guidelines for the types of nonprofits or schools that are eligible to receive matching gifts. Typically, churches or religious organizations do not qualify. In some instances, a nonprofit may need to produce proof of its 501(c)(3) status before a matching gift can be received.
Matching gift ratios and minimum and maximum amounts
Most companies will match donations at a standard 1:1 ratio, doubling an employee’s donation. However, some businesses have match ratios that go as high as 3:1, which quadruple an employee’s contribution!
Oftentimes, the matching gift ratio will depend on a donor’s status within the company (employees will typically be eligible for a higher match ratio than retirees, for instance).
Many companies also institute a donation minimum (typically between $25 and $50), although companies like Apple will match contributions as small as one dollar!
Every company that matches gifts also has a maximum amount per employee that they will match per year. These caps can range from $1,000 to $100,000.
Nearly every company that has a matching gift program will match full-time employees’ charitable donations.
However, some of these businesses also extend their matching gift programs to:
- Part-time employees
- Spouses of employees and retirees
- Board members
It is up to employees to know their matching gift eligibility status.
Deadlines and paperwork requirements
Each matching gift program has a different deadline. Some companies require paperwork within 3 months of a donation.
Other businesses will give employees until January or February of the year following the donation date to make their matching gift submissions.
Additionally, some companies will only accept paper or digital form submissions (although many will accept both).
This means that donors who submit year-end gifts might be able to have their contributions matched by their employers!
What’s the bottom line? Matching gifts are a great opportunity to potentially double your nonprofit’s fundraising revenue. As long as you’re aware of deadlines, restrictions, and guidelines, you can accurately promote matching gifts to your donors to encourage them to submit their requests on time.