Billions of dollars are contributed to nonprofits and schools each year through corporate matching gift programs. But these initiatives can do more than offer funding for your institution. If you’re wondering how matching gift appeals can fuel alumni engagement, you’ve come to the right place.
Alumni engagement is critical for colleges, universities, and other educational institutions. After all, most schools seek to build a strong community and foster lifelong relationships with their graduates. Not to mention, a school’s alumni can also be some of its most valuable assets in terms of fundraising and overall financial support.
However, it can sometimes be a challenge to keep alumni connected to your school in the long run.
In order to inspire alumni giving, strengthen relationships with your institution’s former student base, and deepen connections to your overall cause, we recommend incorporating matching gift appeals into your strategy.
In this guide, we’ll provide ample insights that can be used to integrate employee gift-matching and alumni relations for optimal results. And we’ll do so by exploring the following topics:
Eager to learn more? Let’s dive in!
Benefits of Matching Gift Appeals for Alumni Engagement
Matching gift appeals are an excellent way to connect (and reconnect) with alumni and drive engagement with your school. Tens of thousands of companies agree to match employee donations to their favorite charitable causes—often including educational institutions.
However, the opportunity is often underutilized, with only a fraction of qualifying donors going on to submit their matching gift requests. That’s where well-written appeals can come in, promoting matching gift information and ultimately leading to increased philanthropic support for institutions like yours.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most valuable benefits of matching gift appeals on your alumni engagement strategy.
Elevated gift conversion rates
One significant (yet often overlooked) advantage of matching gift appeals is their ability to drive elevated gift conversion rates. In fact, recent studies show that over 84% of individuals indicated that they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered. As a result, incorporating matching gifts in an organization’s fundraising appeals results in an average 71% increase in response rate.
Increased donation amounts
Moreover, matching gift appeals have been shown to also increase the average donation amounts an organization receives, as supporters are typically motivated to give more when they know their gifts will be doubled. 1 in 3 donors indicates they’d give a larger gift if matching is applied, and highlighting the opportunity in matching gift appeals before a donation is made leads to 51% growth in average gift size.
This can also be an effective way to push alumni donors into the next giving tier. For example, an alumnus who typically gives $100 may be inspired to give $200 in response to a matching gift appeal—thereby increasing their giving level and the impact of their contribution. And that’s before their employee even makes their match!
Heightened likelihood of match eligibility
Another reason why you want to incorporate matching gift appeals in your overall engagement strategy is that your alumni may be increasingly likely to qualify for such programs in the first place.
After all, young alumni, in particular, often work for companies that match employee gifts. Tens of thousands of businesses (including 65% of the Fortune 500) agree to match donations to nonprofits and educational institutions, with tech companies being one of the most involved sectors overall.
This presents a unique opportunity for institutions to engage with this demographic and inspire them to give by highlighting this additional incentive.
Maximized supporter impact + strengthened alumni relations
Matching gifts effectively double individual contributions, empowering alumni donors to make twice the impact on their alma mater. When this group sees their gifts being matched, they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that their contribution is making an even greater, tangible difference. This can lead to increased loyalty to the institution and a greater willingness to give in the future.
Expanded corporate giving revenue
One of the most apparent benefits of matching gift appeals is the additional corporate revenue contributed as a result. Impactful and actionable match appeals drive more matching gift requests to completion, ultimately leading to a significant increase in match revenue overall.
Not to mention, a well-built-out matching gift strategy can also open doors for broader corporate partnership opportunities. Companies that match gifts have already proven to be charitable-minded in nature. And targeting your donors’ employers is a great way to communicate shared values and audiences in your next sponsorship pitch.
How to Drive Alumni Engagement with Matching Gift Appeals
Whether you’re looking to launch an alumni matching gift campaign for the first time or are seeking to improve your existing efforts, we’re here to help. These fundamental steps will provide valuable insights and strategies to help your team maximize alumni engagement, giving, and more.
Identify potential match-eligible alumni.
One of the first things you’ll need to drive alumni engagement with matching gift appeals involves identifying those of your alumni that qualify for the corporate giving programs. And to do so, you’ll need to know which companies your alumni are working for.
Your school may already track this information in your CRM. But if not (or for those who you don’t have post-education employment records for), there are a few ways you can uncover this detail. Not to mention, employment data can go out of date fairly quickly, so it’s important to continually refresh this information for your alumni and other supporters.
- Adding an optional employment field to your online donation form.
- Scanning contact information for corporate email domains.
- Leveraging a matching gift company search tool in post-transaction messaging (i.e., confirmation screens, follow-up emails, etc.).
- Employing a third-party data appends service.
