How to Launch a Matching Gift Program for Your Nonprofit

By | October 6, 2013


Guest Post by Joan Graham

Did you know that on average one in ten donors is matching gift eligible, and that approximately half of the Fortune 500 has matching gift programs? Matching gifts are the perfect opportunity for your donors to double, and sometimes even triple their contribution to your organization.

Matching gift programs are charitable giving programs established by corporations to encourage philanthropy of their employees. When an employee makes a charitable donation to an eligible nonprofit the company will match an equal or greater dollar amount. Simply stated, matching gifts are free money for non-profits.  Over 19,000 companies offer employee matching gift programs. These range from Fortune 100 companies to small privately held companies. The employees of these companies represent the “low hanging fruit” of giving, because if you can find the employees and get them to complete the matching gift process then you will have a significant increase in revenue.

How did matching gift programs get started? The General Electric Foundation created the concept of a corporate matching gift program in 1954 to support employees in their personal philanthropy/charitable giving by providing a 1:1 match. Since then, many companies have started similar programs. The Matching Gifts Program continues to serve as an important element of the GE Foundation portfolio, with gifts matched in 20 12 totaling nearly $38 million.

One of the most important things you can do is create a culture of matching gifts throughout your organization and with your donors.

  • The first step is to clearly define staff roles and responsibilities for matching gift solicitations and fulfillment processes. Have someone designated as the matching gift expert on your team. Ideally this person would stay abreast of current matching gift trends and program strategies and serve as the contact person for your donors to assist them with getting their donation matched.  They should be listed on your web site as the person who can assist donors with matching gift questions.
  • Have a separate tab on your web site under “giving” that clearly explains what a matching gift is and encourages your donors to see if their gift can be matched.
  • Take a more proactive approach towards your donors and provide an online-tool that instantly allows them to verify if their gift can be matched. HEP’s E-Match link is the perfect solution to implementing a proactive web approach to matching gifts. E-Match allows donors and friends to determine the match eligibility of their gift, with “how to” instructions and access to employer-specific match forms.
  • You may even consider adding a FAQ on Matching Gifts to your web site.  James Madison University is just one example of a FAQ that you could use as a reference

In my next post I will describe more steps you can take to increase revenue to your matching gift program. Feel free to post your comments or contact me directly with any questions.


JoanGrahamJoan Graham is Director of Client Relations at HEP Data.  Joan is a graduate of George Mason University. She began her career in the association management field; including eight years with Washington, DC based non-profit organizations. After moving to South Florida with her husband and daughter in 1998, Joan became involved in fundraising and development in the independent school sector.  Besides her development work, Joan is very active in the local community, serving as a volunteer tutor at PACE Center for Girls, PTO Board member at Cardinal Gibbons High School, and volunteer at Women in Distress Program. Joan joined HEP in 2007 and is focused on matching gift resources.  Joan can be reached at