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4 Tips to Leverage Matching Gifts for Alumni Fundraising

When it comes to developing alumni giving opportunities, quality is even more important than quantity. It’s tempting to bombard your college or university’s alumni with request after request for donations, but this strategy can make your donors feel overwhelmed and burnt out. 

Instead, look for fundraising methods that will allow you to boost your revenue totals without asking too much of your donors. One of the best ways to do this is by leveraging matching gifts, a form of corporate philanthropy in which companies match their employees’ donations to nonprofits and higher education institutions. Most businesses match at a 1:1 ratio, meaning matching gifts allow you to double many of the donations you already receive!

In this guide, we’ll cover four tips to make the most of matching gifts in your alumni fundraising efforts. Let’s dive in!

1. Choose the Right Matching Gift Software

Before you can integrate matching gifts into your fundraising strategy, you first need to invest in the right tools. Dedicated matching gift software allows your university’s donors to check their eligibility and submit match requests to their employers with ease.

Make sure your matching gift tool includes the following features:=&0=&

  • A user-friendly interface. The solution should be easy for your team to set up and for your donors to navigate. However, you should still check that the software vendor provides technical support in case issues arise.
  • Comprehensive company records. Ensure the solution’s database of matching gift companies is updated regularly and includes information on each employer’s unique matching gift policies, such as minimum and maximum match amounts per employee.
  • Auto-submission capabilities. Auto-submission allows alumni to submit match requests to their employers simply by entering their work email address, speeding up the process and leading to more completed matches.
  • Integrations with popular CSR platforms. These are the solutions companies leverage to manage their matching gift programs. Using a higher-ed matching gift tool that integrates with these tools streamlines the match request review process, meaning you can receive companies’ contributions more quickly.

Once you’ve chosen a matching gift tool, embed it directly into your university’s online donation page so alumni donors can easily check their eligibility and submit match requests.

2. Market Matching Gifts Through Multiple Channels

According to 360MatchPro’s matching gift statistics, more than 26 million individuals work for companies with matching gift programs, so a sizable percentage of your university’s alumni are likely among that number. However, 78% of donors don’t know if their employers offer matching gifts, leading to $4-$7 billion in matching funds going unclaimed each year.

To help solve this problem among your alumni donor base, promote matching gifts across all of your university’s marketing channels, including:=&0=&

  • Your website. In addition to adding matching gift information to your donation page, create a dedicated page explaining the donation-matching process and answering frequently asked questions.
  • Social media. Post matching gift appeals on all of the platforms your alumni regularly leverage (such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok), then direct them to your website to learn more and donate.
  • Email marketing. The 360MatchPro report cited above also states that the average matching gift email has a 52% open rate—more than double the typical open rate for fundraising emails—so dedicated emails should definitely be part of your marketing plan!
  • Text messaging. Whenever someone donates through your university’s text-to-give number, send an automated follow-up message reminding them to check their matching gift eligibility post-donation if they haven’t already.
  • Direct mail. This traditional marketing method is still effective for supplementing digital communications and reaching certain audiences. There are matching gift letter templates available online to help you get started—such as these from Fundraising Letters—but make sure to customize them with your university’s branding and personalize the greeting for each recipient.

As alumni begin to respond to your communications, track conversion rates from each channel so you know which messages are driving the most results and where there is room for improvement in your matching gift marketing strategy.

3. Segment Alumni Intentionally

To make your matching gift communications even more effective, target them to specific groups of alumni. You might be familiar with donor segmentation—the process of grouping your university’s supporters based on shared characteristics. Segmenting your alumni can help you tailor your matching gift appeals for better results.

Try segmenting your alumni based on the following data points:=&0=&

  • Employer. The first thing to figure out is which of your alumni work for companies that match donations to ensure they’re on your mailing list for matching gift communications. Considering the number of matching gift programs out there, this segment will probably be quite large!


What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising? A Fundraiser’s Mini Guide

88% of consumers trust suggestions from friends and family more than traditional advertising, according to a Nielson report. This statistic speaks to the power of social proof, which your university or organization can tap into to cultivate more trust and more donations. 

