A How-To Guide for Employee Matching Grant Programs
By Adam Weinger
Billions of dollars in charitable funding are left on the table every year because nonprofit organizations around the world are not taking full advantage of corporate giving programs.
Corporate giving programs include, but are not limited to, employee matching grant programs in which an employee can apply for a company match to literally double the donation to eligible nonprofits.
Here are some do's and don'ts on how to break into this largely untapped source of funding.
Evaluate your organization's current matching grant status
Create a chart that will allow you to consolidate all of the matching grant information your organization has, making it easier to compare metrics from year to year (or quarter to quarter if you're a relatively large nonprofit).
Include a section on matching grant donations versus total donations in a certain time frame, like the following:
This Year (current)
This Year (Target)
# of matching gifts received
# of total donations from individuals
% of donations matched
$ received from matching gifts
Develop realistic goals
Create a realistic expectation of what your organization will aim to bring in from matching grant donations, as this will help make your next steps clearer. Base this amount on past years totals, but take into consideration the impact that any kind of marketing strategy will have (because that's the next step)!
Market matching grant programs
Do you already have a marketing strategy in place to educate your donors about matching grant programs? If so, evaluate your reach with these materials (is it effective and is it bringing in the dollar amount you were hoping?) If you dont have one, it's time to create one!
Some suggestions for including matching grant information in your marketing materials include, but are not limited to:
Donation appeals (online and offline) #147; Review the current letters and emails that youre sending out to see if there are any locations where you can add matching gift information. Perhaps a line such as Did you know that State Street, Thomson Reuters, and many other Boston companies will match a donation to our organization? Make sure to check with your company and submit the matching grant form.”
Acknowledgement letters - this is one of the most effective places to put information on matching grants because you're already three quarters of the way there. You already received a donation, and because acknowledgement letters tend to serve as the tax-deductible receipt, donors actually read and keep them. This is a great place to educate your donors to the possibility of a matching grant.
Your organization's newsletter or blog #147; Next time you receive a matching grant check spend a few minutes to write about it on your blog. Its an effective way to publicly thank a company (always valuable for building long-term relationships) as well as prompt other donors to think about matching grants.
Social media #147; Schedule posts to promote matching gifts throughout the year. These can be reminders or thank yous whenever a donor submits a matching gift.
Create a timeline
One of the most important organizational tools for tracking all of the above information is by creating a timeline of upcoming tasks and actions. If your organization is new to matching grants, we suggest creating a six-month timeline, including realistic goals on how long it will take to implement new marketing strategies and promote opportunities to your donors.
Our list of don'ts is much shorter because if you follow the above advice, your organization should be well on its way to increasing the sheer number of matching grant requests, as well as the dollar amount of incoming donations.
Keep your donors in the dark about matching grant opportunities!
Take every opportunity you can to educate your donors about matching grant programs. Companies have their own challenges promoting workplace giving programs, so the chances are high that your organization's constituents simply don't know that these programs exist. By educating them and promoting opportunities for donors to increase their donation to a cause they're clearly passionate about, you increase the likelihood of these individuals reaching out to their employers to request donation matches.
Forget to remind your donors at the end of the year to apply for outstanding matching grant donations!
Oftentimes, employers will honor an employee's donation to eligible nonprofit organizations for several months (and even up to a year, in some cases), so take the time at the end of the year to not only thank your donors again for their generous contribution to your cause, but also to remind them (if they haven't already requested a matching donation from their employer) about the potential to double their impact by reaching out to their employer for matching grant funds.
Follow these dos and avoid these donts and youll be on your way to large increases in matching grant funding.
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, a company focused on helping nonprofits increase the amount of money they raise from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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