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Imagine receiving a donation and having the amount magically double. That’s what matching gifts are all about.

A matching gift is when your donor’s employer matches their donation to your organization. Typically, the donation is matched one-to-one. So if your donor sends you $100, the employer matches that by sending you another $100. Larger companies typically have matching gift programs as a way to encourage charitable giving and to broaden the company’s social responsibility and corporate philanthropy. Some may even double or triple the employee’s donation.

In short, it’s easy, unrestricted cash.

And this easy, unrestricted cash goes unclaimed all too often. According to a recent estimate by Double the Donation, as much as ten billion dollars in matching gift funds go unclaimed each year.

Thankfully, collecting matching gifts can be done easily enough with just a little extra legwork on the part of you and your donor.

1 | Let people know it’s an option.

First off, you’ll want to be sure that your donors are aware of whether or not matching gifts are an option. A simple statement about matching gifts on your website’s donation page can encourage them to check. Something such as ”Many companies match their employee’s gift to our organization. Be sure to ask your employer if your gift can be matched” will work fine. Not all companies match donations, but a simple statement like this will prompt your donor to find out if their employer does match their donations. If so, move on to Step #2.

(A little shortcut: You can search for companies that have matching gift programs at Double the Donation’s free Giving Tuesday tool here.

2 | Check your organization’s eligibility.

Whether your organization is eligible for a matching gift varies from company to company. While there is no one-size-fits-all for this, you will almost always need to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. If you are, you may already automatically qualify for a matching gift or the company may need a little extra information from you to verify your eligibility. Your donor should take the lead in asking their company to verify your eligibility and the company may reach out to you directly with specific questions about your mission and programming.

You’ll also want to note a few details at this time. Check on how much of the gift the company will match, if there is a minimum or maximum donation amount that the company will match and if there is a deadline to submit a matching gift request.

3 | How it works from there.

Your donor makes a gift to your organization. Your donor then asks their company to match it by submitting a matching gift request to the company. This is usually done through the company’s human resources department. The company will then send you a donation verification form fill out and return to them. This is just to confirm that you received the donor’s donation, along with the date you received it and the donation amount. Some companies may send this in the mail to you while others will email you to verify the donation at the company’s online portal. Then the company sends you the matching gift check. Simple enough!

4 | Send a thank you note.

Finally, you’ll want to send a thank you letter to both the company and the original donor!

If this has been helpful to you, please consider making a donation! Your contribution is deeply appreciated and supports all of the free programming at Open Rivers.

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