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Pull In Your Best Year-End Giving in a Time of Tax Reform

Membership, Major Giving, #GivingTuesday, calendar year-end, planned giving, Year End Giving

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by Melanie Coulson, Jay Clayton, and Jennifer Fusco

The holidays are a time for giving gifts to family and friends… and to nonprofit organizations. In fact, more money is donated during November and December than in other months. The numbers vary by survey, but nonprofits report anywhere from 30-50% of giving occurs during the holiday season.

Both the House of Representatives and Senate tax-reform bills that are being reconciled in conference committee will likely significantly change the way tax law governs charitable giving. There is speculation about how this would affect charitable giving overall. Once the law is finalized, we will provide comprehensive advice on how to approach this situation. 

For now we recommend that you stay focused on the current tax deductibility of gifts and avoid speculative pitches or language when talking to donors. As with other legislative actions and threats, keep it simple and stick to the facts.

These six points will help you make the most of this vital year-end fundraising opportunity.

1. Be weekend-ready.

December 31st falls on Sunday this year. Prepare to accept gifts from your listeners on Saturday, December 30th and Sunday, December 31st. Make sure your shop is up and running in the same way it would be were these two critical fundraising days to fall on weekdays. Remind your listeners that you will be available to them even on the final weekend of the year.

2. Make use of your basic tools that help people give.

Everything that increases giving during your other seasonal campaigns – matches and challenges, thank-you gifts, and sweepstakes prizes – is also essential to your year-end campaign. Make strategic use of these tools across channels. Messaging is generally similar too. Remind your listeners of the value they get from your station each day and of the importance of listener support.

3. Speak directly to year-end givers.

November and December present an opportunity to talk to a segment of your listeners who make most - if not all - of their charitable contributions during these two months. Craft a simple, consistent message and run it aggressively on all of your fundraising channels. Consider special segmentation and email messaging to donors in your file who typically give during this time of year. (Here’s how to turn your website into a year-end cash machine).

4. Coordinate membership with major and planned giving.

Make certain your major and planned giving team are a part of any plan for taking calls and corresponding with donors over the holidays. Major giving officers might also take the opportunity to reach out to donors directly who have supported the station during November and December of years past. Here’s how to finish your fourth quarter with strong major giving.

5. Connect with your major donors.

The end of the year is a great time to send a thank-you message to all major donors with a summary of programming highlights made possible because of their contributions. Include mentions of alternate ways of giving in this message (stock, IRA qualified charitable distribution, vehicle donation, matching gift, etc.) Pick one or two types to focus on each year knowing that there will be other opportunities year-round to bring up these ways of giving. If a donor has given a reason for declining to give earlier in the year, consider just sending a thank-you note for their past support.

6. Pave the way for gifts of stock.

Year-end giving is prime time for gifts of stock, so be prepared to accept these with ease. If you have donors who make stock gifts at the end of the year, send them a note or email thanking them for their past stock gifts and expressing your hope that they will make a donation again this year. Include the stock transfer details.

 Updated on December 5, 2017 to reflect the current state of tax legislation.

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