Don’t leave money on the sidewalk: A closer look at matching gift programs

Imagine you are walking down the street, and you find a $50 bill lying on the sidewalk.

You pick it up, and prior to pocketing it, you check to see if anyone is around. You most certainly won’t leave it on the sidewalk.

Every year, charities leave $6 to $10 billion on the sidewalk. The source of this missed funding? Unclaimed matching gifts.  

According to Double the Donation, 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, and over 18 million people work for companies with matching gift programs. The median participation rate of employees who participated in matching gifts programs in 2016 was 7%.

Not only do corporations offer this program as a benefit, but employees also request the opportunity to give back. More and more research demonstrates employees’ desires to participate in CSR efforts through the workplace.

The existence of these programs indicates that employers are willing to place their corporate dollars into the hands of their employees. Companies and charities have an incredible opportunity to develop workplace giving campaigns together that meet the charitable desires of current and future employees.

We all know that charities and CSR departments work with limited resources and limited staff; therefore, it can be difficult to stay on top of promoting corporate matching gift programs.

Take advantage of matching gift programs

We’ve developed a few tips for charities and for-profit companies in order to maximize the effectiveness of their matching gift programs:

For charities…

  • Collect employment data from your donors. Once you know where your donors work, you can collect information on their matching gift program. Does their employer offer a program? Are your donors taking advantage of the program?
  • Network with the local companies in your neighborhood. Both small and large companies alike are developing matching gift programs as a way to attract and retain employees. Reach out to them and schedule a lunch and learn so that their employees can get to know your mission and vision.
  • Determine a list of other companies beyond your local region that offer matching gift programs. Use a service such as Double the Donation.

For companies…

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. In the daily hustle of life, it is easy for employees to forget about the benefits that their employers offer them. Find out where your employees “hang out” either online or in person and post reminders about your matching gift program. Place posters in lunchrooms or bathrooms, utilize your employee giving software to place popup reminders, or post announcements on your intranet.
  • Offer your employees choice! An America’s Charities study found that employee participation increases when the workplace giving campaign features a group of charities or the option to donate to whichever charity the employee chooses.
  • Make it relevant! Tie in current holidays and themes to encourage participation! Since June is Men’s Health Month, develop a matching gift campaign that demonstrates the importance of good health and mention several charities that support men’s health and wellness.

It’s time that we stop leaving money on the sidewalk! Charities and corporate groups alike will reap substantial benefits by participating in matching gift programs.