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The complete year-end guide to maximizing matching gifts

July 31, 2023
Two nonprofit professionals sit at a desk, discussing and taking notes on their year-end matching gifts strategy.

For nonprofit organizations, the final few months of the year are a critical time for fundraising. With 30% of all annual giving occurring in December, donors tend to be more generous at year-end, leading many nonprofit fundraisers to refer to this period as the year-end giving season.

When it comes to reaching your nonprofit’s end-of-year fundraising goals, one way to level up your efforts is to develop a thoughtful matching gift strategy.

Understanding matching gifts

Matching gifts are a type of corporate philanthropy where companies pledge to match their employees’ donations to eligible nonprofits. This empowers qualifying donors to double the impact of each dollar they give, ultimately enabling nonprofits to do more with the funds they raise.

Plenty of companies offer these generous giving initiatives⁠—from 67% of the Fortune 500 (including Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, and Walt Disney) to your local mom-and-pop shop down the road.

Here’s how it works: After an individual donates to a nonprofit, they check their matching gift eligibility with their employer. Upon establishing that they qualify for a match, they complete a brief, typically online request form. If approved, the company sends an equal⁠—or sometimes greater⁠—contribution to the organization. In the end, the nonprofit receives two gifts for the cost of soliciting one!

The value of matching gifts in year-end fundraising

The year-end season, combined with matching gifts, creates a powerful opportunity with many benefits for nonprofit fundraisers. By promoting matching gifts during the year-end season, nonprofits can:

  • Leverage the year-end giving spirit. Aside from the boost of generosity that happens at year-end, just knowing their contributions have double the impact drives many nonprofit supporters to give⁠—and to give in larger amounts. In fact, Double the Donation's research finds that mentioning matching gifts results in a 71% increase in response rate and a 51% increase in average donation amount.
  • Maximize corporate philanthropy funding. Matching gift programs are widely available but rely on individual donors to complete a dedicated request process to secure the funding. Since many donations remain eligible for matching until the end of the calendar year, marketing year-end matching gifts empowers nonprofits to make the most of recent and past donors’ generosity and secure additional funding.

This graph, with matching gifts on its x-axis and year-end fundraising on its y-axis, shows how year-end matching gifts increase funding.

By leveraging matching gifts during a time already characterized by generosity, your nonprofit can attract more donors, boost its fundraising totals, and achieve its goals more effectively⁠ and efficiently⁠ than ever before.

Best practices for maximizing matching gifts at year-end

Despite their benefits, matching gifts are an underutilized nonprofit funding source. To make the most of the opportunity this year, create a well-thought-out strategy. Try these proven tips and tricks:

1. Spread awareness of matching gifts throughout the year.

Millions of donors qualify for matching gifts, but the vast majority of this group (an estimated 78%) are unaware of the opportunity. Plus, once they learn of matching gifts, they may have questions about how the process works. By proactively market matching gifts throughout the year, your nonprofit can⁠ bridge this knowledge gap and drive donor participation come giving season.

An example of a nonprofit social media post with an image of two kittens and text urging viewers to check their matching gift eligibility.

To maximize your results, implement a multi-channel engagement strategy that meets donors where they are. This may include a combination of email marketing, social media posts, direct mail, and your nonprofit’s website.

2. Equip your staff with dedicated tools before year-end.

The end-of-year giving season is generally a very busy time for nonprofit professionals. That’s why automating the matching gift process can be a game-changer⁠⁠—and why your team should build out your giving season toolkit with matching gift technology in advance.

A screenshot of the gray and green Double the Donation dashboard showing matching gift data.

Double the Donation’s matching gift solution can integrate with donor management platforms so that your donation forms capture matching gift eligibility information when supporters fill them out. This allows you to integrate matching gifts directly into your fundraising processes—identifying, following up with, and tracking eligible matches without lifting a finger.

3. Follow up on match-eligible donations.

Many companies have match deadlines that align with the end of the calendar year. That means the last few weeks in December are often the last chance for nonprofits and donors to follow up on unclaimed matches.

An example of a year-end matching gift follow-up email from the Cat Rescue Club, asking a donor to submit a matching gift request.

By sending reminders to submit a matching gift request, you’ll be able to engage with existing donors without requesting another gift, deepening your donor relationships beyond transactional. This approach also empowers donors to show continued support for the causes they care about without having to reach back into their wallets to do so.

4. Recognize your year-end matching gift donors.

Expressing appreciation to your matching gift donors allows you to strengthen your relationships with them and retain their support⁠ for the long term. For the best results, we recommend thanking matching gift donors in two key circumstances:

  • After they indicate they’ve submitted their requests
  • Once your team receives the completed match funding

Furthermore, publicly acknowledging matching gift donors can not only make them feel especially valued for their contributions, but it can also inspire others to follow suit.

Making the most of year-end matching gifts

The year-end giving season represents a golden opportunity for nonprofits to maximize their fundraising results through corporate giving programs. By following these best practices, your organization can harness the full potential of matching gifts and make a lasting impact on your fundraising and engagement efforts.

Want to set your year-end fundraising up for success? Download our free year-end fundraising timeline to access more expert advice for meeting and exceeding your year-end goals.

This article is a contribution from our friends at Double the Donation.

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