Using Phonathon to
Positively Influence
Matching Gift Programs
…Tips and Strategies for Increasing Results
Jason Fisher, Senior Counsel
Advancement Solutions
A Division of RuffaloCODY
Unauthorized reproduction, distribution or use of the following
material is prohibited by law.
Copyright 2009 Advancement Solutions, A Division of RuffaloCODY
The Phonathon Manager’s Planning Handbook
Dialing in the Details for Success
For additional resources, see the
new book by Jason Fisher &
Anthony Arrington that highlight best
practices in phonathon planning.
Topics include:
*Recruiting and Retention
*Caller Training
*Statistical Forecasting
*Pledge Fulfillment
*Data Integrity
*Policies and Procedures
See CASE’s bookstore
Phonathon Blog
Make the discussion a regular part of your phonathon day!
Join the Conversation at http://phonathonblogger.typepad.com
Would You Turn Down Free Money?
 Failure to maximize
matching gift potential is
essentially leaving
money on the table
 Callers, management,
and administrative
personnel all influence
 Just a 1% increase in
matching gifts is equal
to thousands of dollars
for most programs.
Development offices need to properly staff gifts receiving positions to follow up on
matching gifts identified in phone program.
Purpose of Matching Gifts From a Corporate
What’s in it for them?
 Recruiting new employees
 Reinforces value of high quality
education with employees
Helps local colleges and
universities; community
Employee retention
Shows corporate America in
positive light
Tax and financial considerations
for business
It is important to train callers to understand the benefits of matching gifts from
both perspectives. This will help them explain the process to your constituents.
What’s In It For the Prospect?
Why Prospects Don’t Follow Through
 Too much of a hassle
 Callers should stress the importance
 Explain while the prospect is on the phone
 Fear reprisal for asking company to
Economy, job loss makes people nervous
about taking advantage of benefit
 Not educated about process
 Doesn’t understand what matching benefit is
and how it works
 Believes institution will take care of it
 Callers need to explain what their
responsibility is in terms of sending it back
Callers need to emphasize that the donor takes credit on their gift history for the
matching gift- possibly allowing them to advance into the next gift club
Train Your Callers to Understand the
Matching Gift Process
 Callers should be able to explain outline of
process to prospect
General steps involved
College/university’s role in processing
Credit recognized/given by school
 Devote a full page in your training manual
to matching gifts
Cover how to distinguish company rules,
including minimum and maximum amounts,
retiree or spouse matches, match ratios, etc.
 Invite your matching gift administrator to
talk with your callers
Helps show the seriousness of matching gifts
Explaining internal process makes it clearer to
Callers should leave training prepared to discuss matching gifts and be a resource
for general information. They need to stress the importance on the phones!
Use a Consistent Pledge Close
 Teach callers to ask for
matching dollars on every
The pledge close should be used
verbatim on every call, no exceptions.
Make no assumptions,
even if they have updated
business info
Spouses can be a source
of matching gifts
Use at proper time,
consistently in the closing
Maximizing matching gift percentage requires consistency in asking. The number
one reason why matching gifts aren’t realized is callers failing to ask.
Example of Pledge Close
Thank you very much for your commitment of $_____.
Will that be on your MasterCard, VISA, American Express, or Discover?
(Be very assumptive with this sentence)
If they object to using credit card:
The reason we are asking all alumni to place their gift on a credit card this evening is that it saves
the College postage and administrative costs. Giving on credit card actually makes your gift even
more valuable to the school. Can we put that on your MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or
Discover card this evening?
(If No): We will send you a pledge card in the mail. Can you have that gift back within 30 days?
Is your mailing address still ________? (If no, capture new address)
Are you still employed at __________? (If no, or employer field is blank, capture employer)
Would you or your spouse work for a company that would match your gift?
(Offer to look up their employer on our matching gift list). This can in some cases double or even
triple support to Spring Hill College. Be sure to explain the process to prospect.
Thank you for your commitment of $_____. I enjoyed speaking with you and appreciate your
Proper Scripting for Matching Gift Ask
 Do you or your spouse work for a matching gift company?
 Would you or your spouse work for a company that matches
charitable contributions?
Small changes in verbiage alter the meaning of the question, leading to
confusion for the prospect. Confusion and complexity are two big reasons
why prospects mistakenly tell callers their companies do not match, leading
to lost revenue for the institution.
Strategic Scripting Principles, Pages 128-130 of The Phonathon Manager’s
Planning Handbook, further describes how to script the matching gift ask
Coaching Callers for Improved Matching
 Listen specifically for
matching gift ask
 Tape or record calls to
refine techniques
 Listen to multiple
presentations to assure
consistency in delivery
 Callers should be
coached nightly, but
documented once every
10 hours of calling
All callers need guidance in properly asking for matching gifts. Listening skills and
the ability to explain the matching process should be emphasized.
Matching Gift Inserts
 Use in pledge
acknowledgements and
 Low cost and easy to
 Flexible in design. Use
color, text, and size/shape
to tailor the piece to your
Post-it Notes offer a creative, cost-effective
opportunity to drive constituents to your
website. This also helps pledge fulfillment.
Boosting matching gifts requires strong callers and effective fulfillment methods
E-Mail Reminders to Fulfill Matching Gifts
 Any e-mails sent to acknowledge, remind, or thank constituents for
pledges can (and should) easily include information on matching gifts.
 Links to online databases direct donors to your website and provide the
opportunity to verify their employers participation in matching gifts.
 Text or visual appearance can be easily altered for future adjustments
Motivational Activities Should
Reinforce Matching Gifts
 Always use matching gifts in your game strategies
 Constant visual reinforcement helps emphasize importance
 Award points or rewards for matching gift results
 Display cumulative yearly results for callers to see and track
Industry Averages for Matching Gifts
in Phonathon
 Averages are affected by:
 Institution
 Predominant employer in town
 Types of degrees offered
 Donor education
 Student callers
 Scripting and training
Programs typically average 5-10% of all pledges and dollars from matching, depending
on the above factors. Results less than 5% are cause for further investigation.
Check individual caller statistics to ensure they are consistent with team average.
Verifying Employer Information
 Phrase correctly for maximum
 Stated too bluntly and many
prospects refuse to update
 Use early in the call as part of
demographic update process
 Helps justify the reason for
the phone call
 Ask for job title along with
company name
 Phone number is bonus
Business information
(employer and title). The
University likes to hear what
alumni are doing with their
degrees. [Are you still
working at…?] [Would you
mind sharing your title and
employer name?]
Some alumni will not care to share their employer information for fear you will
contact them at work. Tinker with the verbiage of the ask to ensure you approach
the call in the correct way.
Feel free to contact me:
Jason Fisher
Senior Counsel
(319) 892-0376
[email protected]
Jason is an 18-year veteran of the phonathon industry, having successfully
managed multiple programs including the University of Georgia. Jason is the
former Director of Operations for RuffaloCODY and has consulted with over
100 institutions in his career. To learn more about Jason’s background, visit
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