Matching Gift Programs: Avoiding Common Mistakes

Kylee Daugherty May 5, 2016 Employee Engagement

“I’ve seen a lot of matching gift programs in my day.”

I have yet to mother any children, but I fully plan on using this line with my future grandchildren.

On June 10th, I’ll have been with YourCause for three years. I spent the first 6 months as a fully dedicated Account Manager, and the past 2.5 years in implementation, taking our newest clients and setting them up on our platform. And that means a lot of matching programs.

Through all of those matching programs and the revisions that typically accompany a vendor transition, I’ve been able to observe the best and worst of matching guidelines.

To put an old adage to use, I’ve outlined a few of my insights in hopes that this will help you “learn from others’ mistakes.”


matching gift


Mistake #1: Not Knowing Program Goals

There are so many ways to structure employee giving and its respective matching programs. And honestly, I don’t know that I have a favorite approach. What I do know is that it’s important to know what your company values, what your employees value, what your community values, and how your CSR program can meet within that intersection.

For some companies, they want their program to be as open as possible so they’ll be more likely to garner employee engagement. For others, their company does really well in specific areas, and they want their employees to be a part of that impact. They maximize this by focusing their program’s guidelines.

Knowing your program goals and how matching can accompany them will not only help with program retention among your employees but will provide cohesion between your CSR program and company. That cohesion will allow you to better encourage program participation and avoid the all-too-common situation where your own employees don’t even know if their donations are match eligible.


Mistake #2: Not Accounting for External Influencers

Sometimes there are things impacting your program that are outside of your control. This can look like:

  • budget constraints
  • international expansion
  • outsourcing
  • legal liabilities

These are difficult to predict, but the more aware you are of circumstances that might change, the better you can incorporate those changes into your program modifications.


Mistake #3: Not Making Sure All CSR Programs are Aligned

You’ve set your programs’ goals, you did your data research, and you know why this is the best approach. Don’t forget to make sure all of your CSR programs are on the same page. Changes can be difficult to understand for employees, so the more simple and straightforward your programs are, the easier time they’ll have remembering the change, and therefore passing it on!


Mistake #4: Not Communicating the Changes

Sometimes communicating a change in CSR is like navigating a mine fieldwhat one person loves can set another off. However, it’s always best to communicate what changes have been made, or will be made, with clear language. If there’s a compelling story or reason why a change has been made, include it in the communication. Your program-loyal participants are your most important advocates, so help them feel like they’re a part of the process by relaying change as early as possible. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that prevent this from happening, but hell hath no fury like a matching gift participant scorned.

If you find your CSR program making one of these mistakes, just remember that it’s never too late to make a change. And at the end of the day, any CSR matching program is a good one. You’re doing good work and making the world a better place. Maybe even a better place for those non-existent grandchildren I mentioned earlier…