In the context of alumni fundraising, this means that it can be much more effective to tap into alumni support networks to facilitate fundraising on your organization’s behalf rather than reaching out directly. This strategy, known as peer-to-peer fundraising, also benefits your organization by connecting current members to alumni and building life-long relationships. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss the basics of peer-to-peer fundraising and determine how you can incorporate it into your organization’s strategy to experience alumni fundraising success. 

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Basics

Peer-to-peer fundraising, also known as P2P fundraising, is a strategy that asks individual, volunteer fundraisers to create and promote donation pages for your cause. It includes a personalized and social approach where individuals facilitate and advertise your fundraiser.

Typically, organizations will recruit supporters with large networks to launch personalized campaign pages. Then, these supporters will reach out to their friends and family to collect donations on your behalf. Fundly’s donation guide highlights peer-to-peer fundraising as an effective strategy for the following reasons:=&0=&

  • Inherent trust. Peer networks of friends, families, and coworkers all have common ground with your supporters already. While building this inherent trust with new donors typically takes time, you can earn donations faster by leveraging these existing relationships.
  • Instant access. It’s easier to ask for donations from people who are in your immediate vicinity or with whom you keep up regularly. Supporters don’t engage with organizations as much as they do with their networks, so using these relationships to your advantage can increase reach.
  • Shared values. Often, friends and family agree on charitable causes to support. This makes inviting them to a meaningful event, asking for financial support, or simply raising awareness much easier.

Because peer-to-peer fundraising relies on supporter networks to launch and sustain funding, organizations don’t have to worry about selecting the perfect fundraising product to sell or ironing out the details of a fancy gala.

Although not mandatory, many peer-to-peer fundraisers are combined with popular events such as charity runs, bike-a-thons, or even celebratory birthday fundraisers. That’s the great part about peer-to-peer fundraising—it’s flexible enough to adapt to any cause or event.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising vs Crowdfunding

Although similar, peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding have distinct differences worth defining. Crowdfunding involves an organization creating a centralized donation page with a broader, more direct public appeal. These campaigns can also be rewards-based and are usually conducted with a strict timeline. 

On the other hand, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns involve a more network-driven approach in which supporters create their own online fundraising pages to share with friends and family. This makes peer-to-peer fundraising a perfect fit for tight-knit alumni networks that are more engagement or community-focused. 

How to Launch a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

Refer to these five quick steps for launching your peer-to-peer fundraiser:

  1. Set a financial goal by clearly outlining what you aim to achieve. This should include a financial target that is informed by your previous fundraising campaigns and donor analytics.
  2. Set up your main campaign page to prioritize user-friendliness, customization options, and integration capabilities with social media and your existing donor management system.
  3. Recruit supporters who will serve as your campaign’s initial fundraisers. Equip them with fundraising pages, tips for sharing their stories, and strategies for reaching out to their networks.
  4. Promote and launch your fundraiser by hosting an event or announcing the campaign online. Use multiple channels such as email marketing, social media, and your organization’s website in addition to individual donation pages. 
  5. Update and thank your supporters by keeping them in the loop when you’ve reached fundraising milestones. Express gratitude during and after your campaign for every donation, no matter the size. 

As you can see, pulling off this fundraising idea depends on your ability to reach social networks. That said, you need to do everything you can to make sure your peer-to-peer fundraising software and campaign materials are ready to use once the campaign goes live. This may mean testing technology and resolving issues proactively so that donors can experience a hassle-free donation process.

Peer-to-Peer Alumni Fundraising Best Practices

There are a few peer-to-peer strategies you can use to really harness the power of your alumni’s reach and impact. Implementing these best practices will give your campaign an extra edge to go above and beyond the basic peer-to-peer fundraising steps:

  • Engage passionate alumni leaders. Refer to your CRM to identify and ask passionate alumni volunteers to take charge of your peer-to-peer fundraising efforts. Equip them with the necessary information such as an example fundraising page, an explanation of where the funds will go, and suggested promotional channels.