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What is a matching gift program?

A matching gift is a donation made to a non-profit which is tied to a separate contribution by another donor.  Since the prospect of a matching gift encourages donations, many companies offer matching gift programs to motivate employee contributions to non-profits. The matching gift could be dollar for dollar or a partial match for each dollar, and sometimes the matching gifts can be multiples of the original donation.

According to Giving USA’s 2011 Annual Report, matching gifts represented approximately 20% of corporate cash donations in 2010.  In their 2011 survey of corporate giving, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) found that in 2010, 94% of companies offered at least one matching-gift program averaging $1.70 million in total matching funds.  From 2009 to 2010, 57% of companies raised the dollar amount donated to matching gift programs.  Also in 2010, 40 companies added a disaster relief matching program that they didn’t previously have and the average percentage of matching funds allocated to disaster relief matching programs jumped up from 1% in 2009 to 7% in 2010.  This huge increase reflected a shift in priorities as companies instituted mechanisms for employee donations in response to catastrophic events.

Microsoft is the largest contributor of matching gift and volunteer grant funds, which contributed to its record-breaking employee giving campaign in 2011, when $100.5 million (inclusive of the company match) was raised for more than 18,000 U.S.-based community organizations doing work in the U.S. and around the world.

Matching gift can also be referred to as a ‘matching grant’.

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