Donor Communication: Best Practices for Matching Gift Emails


If you’re looking for new ideas to raise more for your mission and keep your donors engaged with your fundraising efforts, promoting corporate matching gift opportunities is the way to go. And strategic matching gift emails are one of the best methods for doing so!

The majority of donors are interested in getting their donations matched by their employers⁠. Some might just need a little encouragement to get there.

According to research by Double the Donation, matching gift emails sent post-donation can increase the number of matches identified and submitted by up to 48%. You can drive that number even higher with the right tools, strategies, and donor communication⁠—such as effective email engagement.

To optimize your nonprofit’s matching gift emails, we suggest following these tried-and-true best practices:

  1. Send your emails within 24 hours of a donation.
  2. Personalize your subject line.
  3. Include an eye-catching image.
  4. Provide a brief explanation of matching gifts
  5. Incorporate a clear call to action.
  6. Link to a matching gift page on your site.
  7. Encourage recipients to indicate when they request a match.
  8. Automate your email communication.

When you incorporate these key tips, you’ll be sure to have a matching gift email strategy that maximizes corporate revenue and heightens donor engagement. Let’s jump in!


1. Send your emails within 24 hours of a donation.

Timing is everything when it comes to matching gift promotion.

You’ll want to send your follow-up emails soon enough that your organization is still at the top of the donor’s mind (and while they’re still riding the engagement high). However, you don't want to send it so soon that your matching gift message is confused with a donation receipt and subsequently disregarded.

The same study mentioned above states that sending matching gift reminder emails within 24 hours of a donation results in a 53% open rate. That’s 2-3 times higher than the average nonprofit email open rate!


2. Personalize your subject line.

It’s a good idea to personalize any email you send to your nonprofit supporters, which is especially vital to make your message stand out in the recipient’s inbox right from the get-go.

With matching gift communications, the two most significant customizable elements include the donor’s name and employer. Take a look at these examples:

  • Dear donor, did you know your employer might match your gift?
  • Matt, did you know the Home Depot will match your gift?

While the first email might share valuable information about matching gifts, the content seems vague and impersonal. The second email subject line, on the other hand, shows the donor that the message is intended directly for them and that you already know key details about their eligibility. As a result, they’ll be more likely to click and engage with the content and even take the requested next steps to secure a match!


3. Include an eye-catching image.

If you want to grab your readers’ attention, including eye-catching imagery in your matching gift emails is one of the best things you can do.

In fact, according to email marketing research, emails containing some form of imagery see significantly higher open rates and click-through rates than their text-only counterparts. However, experts recommend maintaining an approximate 4:1 ratio of text to graphics for optimal results.

But you don’t want to use your images to function only as space-fillers, either. Instead, we recommend incorporating a visual depiction of matching gifts to introduce the subject⁠—such as two wrapped gift boxes, matching (or mismatched) socks or shoes, side-by-side donation jars, and more.

You can also include your organization’s mission⁠—if you’re raising funds for your local animal shelter, for instance, try embedding a photo of two kittens!


4. Provide a brief explanation of matching gifts.

Some of your donors will have never heard of corporate matching gifts, let alone know their employer offers a program. To combat this knowledge gap, provide a brief description of matching gifts and how they benefit both the donor and your mission within your emails.

It can be as simple as⁠, “Matching gifts are donations made by companies to match gifts to eligible nonprofits from their employees.”


5. Incorporate a clear call to action.

Your fundraising communications should include a single, specific action that you’re requesting the recipient to take in response to the message they received. This might typically be a stylized button asking people to give and leading to your online donation form. In your matching gift emails, however, it’s important that your intended action is clear⁠—you’re not asking for more of their hard-earned dollars.

One of the best ways to boost donor retention is by providing easy ways to give that don’t require them to reach back into their own wallets. But without a clear strategy surrounding your calls to action, this point can be mistakenly overlooked and your matching gift appeal disregarded.


6. Link to a matching gift page on your site.

You should have already incorporated a brief summary of matching gift programs in your email. But for recipients interested in learning more about this opportunity, you’ll also want to include a link to additional resources—such as your organization’s dedicated matching gift web page.

Because this page should provide a more in-depth explanation of matching gifts, along with a matching gift database of company guidelines, it’s one of your most valuable matching gift fundraising assets. With a simple search of the matching gift database tool, donors should be able to quickly determine their matching gift eligibility through the provided company program criteria.


7. Encourage recipients to indicate when they request a match.

It can be hard to keep track of where your donors are in the matching gift process⁠—especially if they don’t keep you in the loop. That’s why we suggest asking individuals to provide updates as they go through the steps to determine their match eligibility, request a corporate match, and get their match request approved.

One of the simplest ways to do this is by embedding email buttons within your messaging that enable donors to quickly indicate their matching gift status.

For example, you might prompt donors to select one of the following options in your matching gift follow-up communications:

  • I’ve submitted my matching gift request!
  • My donation is not eligible for a match.

Once you have this information, your team is able to better engage with your donors as you guide them through the experience while offering improved data management for planning purposes. When you know which donors are likely to secure matching gifts on your behalf, you can better estimate revenue potential as well.


8. Automate your email communication.

Following all of the above practices might seem like matching gifts will require a lot of time and energy from your fundraising team. But it doesn’t have to! When you automate your matching gift emails⁠—along with other components of your overall matching gift strategy⁠—you can see a huge impact on results with minimum added effort.

This includes identifying match-eligible donors, pulling relevant data from online donation forms, triggering personalized follow-up emails at the right time, and providing recipients with the program information they need. It also means that you don’t have to worry about prospective matching gift donors slipping through the cracks.

To get started with automation, you’ll need to leverage matching gift automation software. Luckily, the industry-leading solution, 360MatchPro, integrates with BetterUnite for a seamless matching gift fundraising experience.

When it comes to matching gifts, having the right technology makes a big difference for any organization’s strategy.


Incorporating these tips allows you to communicate the availability and value of matching gifts to your audience, provide streamlined match request processes for donors, and keep track of your efforts throughout⁠—and your fundraising software helps you do so!