Publications & Products
Volume 1, Issue 10

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

Nearly one in 10 gifts to educational institutions is eligible for a matching gift from employers of individual donors. It's time more community colleges took advantage of these opportunities, say a group of matching gifts experts.

Community colleges reported receiving $269,382 collectively in matching gifts in 2011, according to the latest Voluntary Support of Education survey. Of the institutions reporting, the average number of matching gifts was nine and the average total raised through matching gifts was $3,545. These numbers have trended down slightly from the previous two years. They are also dramatically lower than those for baccalaureate, master's and research/doctoral institutions.

The differences don't have to be so stark, says Steve Hafner, founder and chief executive officer of HEP Development Services, a company that helps education institutions find and maximize matching gifts.

"Community colleges are no different than many smaller nonprofit organizations—and they get plenty of matching gifts," Hafner says. "You just need to keep it simple and educate [community colleges] on the value of matching gifts."

Hafner, who attended Northern Virginia Community College before transferring to nearby George Mason University, says there are lots of people in northern Virginia who work for companies that match gifts.

"And they're pretty much an afterthought. Nobody is preaching the matching gift to these institutions," Hafner says. And I think the two-year market is ready for it."

Getting started doesn't take much, Hafner adds.

"You need to promote matching gifts proactively and not rely on donors to know if their gift is match-eligible," Hafner says. "That can take the shape of a link on a website so that people can see if they're match-eligible. Or if you're directly working with donors, it can help to know before you start a correspondence if they're match-eligible. Pointing that out can help provide an incentive."

HEP, in conjunction with CASE, will host a free webinar next month on creating an active matching gift program at a community college. The first 50 registrants for the event will receive a free screening from HEP on how many of the donors on their institution's donor list work for companies that match gifts.

Linda Stark, matching gifts specialist at Cal Poly State University, will conduct the webinar. She says community college fundraising professionals will be able to make a case to administrators for investing in a matching gifts program once they achieve some initial success.

"People love success," Stark says. "An organization can market matching just by referring donors to the [human resources department] and asking if they have a matching gift program. When your college starts getting more initial matching gifts, you'll get more support to ramp things up."

This article is from the April 2012 issue of the Community College Advancement News.


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