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March 13, 2015

Four Strategies for Matching Gift Success for Your School or Nonprofit

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Everyone notices that ill-advised tattoo you got in high school for your nonprofit-obsessed girlfriend. You know, the Latin quote on your left forearm, written in fancy cursive, that translates to, “She who matches gifts wins.” Or is that just me? Either way, marketing matching gifts online is just like a conspicuous tattoo: the ink only takes up a small portion of your skin, but it grabs everyone’s attention.

Proper matching gift marketing requires several tattoos on many body parts, such as matching gift requests on your emails, calls-to-action on your social media profiles, and asks on your donation page. This means incorporating matching gift requests throughout your online presence. In the grand scheme of things, this marketing effort will equate to one noticeable tattoo, and not sleeves of ink that distract from your nonprofit’s primary skin.

1) Email

I’ve always thought that a great punishment for undisciplined children would be to make them count, one by one, how many emails I receive in a single day. Email is not torture, but your message is one of hundreds of daily messages, so your matching gift request needs to stand out among a blur of information. We’re going to focus on acknowledgement letters and newsletters, as they demonstrate two important strategies for soliciting matching gifts through email.

Acknowledgement Letters

As with a stranger holding open a door for you, all donations require a proper thank you. Along with your thanks, you have the opportunity to ask for a matching gift. However, don’t rush to the ask, because, as with thanking door holders, you have to hold the thank you long enough to earn the benefits of gratefulness.

While the acknowledgement letter presents the opportunity to ask for matching gifts, the core of the message is gratefulness. Earn the call-to-action to submit a matching gift with your gratitude. You can include two links, one hyperlink and one clickable graphic, for donors to click to discover if their employer matches gifts by taking donors to their dedicated matching gift page.

One might call this killing two birds with one stone, but I like to call it feeding two birds with one email. You’re plumping up your donor’s happiness with a thank you and hopefully adding necessary funds to your wallet.

Newsletters

You can have a dedicated newsletter that focuses exclusively on matching gifts to increase awareness for corporate giving programs. But, your nonprofit likely has other topics to share in its newsletters, too. As you plan your nonprofit’s content strategy, make sure you’re finding ways to include requests for matching gifts.

The National Kidney Foundation provides a nice newsletter template: 

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The newsletter’s focus is split between the kidney walk and matching gifts. Not all of your newsletters need to revolve around matching gifts, even in this split capacity, but the occasional message that details what matching gifts are and how to submit them will go a long way to increasing donations. Sometimes it’s necessary to provide detailed matching gift information in the email, but, for the times when you need to discuss other topics but still want to ask for matching gifts, there’s a graphic for that.

When supporters click on the links, they’re taken to the National Kidney Foundation’s dedicated matching gift page. The page includes an overview of matching gifts, key information such as a mailing address for forms and the organizations Tax-ID or EIN #, answers to frequently asked questions, and a way for donors to find details on corporate matching gift programs. That way, their bases are covered in terms of sharing information on the dedicated page and not dedicating an entire newsletter to the details of matching gifts. 

2) Social Media

Sometimes I compare how many friends I have on the internet to how many I have in real life and, while I wonder if it’s appropriate to ask random people in-person to be my friend, I recognize that the internet provides a prime opportunity to pitch matching gifts to everyone and their mother. There may be more social networks than characters in this article, so we’re going to focus on the channels with the greatest reach: Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook

With no character limitations, Facebook provides the versatility to provide in-depth explanations of matching gifts and how to submit them, as well as the ability to include conspicuous images or relevant videos. You can get creative with your posts, and there are a ton of ways to tell your nonprofit’s story. We’re going to run through the basics as they pertain to matching gifts.

Facebook post from CMTA: 

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In a mere six lines, CMTA provides a link to discover if an employer provides matching gifts and discusses the benefits of these additional donations. To grab attention, the post uses a palatable picture. You don’t need an image in every matching gift post, but a call-to-action and a link to a dedicated matching gift page are the bare minimums. There’s nothing not to love here, unless you’re picky about your ice cream.

Twitter

140-characters really cramps my style when I’m trying to rant about how submitting matching gifts online requires a mere five minutes that will not throw off your schedule such that you lose time to peruse the rest of your Twitter feed for today’s most adorable cat pictures.

Deep breath.

Despite the lack of post versatility, as compared to Facebook, Twitter provides sufficient room for an authoritative matching gift ask: 

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You don’t have the room to explain what matching gifts are or their specific benefits, but you have plenty of space to do what the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation does: ask the donor to click a link to double their donation (and go to a dedicated matching gift page). Twitter might not allow you to explain matching gifts up front, but the beauty of this platform is its minimalism, which lets you get donors to step through the matching gift doorway.

3) Dedicated Matching Gift Page 

I keep mentioning dedicated matching gift pages, but what is this voodoo magic? Legend has it that dedicated matching gift pages are collections of pixels on your website that both educate your donors about matching gifts and make it simple for donors to search and discover if their employer offers such a program. Sometimes, as in this case, legends are true. 

On a matching gift page, you should define matching gifts, detail their benefits, and inform donors about matching gift programs. The page can be this simple, as the basic idea is to create a landing page where donors can discover if their donations can go twice as far.

You can include:

  • Matching gift statistics
  • Links to relevant websites
  • Numbers on how much money matching gifts raised for your nonprofit last year
  • A list of companies who donated through matching programs last year

You could even go a step further and add a widget to aggregate this information. Creating a dedicated matching gift page does not need to be a hassle, and it will increase your effectiveness at landing matching gifts.

4) In the Donation Process

It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out that a prime time to ask for matching gifts is when donors are making their donations. The idea is to present information such that your website says, “Hey, look at you being awesome and donating money to a great cause. While you’re at it, why not give twice as much without shelling out additional money from your own pocket? Matching gifts only take five minutes!”

Your opportunities to solicit in-the-moment donors are on the donation page and on the confirmation screen, which equates to if at first you don’t succeed (on the donation page), try, try again (on the confirmation screen). 

Donation Page

The simple plan is to include a link, a graphic or text, to your dedicated matching gift page. You can include a simple link on your donation form, or alternatively you can include matching gift informaiton on the credit card form, so you don't have to leave the donation page. This is la crème de la crème of donation page options. What’s necessary is to include some reminder and a call to action about matching gifts.

For nonprofits on a budget, simply including matching gift information can provide a boost in donations. Urge people to check with their HR reps to find out if their employer matches gifts. Share pertinent matching gift statistics, such as how much money you raised from doubled donations during the previous year. Provide a link to a dedicated matching gift page which features information on or a list of top matching gift companies. Your approach doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to call attention to matching gifts.

Confirmation Screen

Afraid some donors might overlook that beautiful matching gift link on your donation page? That’s why the internet created confirmation screens. Everyone deserves a second chance.

First and foremost, exert good manners and give thanks for the generous donation. Then, of course, since money feeds your nonprofit, ask for seconds so that you can sustain yourself a while longer. The ask for matching gifts should come across as a suggestion, as the donor just gave money and is likely in a willing state of mind to give more. Provide a matching gift search box to make the process easy, and soon you’ll be feasting on twice as much green as before. Green because you’re a healthy nonprofit who eats its vegetables!

Successful matching gift marketing requires dedication to presenting the program across the breadth of your online presence. It will take time and effort, but the more you put the option of matching gifts in front of donors, the more gifts you’ll receive, and your efforts will more than pay off. Then you can get a sweet tattoo to celebrate.

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Topics: Nonprofit Education

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