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Recurring Donors & Matching Gifts: 5 Expert Practices

7 min read
May 01, 2024
Adam Weinger headshot
Adam Weinger
President, Double the Donation

In the world of nonprofit fundraising, two strategies stand out as key opportunities for maximizing impact: recurring donations and matching gifts.

Recurring donations, which are characterized by donors initiating regularly scheduled contributions, improve financial planning and enhance nonprofit sustainability. On the other hand, matching gifts are defined by programs where companies match employees’ charitable donations and provide an opportunity to multiply the impact of individual generosity.

But what happens when these two strategies intersect? The result is a compounded approach that amplifies the impact of each dollar received to unlock new levels of fundraising success. In this guide, we’ll share five tried-and-true strategies for making the most of recurring and matching gifts together.

These include:

  1. Informing your audience about matching gift opportunities
  2. Familiarizing yourself with companies’ match program guidelines
  3. Mentioning matching gift opportunities in recurring gift appeals
  4. Marketing matching gifts within the initial online donation process
  5. Encouraging recurring donors to batch their matching gift requests

Your supporters love seeing the impact of their donated dollars, and each of these practices empowers individuals to make their contributions go even further. To dive in and see how your team can benefit, let’s get started with the basics.

1. Inform Your Audience About Matching Gift Opportunities

In order to maximize the number of recurring gifts matched by your donors’ employers for your cause, it’s important that you begin with a certain baseline of knowledge. Currently, there’s a significant awareness gap when it comes to matching gifts, and it’s one of the leading reasons why eligible donations ultimately go unclaimed.

Fortunately, the best way to increase matching gift knowledge is through strategic matching gift marketing. While your specific promotional plan should vary based on your audience’s unique preferences and habits, these efforts can be conducted through a combination of targeted communication channels such as…

  • Email newsletters and signatures
  • Comprehensive website content
  • Social media posts
  • Phone calls and text blasts
  • And more!

In doing so, your team can effectively inform its audience about matching gift opportunities by sharing educational materials—and emphasizing how donors can multiply their recurring donations without reaching back into their own wallets. 

While you’ll want to promote matching gifts to all donors, it’s a good idea to share tailored content with your recurring donor segment in particular.

2. Familiarize Yourself With Companies’ Match Program Guidelines

Each company that matches employee gifts first establishes guidelines that define the types of employees, nonprofits, and transactions that qualify for corporate funding. Common program criteria include minimum and maximum donation amounts, nonprofit mission categories, submission deadlines, and request forms.

These materials also typically provide information on recurring donations’ eligibility and submission formats. However, if recurring donations are not mentioned, it can generally be assumed that they’ll qualify, assuming the gift adheres to the other provided criteria.

Here’s what a few companies have included in their guidelines about recurring gifts:

  • CSX ⁠— “Donations can be one-time or recurring, and several charitable organizations can be supported at one time.”
  • Ingram ⁠— “Please provide the date of donation or last recurring contribution. For recurring donations, please bundle more than one donation per request.”
  • LG Ads ⁠— “Click the ‘Per paycheck’ option for recurring donations. Any pending or recurring matching donations will be halted once the company-wide limit is reached.”

Top tip: The easiest way to locate a company’s matching gift criteria is to enlist the help of a matching gift database like Double the Donation. This way, with a quick search, you and your donors can uncover the information you need to determine recurring gifts’ eligibility and initiate next steps.

3. Mention Matching Gift Opportunities In Recurring Gift Appeals

One of the best ways to ramp up your organization’s recurring giving strategy is by sending dedicated recurring gift appeals. The good news is that, like any fundraising or donation request, the availability of a matching gift can significantly increase supporters’ likelihood of getting involved. In fact, recent research indicates that highlighting matching gifts in fundraising appeals produces a 71% increase in response rate and a 51% increase in gift size.

Incorporating matching gift information into fundraising communications empowers nonprofits to educate donors about the chance to leverage corporate philanthropy in exciting and impactful ways. And it ultimately drives increased participation in matching gift programs and maximizes fundraising revenue, too.

By emphasizing the ability to multiply their contributions through matching gifts, nonprofits motivate donors to make a greater financial commitment to support the organization’s mission on an ongoing basis.

Consider the following sample appeal: “By becoming a regular recurring donor, you can make an even greater difference in our mission every month. Many companies even offer matching gift programs, which means your monthly contribution could be doubled or tripled by your employer. That means your gift will make an even bigger impact!”

4. Market Matching Gifts Within the Initial Online Donation Process

Donors are typically at the height of their engagement with your organization while actively making a donation. That means that, when optimized, your donation form itself is one of your most invaluable assets for promoting matching gifts to supporters. (This is especially true for recurring donors, who may only access your donation form the first time they give.)

By strategically integrating matching gift messaging into the donation process, your organization can capitalize on existing momentum and drive more matching gifts to completion in an efficient and effective way.

Here’s how we recommend marketing matching gifts throughout the initial recurring donation set-up process:

  1. A donor navigates to your online donation form to initiate a recurring gift.
  2. The individual completes the online form, supplying information about themselves, their intended gift, and their employing company. While an embedded company search tool is best, an optional plain-text field can also be used to collect employer data.
  3. From there, your matching gift tool screens employer data against known matching gift companies to determine the donor’s matching gift eligibility. If you don’t have a matching gift tool, your team can conduct a manual approach to researching qualifying gifts⁠—though this will require a larger investment of time and effort.
  4. After the donor submits their initial donation, they land on your organization’s gift confirmation screen. This page provides additional information about matching gifts and specific steps the donor can take to request a match from their employer.
  5. In the hours or days after the individual initiates their recurring donation, your matching gift tool triggers a personalized email reminder (complete with company guidelines and submission forms) that encourages the recipient to request their match.

By implementing a proactive approach like this, your team can ensure donors are informed about matching gift opportunities from the moment they make their contribution. Then, they’ll be more likely to participate accordingly!

5. Encourage Recurring Donors to Batch Their Matching Gift Requests

According to the matching gift experts at Double the Donation, there are essentially three ways a donor can request a match for a recurring donation⁠—and this is where the process tends to differ between one-time and repeating gifts.

For a recurring donor, the options generally include the following:

  1. A recurring gift donor submits a match request for the expected annual total at the time of initial commitment
  2. A (monthly) recurring gift donor submits a separate matching gift request each month for a total of twelve matching gift requests in a year
  3. A donor waits and submits a single match request (batching multiple donations) once per quarter or year

Although different companies may accept different submission cadences, we recommend pushing for option #3. It’s the most efficient way for donors to complete their requests, for your organization to verify their requests, and for their employers to review, approve, and pay out their requests.

By consolidating multiple donations into a single matching gift request, monthly and other recurring donors can simplify the administrative workload and ensure that their contributions are fully leveraged through corporate matching gifts.

Overall, recurring donations and matching gifts have each emerged as formidable tools for driving revenue and maximizing impact for organizations like yours. When the two strategies are combined using the tactics explored above, your team can benefit from supercharged individual giving, increased corporate philanthropy, and more.

To get started, the #1 thing you can do is ramp up your matching gift promotions to recurring donors and encourage them to get involved. Just think about how your mission will grow!

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