Year-End Giving 2020: Start Early, Later or Both!

2020 started out pretty well with the economy and stock market booming. Things looked good … and then they didn’t. In January, a “flu-like virus” appeared on the other side of the globe. By February, a global pandemic had been declared, and the U.S. economy had slipped into a recession, ending the longest period of economic expansion (more than ten years) ever.

In March, the stock market crashed by more than a third, and a severe economic contraction continued. The GDP experienced a large fall in the second quarter, and unemployment figures exploded. Growing social and political unrest compounded the economic problems.

All of these events have impacted the philanthropic world, and many fundraisers have experienced a dramatic reduction in revenue and fundraising results.

The end of the year 2020 is approaching: What is your plan for year-end fundraising? “Business as usual” will probably not be good enough, nor will dusting off last year’s plan and going through the motions. Why?

Yet another wild card in the 2020 fundraising calendar is the national election that is likely to see more marketing than ever before. This could lead to unprecedented “static” on every communications channel.

One relatively simple strategy is to minimize overlap with anticipated political messaging that will drown out your appeals. Adjust your messaging to occur before and after the election, particularly the three weeks or so leading up to November 3 and the week or so afterward. This may mean pushing up a year-end mail appeal to September or early October and adjusting your email and social media campaigns as well.

The year-end giving season is usually the most generous time of the year, so don’t let the election derail your plans. Instead, adjust and start early, then give things a short breather and end the year strong with an extra effort in November and December.

Traditionally, the weeks between Thanksgiving and December 31 mark a period of widespread generosity. This is a time when people are conditioned to give to others. Remind your donors how their gifts impact your mission and how they can maximize their charitable gifts by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by the charitable provisions of the CARES Act, qualified charitable distributions from IRAs, gifts of stock if the market is high, donor advised funds and boosting or bunching deductions with planned gifts, etc.

When the dust settles, there will likely be an overall decrease in philanthropic activity, but those who have adjusted their plans for giving during the critical year-end period should fare better than those who did not.

For materials to help you encourage year-end gifts, click here.

By Barlow Mann, General Counsel
 

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