Double (or Triple) the Donation with Matching Gifts Research

In the case of gifts matching, “double dipping” is an acceptable practice.

If you use iWave or any prospect research tool, you have access to millions of wealth, biographic, and philanthropic records to help inform your major gift asks. But if you’re not using the matching gifts feature in your research tool, you could be missing out on hidden opportunities. 

How it works

If you’re not familiar with gift matching, here’s how it works. Let’s say a donor contributes a small gift to your healthcare foundation. But in iWave, you find out the donor’s employer offers a gift matching program with a 1:1 ratio. That means if your donor writes a check of $1000, the company will cut a check for the same amount – and suddenly you have a charitable gift of $2000!

But here’s the catch: not all employees know the details of their company’s matching program, or maybe aren’t even aware a matching program exists! That’s why a quick gift match search in iWave is a necessity. If you discover a great matching program, let your fundraising team know. They can then reach out to the prospective donor and get them involved.

Some nonprofits make the mistake of only looking at major gift donors and neglecting prospects without strong capacity scores. Of course, major gifts should remain your goal when researching and fundraising. But depending on the situation, it might be worth your while to consider prospects and donors who might otherwise be overlooked. In this sense, gift matching research isn’t just for major gift donors. 

Here’s an example

Maybe you are looking for donations from recent alumni for your university or community college. You learn that many of your alumni currently work full- or part-time at Captain Ahab Coffee while applying for other jobs, taking a gap year, beginning a long career in the company, or preparing to enter Master’s programs. Few of these new alumni will have the capacity to contribute major gifts right now. But what about 10 or 20 years from now? If you are looking for loyal, lifelong donors, start cultivating them now – and matching gifts programs are your foot in the door.

A quick search of Captain Ahab Coffee in iWave’s Matching Gifts dataset (brought to you by HEPdata) produces great insight. At a glance, you already know:

  • Full-time and part-time employees are eligible
  • Minimum donation is $20, maximum is $1500 per employee per year
  • Eligible education institutions include colleges and universities, graduate and professional schools, community/junior colleges, technical schools, secondary schools, and elementary schools
  • Company will match gifts to all athletic programs
  • No alumni status is required
  • Donor/employee has a deadline of one year to submit gift to matching program

So if your young donor (a former student-athlete) contributed up to $1500 to her alma mater’s athletic program in 2017, Captain Ahab Coffee would match that gift for a grand total of $3000.  Not bad!


About the author: Ryan McCarvill joined the iWave team in 2016. Ryan enjoys meeting and learning from nonprofit professionals, researching trends in the nonprofit community, and offering strategies for development teams to use iWave’s solutions to meet and exceed their fundraising goals.


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