Matching Gifts

Employee matching gifts are simply that: corporate donations triggered by a gift made by an employee. This practice originated in the 1950s, when the chair of the General Electric Board of Directors persuaded his company to match employee gifts in order to stimulate their giving to colleges and universities. Since that time, many companies have adopted the idea and have expanded it to include other causes, although the bulk of the money still goes to education. Statistics from a recent survey done by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a nonprofit organization that promotes employee matching gifts, show that 51% of the companies surveyed made gifts to at least one noneducational organization, 30% matched environmental/conservation groups and 23% matched gifts to all nonprofit organizations.

A few more interesting statistics from CASE include:

  • 33% of employee matching givers will match contributions from retirees
  • 14% will match contributions from spouses of eligible employees
  • 12% match employee gifts at a ratio of 2/1 or even 3/1
  • Most matching gifts are unrestricted or are for the same use as the employee’s gift
  • In addition to cash employee gifts, some companies will also match gifts of securities (51%) and volunteer time (6%)

Among the companies surveyed by CASE, the industries having the most matching gift programs were manufacturing, finance, insurance, services, and public utilities.

How Does the Matching Gift Process Work?

Company employees initiate matching gifts. The usual steps include:

  1. The employee gets a matching gift form from his/her employer (often the human resources department) and fills it out in full.
  2. The employee sends the form to the nonprofit organization along with his/her contribution.
  3. The nonprofit receiving the gift completes the form and mails it back to the company in question.
  4. The company sends the nonprofit the matching gift.

If a company does not have a matching gift program, an inquiry from an employee can sometimes help motivate management to set one up.