It’s no secret that year end is the optimal time for not-for-profits to dial up their campaign efforts. Many donors wait until late in the year to make tax-deductible gifts, and nothing makes you feel like giving more than the holidays.
In fact, according to Double the Donation, 10% of all charitable giving occurs on the last three days of the year! If your organization hasn’t already started its big push, don’t wait any longer. Here are our top three tips for motivating year end donation.
Inform Givers About Deductions
Most donors don’t contribute to charity simply for the tax deduction. But it’s important for your supporters to understand the potential tax benefits, and limits, of making donations. Usually, charitable donations take one of two forms:
Cash gifts. If an individual makes a cash or cash-equivalent contribution to a qualified charity — for example, using a credit card — the gift generally is tax-deductible if the individual itemizes deductions. (A limited deduction for nonitemizers that was available in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer allowed.) Donors must obtain contemporaneous acknowledgements for gifts of $250 or more. Currently, the limit for all cash donation deductions is 60% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). Any excess can be carried over for up to five years.
Property gifts. Individuals may donate property they own, such as financial securities, real estate or valuable artwork. For property that would have qualified for long-term capital gain treatment had it been sold (in other words, it had been owned for more than a year), a taxpayer can deduct the full fair market value. But gifts of property are limited to 30% of AGI, subject to the same carryover rule as cash donations. Note: An independent appraisal is required for property valued at more than $5,000.
Work Around a Theme
In addition to educating donors about tax deductions, there are plenty of other ways to motivate gift givers at year end. For example, create a giving campaign around a fun participatory theme, such as the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge. Or focus on a specific goal, such as the construction of a new facility. You could use the image of the potential building and “building” language in campaign materials.
Social media will be key to your success, so consider launching it on Facebook or LinkedIn. To that end, make sure your campaign’s name isn’t already in use online — particularly as a well-known hashtag. Also make sure your website’s donation page is ready for year-end gift-giving. It shouldn’t take too long to load, include dead links or show error messages. To further motivate online gifts, participate in Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving). In 2022, U.S. donors gave $3.1 billion to charity on Giving Tuesday, a 15% increase from 2021.
Once Giving Tuesday is over, shift your campaign into high gear. Reach out to potential donors through additional channels — by making phone calls, mailing letters and postcards, and meeting major donors in person. Be sure to deploy your board members strategically. They can contact friends and associates about matching gift programs or appeal to community leaders or big donors for support. At the very least, board members should reach out to their social media followers.
Maintain Best Practices
To maximize your year-end campaign’s results, consider these best practices:
Use your records. Reach out to those whom your records reveal have habitually made year-end contributions. You can also segment your donor database according to gift size and other characteristics that suggest some past donors may be more willing to give now.
Share your stats. Analytics, just as they do in sports or with for-profit businesses, can engage and motivate nonprofit stakeholders. Consider using infographics to display your organization’s historical fundraising patterns and keep an updated total of funds raised since the start of your current campaign on your website. Also try to use stats to show how you have — or will — spend money you’ve raised.
Take notes. Lessons learned this year will be invaluable when planning future campaigns. Make sure staffers record what works especially well during this year-end fundraising season and what they should avoid doing in 2024. This can include noting particularly helpful board or community members, bookmarking useful technology apps, or even listing ideas for further exploration.
Plant the Seed for Year End Donation
Probably the most important factor in a successful year-end fundraising campaign is starting early. So don’t wait any longer! Excellent communication is a close second. Maintain connections with potential donors throughout the year via email, your website, social media and snail mailings so they know who you are and what you represent when they’re asked for money. Frequent contact when you’re not asking for donations will make giving campaigns that much easier to execute.
Clark Schaefer Hackett is committed to serving as your trusted partner in the financial services space. Our focused expertise within the not-for-profit category, allows us to serve as a trusted partner who has the knowledge to anticipate your needs with the experience to lead your organization.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals.