The final three months of the year are traditionally the busiest for fundraisers at charitable organizations, and now is the time to prepare. Many nonprofits receive between 30% and 40% of their yearly gift total during the final six to eight weeks of the year. Understanding how and why people choose to give at this time can help you make the most of the season. Here are five things to consider now:
- An Effective Year-End Campaign—This usually includes a targeted mailing as well as other means of communication. Send donors brochures, postcards and inserts in scheduled mass appeals or newsletters that detail ways to give this year. Utilize your website for fundraising and provide detailed information about giving to your organization. Be sure that your website is clean, user-friendly and up to date, especially for donors who choose not to give via an online portal. Your website should clearly outline ways to give, how to give and who to contact.
- Important Dates for Year-End Marketing—Messaging and timing are critical to the success of your year-end campaign. A few important dates to keep in mind are:
- National Estate Planning Awareness Week is Oct. 17-23. This week offers an opportunity to partner with estate planners in your area to educate your donors about charitable bequests and other planned gifts that offer income and other financial benefits.
- National Philanthropy Day is Nov. 15 and is designated to shine the spotlight on volunteers and donors.
- #GivingTuesday comes on Nov. 29, shortly after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and encourages donors to add their favorite charities to their gift lists.
- And lastly, Year-End, Dec. 31 is the charitable giving deadline for the roughly 20 million taxpayers who itemize charitable gifts and is traditionally one of the most popular days of the year for online and direct mail gifts.
- Cash Gifts—Making online contributions and giving by cash or check are the most common ways to make charitable gifts and are key components of most year-end campaigns. This year, gifts of cash are deductible up to 60% of AGI, and unused deductions can be carried over for up to five years. Remind your donors that mailed checks should be postmarked by Dec. 31 or direct them to your online giving portal for a quick and simple gift.
- Other Giving Options—Include communications that highlight the benefits of noncash gifts such as stocks or mutual funds, gifts through a will or living trust or making a qualified charitable distribution through a retirement plan. By taking the time to present an opportunity for donors to carefully consider what to give, you can help ensure their gifts are made in a timely manner and in the most effective and tax-efficient ways.
- Thank Your Donors—This is an important step in any giving campaign. Sending an email, making a call or writing a letter thanking a donor can go a long way toward building a relationship. However you choose to thank your donors, be sure to provide insight into how their donation will help your organization by explaining your goals and anticipated accomplishments for the upcoming year. Following up with donors is also an opportunity to suggest other beneficial ways to give that increase income, provide for others, reduce taxes or memorialize a loved one.
By Jana Lawyer, Senior Consultant