How to Implement Automated Gift Matching at a Nonprofit - Heller Consulting

How to Implement Automated Gift Matching at a Nonprofit

This is a guest blog post from Double the Donation.

Your nonprofit has a mission to serve its constituents and do good in your community. But neither of those outcomes are possible without funding.

That’s why it’s essential that your team uses all of the resources available to bring in more revenue. However, exhausting every resource can be strenuous on your staff, as it takes a lot of time and energy to pursue multiple giving channels.

One of the most beneficial giving channels you can focus on, in this case, is matching gifts. Through matching gift programs, companies match donations made by their employees to nonprofits like yours. This can lead to double the revenue from several donations.

Focusing on matching gifts isn’t enough, though. Looking at it from a higher level, it’s just one more task your team has to tackle. But what if you could make this process easier for your team and significantly boost your fundraising revenue at the same time?

Using automated gift matching, you can.

Rather than putting too much pressure on your team to send personalized outreach and promote matching gifts to donors, automation tools can perform those tasks for them. Going this technological route also eliminates human error and allows your team to focus on serving your mission.

In this article, we’ll start by discussing how nonprofits tend to find matching gifts the manual way, then go into how your team can implement automation tools. Finally, we’ll touch on change management and the benefits of incorporating automated gift matching at your organization.

Let’s get started.

1. Finding matching gifts the manual way.

When nonprofits set out to find matching gift revenue the manual way, this sets up a lot of challenges.

These include:

  • Determining where donors work. This involves asking donors individually, researching where donors work, and even passing the tasks off to assistants or interns. However, you may have thousands of donors to sift through, so in reality, this approach isn’t ideal.
  • Looking up company matching gift programs. While your team can spend time looking up matching gift companies, this process can be extremely tedious, and you likely won’t have most of the information you need about the thousands of different companies.
  • Sending personalized emails. While the personal touch is important, manually sending out personalized emails to donors is time consuming. Each one can take five minutes to write and send, which adds up to blocks of days or weeks.
  • Tracking who takes the next step. Unfortunately, there’s no streamlined way to determine which donors take the next step and submit a matching gift request when tracking this manually.
  • Waiting for matching dollars to come in. Without knowing who’s taking the next step and submitting matching gift requests to their companies, your organization could be left waiting for dollars that may or may not come in.

It’s clear that manually promoting and processing matching gifts can take a lot of time away from your staff, which is a reason many organizations don’t focus their energy on the process much at all. But by incorporating an automation component into your strategy, a lot of these challenges can be avoided.

2. Using automation tools within the donation process.

According to 360MatchPro by Double the Donation’s guide to matching gifts and automation, 78% of match-eligible donors have no idea whether their company offers a matching gift program.

That’s right—one of the biggest issues with matching gifts is a general lack of awareness among donors. As we mentioned, while trying to identify companies that match donations is one step you can take, it’s not always enough alone. 

Contacting every donor about their matching gift eligibility might seem impossible, but it’s not when you implement automated gift matching.

In order to do this, start with the donation process. Donors are at the height of their engagement when they’re giving to your organization. That means using matching gift automation software will help you alert donors to the fact that they may be eligible for a match—right when they donate. 

For example, here are some features you might look for in an automation platform:

  • Ability to make it easier for donors to find matching gift information. Look for an automation platform that offers a search tool that can be embedded into donation pages. This allows donors to search for their employer’s program. By auto-completing company names as they’re typed into the search tool, this makes it even easier to find the correct company.
  • Ability to feature the employer’s matching gift information right away. After capturing a donor’s employer details on the donation page, the platform will run this information against its database of matching gift companies. Then, the platform displays the matching gift information for that specific company immediately following the donation. From there, the donor can go to the forms to submit their match request right then and there.
  • Potential to drive more matches to completion. By using a platform that engages donors about matching gifts when they’re most invested and notifies them that they may be eligible for a match, they’ll be more likely to start and complete the process.

After the donation is completed and the platform has identified employer information, donors can then be further segmented into email streams based on their eligibility.

From there, automation takes this process another step further and helps your team with outreach.

3. Using automation tools in your outreach.

According to Getting Attention’s guide to matching gift best practices, email marketing should absolutely be part of your matching gift strategy.