Keep in mind that the benefits of alumni employment data go far beyond that of matching gift appeals, too! Understanding where graduates end up after leaving your school can also aid in personalizing communications, estimating wealth levels, and more.
Educate your audience about matching gifts.
Another important step is to educate your audience about matching gifts. Without incorporating strategic methods for increasing awareness of the programs, there’s a significant knowledge gap regarding matching gifts. In fact, the aforementioned studies indicate that over 78% of individuals have never been informed about their companies’ matching gift programs.
The solution? Crafting a comprehensive plan for promoting the opportunity yourself.
Specifically, we recommend…
- Mentioning matching gifts in all of your school’s fundraising appeals.
- Establishing a dedicated matching gift web page on your school website (if you don’t already have one), complete with matching gift details, your company search tool, and helpful contact information for your institution.
- Incorporating matching gift information directly within your donation experience (within your online giving forms, on the confirmation screens, etc.).
- Highlighting matching gift information (and relevant imagery) on your school’s social media pages.
- Producing and sharing educational matching gift videos that overview the programs and how to get involved.
- Considering direct mail materials such as postcards, inserts, printed envelopes, and more for your most lucrative donors and prospects.
In all of your favorite channels, be sure to provide clear and concise information about how matching gifts work—and how they can increase the impact of donations to your school. Once aware of the programs, alumni will be increasingly inspired to participate in their employers’ giving initiatives on your institution’s behalf, ultimately driving completed matches through the roof.
Incorporate various matching gift appeals in your messaging.
There’s no one way to integrate matching gift appeals into your institution’s fundraising strategy. The possibilities are endless, and we recommend exploring matching gifts as a key tenet of all essential engagement activities.
For example, you may decide to implement matching gift promotions throughout the donor journey year-round. This can come in handy when looking to drive support for your general operating fund at any point, using matching gift appeals to encourage growth in individual giving and corporate funding alike.
However, many schools also choose to host a dedicated matching gifts campaign alongside their academic giving days to collect even more during that limited time span. (Note: several institutions have reported raising multiple times the cost of their matching gift software on their Giving Days alone—allowing them to see a return on their investment almost immediately.)
The good news is that it’s not an either/or question; in fact, the recommended answer is both. You can market matching gifts to your alumni and other donors 365 days a year—made easy with the right technology—and institute an elevated push for matching at the time of a specific campaign. When it comes to matching gift outreach, the more, the merrier!
Best Practices for Effective Alumni-Centric Matching Gift Appeals
Bring your matching gift appeals to the next level! We recommend the following tried-and-true practices for streamlining the process while also amplifying alumni matching gift results.
Start with a well-crafted appeal template.
Your matching gift appeals should be well-written, concise, and compelling to grab—and retain—the attention of your alumni audience. Make sure to clearly explain what matching gifts are, the impact of employee donation-matching opportunities, and how corporate funding will be used to benefit your school.
You can jump right into it with the free matching gift templates found here. Just be sure to finetune and personalize these sample appeals to best fit your institution’s needs, goals, and audiences.
Set clear and attainable goals.
Before launching your matching gift campaign, establish clear goals regarding matched gifts, total corporate funding, and more. We always recommend defining your objectives using the SMART framework—or setting goals that are…
For example, you might state that you aim to collect $5,000 worth of corporate matching gifts from alumni donors by the end of the fiscal year.
Be sure your development team is aware of and on board with your goals, and begin taking steps toward achieving them!
Make it easy for alumni to donate and request matches.
In order to drive the most gifts and matches to completion, it’s crucial that the associated processes are as quick and easy as possible.
Our recommendation? Make the most of intuitive donation tools—such as these top education-focused platforms—that seamlessly integrate with powerful matching gift software.
This way, you can…
- Collect employment details within your online giving forms;
- Automatically screen for match-eligible donations;
- Provide company-specific guidelines, instructions, and links to digital submission forms.
By guiding alumni donors through the matching gift process, you’ll reduce critical roadblocks and ultimately receive more fulfilled matches.
On the other hand, an experience that is primarily donor-led (i.e., asking alumni to get in touch with their HR department to locate their matching gift instructions) is likely to result in a ton of matches going unclaimed and corporate funding being left on the table.
Follow up and show appreciation.
Your matching gift donors are likely some of your school’s most dedicated supporters. When alumni participate in these programs, it’s essential that you promptly acknowledge their above-and-beyond efforts for your institution.
Throughout the donor journey, there are a few fundamental phases in which gratitude should be incorporated. These include:
- After receiving an initial donation — “Thanks, [Donor]! We’ve received your recent gift—and it’s because of dedicated alumni like yourself that our school is able to be what it is today. Did you know that you might be able to double your impact with a corporate matching gift? Click here to learn more and submit your match request [link to matching gift page].”
