What is a Matching Gift? 6 Key Questions Answered
Picture this, you have two options:
- Option 1: You donate $500 to your favorite charity. They receive a $500 check for your contribution.
- Option 2: You donate $500 to your favorite charity. They receive a $1,000 check for your contribution.
Although supporting a charity is always an awesome thing to do no matter the amount, Option B is the more desirable one, right?
Did you know this scenario can likely play out for you through employer matching gifts?
Employer matching gifts are contributions made by thousands of employers nationwide, which (as the name says) matches an employee’s contribution to a nonprofit organization or charity. An estimated $2-3 billion is donated through matching gift programs annually.
Yet, an estimated $4-7 billion of matching gift funds goes unclaimed each year. A 2018 survey shows that only 1.31% of individual contributions are matched at the average nonprofit organization. The process of making a matching gift is often viewed as cumbersome, but it’s actually very simple!
To help you better understand employer matching gifts – and how they can significantly magnify the impact you have on your favorite charity – here are some common questions:
How do matching gifts work?
You donate to a charitable cause you love and adore. You then determine if your employer has a matching gift program. If so, you obtain a matching gift request form from them, fill out the employee section and mail the form to your nonprofit of choice. The charity then completes the form and returns it to your employer, who then sends back a check to match your donation. Just like that, your donation is doubled (and sometimes more)!
What are the benefits of a matching gift?
A matching gift is an easy way to do so much more for causes you hold most dear, at no extra cost to you! For instance, at Catholic Charities New Hampshire, a $500 donation provides fuel and energy assistance to a family struggling financially. But with a matching gift, that totals $1,000 – and can support two families.
Are there limitations to matching gifts?
Most employers match 1:1 (for instance, you donate $250, they contribute $250), while others offer ratios of 2:1 or higher. Some employers have very small minimums and generous maximum caps to what they can match. Some employers have time restrictions – usually a couple of months – for how long your gift is eligible to be matched after you make your donation. But it varies by the employer so check with your HR department.
Do you have to be a current employee of a participating employer?
The majority of employer matching gifts are generated to match gifts from current employees, but some employers may even match gifts made by their retirees, spouses of employees and even Board members. Your employer’s matching gift policy should detail eligibility requirements.
What kind of organizations or nonprofits do matching gifts benefit?
Matching gifts benefit a wide range of nonprofits and charitable causes. Most 501(c)(3) nonprofits accept matching gifts. Common restrictions include political organizations, sports teams and religious organizations or churches. (Note Catholic Charities New Hampshire welcomes matching gifts. We are not considered a “religious organization” as our services are available to everyone, regardless of their faith.)
How do I know if my employer offers matching gifts?
Contact your Human Resources Department or community giving program for a matching gift request form. Many employers have their forms online. (Here are some examples: Fidelity Investments and Johnson & Johnson).
Here at Catholic Charities New Hampshire, matching your gift is quick and easy, and we’re here to guide you through the process. Click here for more information on how you can double your impact supporting individuals and families across New Hampshire living amid poverty, despair and uncertainty. You may also contact Jennifer Merrill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-663-0208.