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Thoughts & Musings

Doubling Down: Securing The Elusive Matching Gift


There are few things a fundraiser loves more than a matching gift!  

In theory, it seems like a no-brainer.  Nonprofits need donations, employers have money to give, and the fundraiser gets two donations for the effort of one.  Everyone's happy!  Seems so simple, right?  Yet matching gift programs still remain one of the most underutilized giving vehicles amongst nonprofits.  So what’s the deal with matching gifts?

For starters  matching gift programs are not that simple after all.  At a minimum, It requires a coordinator at your nonprofit who stays current with evolving matching programs, eligibility criteria, soft crediting rules, tax implications, all while dealing with the dozens if not hundreds of questions that come in from donors and matching organizations.  Some of the most common challenges I see are donors indicating a matching organization on their gift, but the organization’s check never comes in.  Or the opposite, where a check comes in from a matching organization, but no list of who the individual matching donors are.  In both scenarios, neither gift ends up being tracked toward the matching gift program.  And if you can't measure how successful a program is, why invest more time and dollars in promoting it?  It’s no surprise that despite every nonprofit’s aspirations to build out a mature matching gift program, few get it right.

In an article on The Balance, titled “8 Matching Gift Best Practices for Nonprofits”, the authors provide the best framework I’ve seen for a successful matching gift program.  Of the ideas presented, #7 & #8 resonate with me the most - having a robust and reliable database that truly knows how to manage matching giving, and having the ability to report on the success of your program.  Few tools can do this with ease, but Salesforce’s Nonprofit Success Pack is by far one of the best.

Every Account (Organization) record in the system can be designated as a matching gift organization, each with its specific parameters (matching percentage, maximums, minimums, etc.)

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Similarly, any gift that is entered in the system can be flagged as a matching gift with the matching organization associated with it.  By setting these data points, Salesforce allows for a “find and match” utility when the organization’s check comes in that easily allows you to reconcile the organization’s donation with the matching donors and their individual gifts.

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Furthermore, this utility automatically handles the soft crediting and the creation of relationships between the matching organization and the donors for future reference.  By establishing these relationships, targeted marketing can be used to encourage future matching from both donors and the organizations that participate….taking one step closer to making every fundraiser’s dream come true, two gifts for the effort of one!

Despite the rich functionality Salesforce offers, technology alone will not lead to a successful matching gift program.  It takes a clear strategy, the right tools, active oversight, and "monitoring and tweaking" to ensure your program is meeting its goals. 

While many organizations can manage this on their own, others simply do not have the in-house expertise or the bandwidth to take them away from their programmatic work.  This is where OneTenth Consulting can help!  Our services can help you with any one of the components above (planning, implementing, monitoring) or all three.  Let's chat!  Let OneTenth empower your fundraisers and help your nonprofit reach it's full potential!