- After a match has been submitted — “Our records indicate that you requested a corporate matching gift from [company]. Thank you greatly for taking this next step to amplify your giving impact on our institution. Feel free to reach out if there’s anything we can do to help complete the matching process with your employer.”
- After a match has been received — “[Donor], we are writing today to inform you that we’ve received the completed match from your employer. Once again, we thank you for taking the extra steps to submit your matching gift. We truly appreciate your ongoing support to [school]. We couldn’t do it without you!”
Effectively communicating your gratitude throughout the process is a surefire way to reiterate the importance of donation-matching. And ultimately, it increases the likelihood that match-eligible alumni ultimately give and get their gifts matched time and time again.
Though corporate matches do not come directly from an individual donor’s wallet, remember that the additional funding would not be possible without their involvement.
Idea: send an eCard to thank alumni for partaking in matching gift programs on your behalf!
Employ automation to increase efficiency.
Our final tip is one that can help boost the results of our other recommended practices as well—from increasing awareness of the programs to following up on eligible matches. And that is equipping your fundraising team with smart automation technology.
After all, launching a matching gifts campaign on your own can be overwhelming. But when you employ automation, you can do more for your school with less time and resources. Not to mention, leveraging a matching gift automation tool (like 360MatchPro) grows matching gift revenue for nonprofits by an average of 61%!
And the time you save triggering automated matching gift appeals—with just a click of a button—can be reallocated to other critical projects that benefit your school.
Example Schools with Successful Alumni Matching Gift Appeals
Establishing an effective matching gift appeal strategy that resonates with your alumni doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s take a look at a few schools that implemented matching gift appeals and produced significant results.
Get inspired by these institutions’ fundraising efforts—and take note of any tactics you’d like to employ in your own.
Marietta College is an excellent example of a higher education institution that employs matching gift appeals successfully throughout its efforts.
To begin, check out this college’s dedicated matching gifts page:
You’ll note that this page incorporates a brief summary of corporate matching gift programs, has embedded an easy-to-use company search tool for individuals to uncover eligibility information, and is easily accessible from the site’s Giving Opportunities menu.
Marietta College has also crafted an alumni-specific web page designed to target previous students looking to give back to the school. And the site mentions matching gift opportunities here, as well!
Throughout their range of matching gift appeals, which included online giving forms, post-transaction emails, and more, in addition to the website content seen above, Marietta College produced standout results to be inspired by.
Read the case study here to learn more.
University of Georgia
Next, we have the University of Georgia, which also offers a robust matching gift strategy that aims to engage alumni donors and other school supporters alike.
This school’s matching gift page employs Double the Donation’s matching gift tool, allowing interested donors to quickly research their companies’ program guidelines. The University of Georgia also uses this page to promote a unique incentive for donors to get their gifts matched—driving individual giving levels to qualify for the exclusive Presidents Club!
Additionally, the UGA team has consistently leveraged its social media platforms to raise awareness of matching gift opportunities. Check out these posts they’ve shared on Twitter, Facebook, and more.
And, all in all, the university has seen some pretty substantial results!
Read the case study here to learn more.
Similarly, Syracuse University also incorporates matching gift appeals in its alumni and overall donor engagement strategies. From its dedicated match page pictured below to its personalized and automated matching gift email communications, the Syracuse team works hard to ensure all supporters are exposed to information about matching gift programs—and are encouraged to take the next steps.
In addition to its matching gifts page, Syracuse University has also created a free giving toolkit for alumni and other university donors interested in getting involved. This toolkit provides detailed information about online giving, contributing from donor-advised funds, beneficiary designations, and, of course, corporate matching gifts.
The bottom line is that Syracuse University has seen a lot of success with its matching gift appeals—inspiring alumni and donor engagement, driving awareness of matching opportunities, and more.
Read the case study here to learn more.
Matching gift appeals can be a powerful tool for educational institutions seeking to increase alumni engagement and philanthropic support. By leveraging your alumni’s generosity alongside that of companies matching contributions to your school, institutions like yours can encourage more significant levels of giving while also fostering a sense of community among graduates.
This type of strategic outreach can also serve as a smart way to reconnect with alumni who may have lost touch with their alma mater, providing them with a compelling reason to get involved once again. By making it easy for alumni to give back and amplify their support, academic fundraisers can help ensure continued success and maximized impact for years to come.
And there’s no better time to incorporate matching gift appeals in your alumni engagement strategy than the present. Best of luck!
Looking to continue your education on matching gift topics to best position your school for corporate fundraising success? Check out these recommended resources: