How to Identify the Right Partner for Employee Matching Gifts Programs

July 27, 2018 Andrew Troup

When an organization creates a matching gift program, whether it be an open, full-year opportunity, a focused match for a giving day like #GivingTuesday or even a chance to further maximize relief efforts during a catastrophic event like Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, or Irma, a critical decision about where their matched funds will go still needs to be made. One option is to direct all funding to a large nonprofit organization like the American Red Cross, Feeding America, Salvation Army, or others that have a broad reach. Increasingly, though, employees are asking to have a voice in their matching programs, wanting their donation and associated match to go to an organization close to home (physically or emotionally). So how can you identify partners for your matching program, which simultaneously meet your employees’ needs while also helping you achieve the goals you have established for your CSR program?

At the core of all cause related partnerships is authentic intent. What nonprofit organization or cause aligns with your brand, values, and goals as an organization? To understand the answer to this question, you’ll need to bring many key stakeholders to the table, including your brand communications expert, your experience leader who has their finger on the pulse of what your customers and employees care about, your internal communications guru who will spread the news both internally and externally, and your CSR professional or team that manages the matching program itself. Once you’ve identified a cause area(s) of interest, you can use publically available data and / or resources such as Guidestar and others to find nonprofits that specialize in addressing that issue(s). If your organization has a large presence in a particular community, consider filtering that list even further so you can direct funds to nonprofits in your local area, where employees can see the impact of the matching program first hand.

Another inexpensive way to explore your employees’ passions, and test what partners resonate the most, is a crowdfunding page. By creating a single program in a crowdfunding platform, you can observe what organizations or cause areas employees respond to best.

Once you’ve found the right partner(s) for your matching program, it is important to also make sure that you have the right technology in place to execute on the planned program. Software should provide an easy way for employees to donate to the causes that mean the most to them while seamlessly validating if their donations are eligible for a match as a part of your giving program(s). A seamless experience sees your employees simply entering their donation in the software (via credit card, payroll deductions, or by logging an offline donation), and seeing if their desired nonprofit recipient is eligible for a match based on the various parameters you have setup for each of your matching programs.

Finally, as you look at the next steps for setting up or revamping your matching gifts program, first, be prepared when your employees come to you asking for potential recipients for a matching program initiative. Keep a list of nonprofits that make sense for your brand, mission and goals. In turn, your organization will not only be strengthening your brand story, you’ll be directing funds towards organizations that you and your employees have identified as key to driving positive impact in certain cause related areas. An excellent example is a matching program in response to disaster relief. If you have a list of local organizations in areas vulnerable to natural disasters before disaster strikes, you’ll be able to direct funds to organizations on the ground and contribute directly to rebuilding in the area. Your organization will be amplifying the impact of your employee original donations versus direct funds to a larger organization that can have a broader reach and tremendous impact yet may not have the local knowledge and expertise that aligns with your employees’ expectations.


Can’t get enough background on successful partnerships in the private and social sectors? Join Blackbaud and Social Impact on August 1st to learn about the latest trends in cause partnerships, and what characteristics make up the best-in-class partnerships between corporations and nonprofits. Register here!

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