Matching Gifts and Donor Benefits
Question: A public television station provides thank-you gifts of varying values based upon the amount of a donor’s contribution. An employee of a corporation makes a gift to a local public television station. Can the corporate foundation match the gift as part of its matching gift program, even though the station provided a thank-you gift?
Answer: Yes. However, to avoid concerns of self-dealing, any thank-you gift received by the donor should only be based upon the contribution from the donor. No part of the foundation’s grant may be the basis for goods or services provided to the donor.
Example: A public television station provides individuals contributing $100 or less with a CD. Donors who contribute more than $100 receive a DVD collection. A donor contributes $100 and your company foundation makes a grant of $100 to the station as a matching gift. The donor should only receive the CD because the thank-you gift should be based solely on the donor’s contribution.
The foundation’s transmittal letter to the grantee that accompanies the matching gift should clarify that any goods or services provided to the donor should be based solely on contributions from the donor and not on contributions made by the foundation.
To avoid this problem, some corporate foundations create guidelines that do not permit matching grants for employees’ contributions if the employee receives goods and/or services in return for a gift.