Boost Year-end Donations to Your Nonprofit

You likely already know that year end is the optimal time for not-for-profits to conduct gift-giving campaigns. Donors are more generous during the holidays, and many people wait until the last minute to make tax-deductible gifts before the Dec. 31 deadline.

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 some tips for motivating donors.

Inform Givers About Deductions

alarm clock on a wooden table with fireworks exploding in the background

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Best Practices

To maximize your year-end campaign's results, consider these best practices:

Start Now

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.

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