Using automated email marketing is even more efficient. When email outreach is automated, but still personalized, and offers all the information donors need about their employer’s matching gift program, this can drive up your revenue.

While you can have a choice when it comes to email marketing platforms, the benefits of using a matching gift automation platform is that all of the matching gift company information within its database will be applied to the emails. 

For example, look for a platform that offers segmented email streams like the below:

  • For match-eligible donors: Donors whose companies are in the matching gift database will receive an email encouraging them to submit a match request to their specific employer, offering links to the guidelines and forms they need.
  • For donors with unknown eligibility: Donors will receive an email that explains what matching gifts are and takes them to a database that provides matching gift information and forms for all companies offering the programs. Then, the platform will track and automatically update that information on the donor record. 
  • For ineligible donors: The email will prompt them to check whether their employer or their spouse’s employer offers matching gifts.

Automated email marketing is also important because, according to these statistics, sending matching gift reminder emails within 24 hours of a donation results in a 53% open rate. This is more than twice the average nonprofit open rate, as donors are highly receptive to this information. Essentially, sending emails right after donors give, especially with tailored details about their employer’s program, will encourage them to start the matching gift submission process.

Another benefit of using matching gift automation is the ability to customize the emails to your organization. Look for a platform that allows you to:

  • Customize the emails with your branding, color scheme, logo, etc.
  • Create custom redirect pages to send donors to after they’ve clicked a link or button within your email. 
  • Create email sending limits based on individual email addresses, recurring donors, ineligible donors, gift amounts, and whether they’ve already submitted a match request for that donation.

This helps your nonprofit boost its response rate. Donors will know the emails are coming from your organization because they recognize the branding, and you can also limit the number of emails sent to donors within a given period of time to avoid overwhelming them.

When you implement a new marketing automation strategy like the above, you’ll make it easier on your staff because they won’t need to follow up with every single donor. Instead, they’ll be able to focus their time and efforts on performing other important tasks.

4. Using automation tools to track the status of matching gifts.

While promoting matching gift opportunities during the donation and outreach processes is important, this also means there’s going to be a lot of data to sift through.

The more donations and matching gift submissions that come through, the more information you’ll need to track.

Luckily, automation tools can also help you track data about the donations and matching gifts coming in. 

Be sure to look for an automation platform that allows you to track:

  • Historical match opportunities for a donor, which you can then associate automatically with a future gift
  • Email open rates and click-through rates
  • The status of all matching gift submissions
  • All data in real time

A robust automation platform should allow you to sort all of your matching gift data visually, offer insights and actionable next steps for your team, and automatically add new records from both your online donation forms and your CRM so you can stay on top of the data.

Being able to manage data efficiently makes a huge difference, especially because doing so offers you insights you can leverage over time. The more your team is on top of the matching gift data flowing into your systems, the more efficient you’ll be going forward.

5. Creating a change management plan.

Your staff may be hesitant to embrace automated gift matching at your nonprofit. However, if you revisit the manual matching gift process we discussed at the start of this article, you’ll see that automated gift matching gives your team an opportunity to stop those manual activities and instead take a data-driven approach to personalizing outreach to the top revenue-generating opportunities. 

For example, here’s a scenario your team can focus on once automation has been implemented:

Question: Who are the donors who gave $2,500+ that are match eligible, but don’t seem to have submitted their match request yet?

Solution: Now staff members can reach out to them to assist with their match requests, rather than researching and sending out one-off emails to donors who gave less than $50.

When staff members have more time to focus on high-value opportunities, that becomes a more effective use of their time, talents, and energy.

When it comes to change management, you can get your staff onboard with automated gift matching by showing them how it simplifies finding matching gifts during the donation, outreach, and reporting processes. Using an intuitive automation platform that’s easy to navigate will also ensure your team is comfortable with the transition. 

When you implement automated gift matching at your nonprofit, you’re giving your team back the time they would have devoted to coordinating matching gift emails, walking donors through various submission processes, and tracking all of the data that came with it. But using robust platforms that are easy to train your staff on can make all the difference.

Hopefully these strategies will set your organization on a productive path to implementing automated gift matching.