sealPurdue News

May 26, 1995

Matching gifts mean extra edge for higher education

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A trend toward more matching-gift programs by employers is a matchless opportunity for higher education, fund-raising experts say.

The gifts -- money or equipment that a company gives to supplement an employee's donation -- are becoming more popular, says Charles R. Stephens, director of development and communications for the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, Indianapolis.

"Companies like the programs because they direct donations to recipients selected by their employees," Stephens says.

Approximately 3,000 companies have matching gift programs, according to the National Clearinghouse for Corporate Matching Gift Information at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Washington, D.C. Corporate matching gifts to higher education have gone from about $79 million in 1983-84 to nearly $162 million in 1992-93, the clearinghouse reports.

David R. Morgan, vice president for research at the New York City-based Council for Aid to Education, says the growing number of alumni is a factor in the increase. "As alumni get older, they tend to have more discretionary income," he says.

Charles B. Wise, vice president for development at Purdue University, says his public institution benefits immensely from matching gifts.

"Matching gifts are a wonderful way to double or even triple the original amount of a gift," Wise says. "The matching gift shows a commitment by the employer to support projects that the employee deems worthy."

Matching gifts typically work this way: The employee sends in a completed matching gifts form with a contribution to the college or university. The university verifies the contribution and returns the form to the employer, who then sends the matching gift directly to the university.

Purdue graduates Stanley G. Tebbe, vice president of Paramins Additives with Exxon Chemical, Linden, N.J., and his wife, Mary Ann, a teacher, have been giving to Purdue since the early 1970s. Exxon matches their gifts 3 to 1. At present the couple is supporting, among other areas, minority programs in the School of Chemical Engineering.

Tebbe says he gives to Purdue as a payback for the career opportunities that his education made possible.

He says the only way he could afford college was by getting scholarships and grants, and "giving is a way to make these same educational opportunities available to others."

Exxon has a strong interest in supporting education, Tebbe says. From April 1994 through March 1995, the company gave $12.6 million in matching gifts to higher education.

For universities facing ever-tightening budgets, matching gifts can make a big difference. In Purdue's case, the level of state funding has dropped from 33 percent of the operating budget to about 25 percent during the past 15 years.

Joyce D. Koelzer, director of annual support at Purdue, says the key to a successful matching-gift program for any college or university is simply to let alumni know their employer has such a program.

"People can't get their gifts matched if they don't know their employers will do it," she says.

And the formula has worked for Purdue. When Koelzer joined the development office in 1979, Purdue was raising approximately $16,000 a year in matching gifts. After Purdue sent alumni and other donors a special mailing on matching-gifts programs that listed participating companies, those gifts increased to $304,000 in 1980 and within six years were running about $1 million a year.

In 1993-94, matching gifts to Purdue -- excluding the donors' original gifts -- totaled $2.1 million from 714 companies. That ranked Purdue among the top five public universities in the country for that year, Koelzer says.

The "granddaddy" of all corporate matching gift programs is General Electric, which pioneered the matching-gift concept 41 years ago.

Jane L. Polin, comptroller and program manager of the GE Foundation for six years, says GE's matching gift programs have been "in a big growth mode" the last five years because of employee and retiree interest. The company matches 1 to 1 the gifts by employees and retirees to their alma maters and also gifts to approved nonprofit groups in communities where GE has facilities.

"The GE Fund's support for education is rooted in the firm belief that education is the best means of developing opportunity," Polin says. "Through matching gifts, we support colleges and universities that GE employees and retirees feel are the most worthy of support."

A new player in matching gifts in Indiana is the Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller Donadio & Ryan, which started a matching-gift program for Indiana colleges and universities last fall. The firm will match any employees' contributions up to a maximum $200 per family per year.

Jeffrey O. Lewis, a partner who helped implement the matching-gift program, says it's designed to recognize the large number of Indiana college and university graduates the firm employs.

"Many of our lawyers and other employees are graduates of Indiana schools," says Lewis, who coordinates the firm's College and University Practice Group. "We wanted to show our appreciation to those schools and also to our university and college clients."

Lewis says the firm first polled the employees informally to see who already was giving to colleges and whether they would be interested in increasing the donation if Ice Miller matched it. About one-fourth of the employees said yes.

"We've publicized the program pretty well within the firm," says Lewis, who sends monthly reminders. "We want to encourage people to give to the college of their choice, but not make it sound like it's mandatory. It's something that might encourage people to take advantage of the $200 Indiana college credit on their taxes."

He estimates that about a dozen of the firm's 175 lawyers are Purdue graduates.

Sources: Greg Humpert, CASE's National Clearinghouse for Corporate Matching Gift Information, (202) 328-5900; Internet,
David R. Morgan, (212) 661-5800
Charles R. Stephens, (765) 684-8920; Internet,
Charles B. Wise, (765) 494-8653; Internet,
Joyce D. Koelzer, (765) 494-2729
Jeffrey O. Lewis, (765) 236-2100
Jane L. Polin, (203) 373-3220
Stanley Tebbe, (908) 474-3485
Writer: Ellen Rantz, (765) 494-2073; Internet,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A black-and-white chart that shows the growth of matching gifts during the past decade is available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. To receive this news release via e-mail, send a message that says "send punews 9505f11" to Purdue News Service also maintains a searchable data base of faculty experts and posts news releases on a web server at and a gopher server at The web site also offers selected downloadable photographs.

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page