The University of Notre Dame has one of the most successful matching gift programs in higher education—and that success has helped the school generate millions of dollars in matching gifts every year. We spoke with Pablo Martinez, Assistant Director, Strategic Marketing at Notre Dame, to learn the secrets of their success so that we could share them with you.

With over 5,000 benefactors from more than 1,000 companies, the iconic Catholic research university currently has more matching gift donors than any other higher-education institution. Collectively, that donor base raised over an eye-popping $3 million in matching gifts in 2014!

Martinez explains that these impressive numbers are the result of the university’s loyal donor base and comprehensive matching gift strategy, which includes the following key elements:

  • Align the Fundraising Team to Matching Gifts. Martinez says that it is crucial to engage all of the development team around the potential of matching gifts. Keep them apprised of the amount raised through matching gifts in previous years; this helps reinforce why matching gifts are so important to your institution’s overall fundraising strategy. At Notre Dame, for example, the matching gift team includes representatives from the annual giving team, advancement services, and major giving departments.
  • Collect and Disseminate Accurate Data. Martinez explains that email campaigns are an important channel to capture matching gifts; that’s why Notre Dame relies on HEPdata’s Employer Find to ensure they have the most accurate employer information available. At least monthly, review the previous month’s donations to determine match eligibility, and send personalized emails to eligible benefactors. Martinez says that the email should include the date and amount of the gift, matching gift instructions, and a link powered by HEPdata’s E-Match Donor LinkTM.
  • Refer to Matching Gifts in All Marketing Communications. Martinez includes information about matching gifts collected from HEPdata’s GiftPlus Online® information incorporated into Notre Dame’s phonathon system. This allows callers to inform donors right on the phone whether they work for a matching gift company. They also include information on matching gifts in their reply cards, as inserts, and also within all solicitations whether digital or print.
  • Take Advantage of a Matching Gift Month. Martinez and his team ran a “Find Your Match Campaign” in February—Matching Gift Month. The campaign included a specific call to action that reminded donors of the date and amount of their year-end donation, along with a reminder that it could still be matched. In addition, Martinez and his team remind donors and friends of the benefits of matching gifts monthly, and provide a personalized link to encourage donors to check whether they work for a company that matches employee gifts. This link is included in all targeted email, direct mail, and social media campaigns.
  • Include Matching Gift Information on Major Gift Reports. Martinez explained that Notre Dame’s major-gift and annual-giving fundraisers are always prepared to discuss matching gifts during donor visits. Ensure your major-gift and annual-giving fundraisers are not only knowledgeable about matching gifts, but are aware of the eligibility of their prospects, and that this information is included in their donor profile. Martinez said this has proved to be particularly successful through a report that is provided to their fundraisers.
  • Acknowledge Donor Matches. Additionally, Martinez believes sending matching gift acknowledgements to the donor, both for when a donor submits a claim, and when the company matches the donor gift, has been instrumental in maintaining their matching gifts relationships. Donors seem to appreciate the additional stewardship in this space, even if they have received thank you’s for the gift itself. The acknowledgments should be time sensitive (within a week of the claim/gift being processed), incorporate claim/gift information, and are personalized in email or mail format (email preferred) – much like the reminders that encourage matching gifts themselves. In order to create this matching gift culture they have tried to make stewardship of matching gifts a priority.

Is your college, university, or nonprofit following these six proven matching gift strategies? If so, we can’t guarantee you’ll generate millions of dollars a year in matched revenue like Notre Dame does, but the chances of you finding matching money from your donors will improve dramatically!  Thank you to Pablo Martinez for contributing to this blog.

At HEPdata we are happy to help you evaluate how you can increase your matching gift revenue. Check out our Learning Center where you can view over 50 free on-demand educational webinars given by leaders in philanthropy, covering best practice for matching gift administration and other fundraising topics. You can also find a weekly blog that provides useful fundraising tips. If you are interested in more information please, email: info@hepdata.com or call 800-681-4438.  If you would like to contact our blog writer, please email Joan Graham at Joan@hepdata.com

How Notre Dame Raised Over $3 Million in Matching Gifts Last Year