Welcome to your Monthly Clairification Tip!
Who can forget that Valentine’s Day is this month?
- What an opportune time to show your donors some love. Send donors valentines to show them your love (if you want to plan further in advance, consider doing something like this for Mother’s or Father’s Day). For some great ideas, check out my Pinterest boards: (1) Zee Happy Valentine’s Day, and (2) Gratitude: Nonprofits Say Thanks. Also see 8 Top Ways to Send Nonprofit Donors Love on Valentine’s Day.
- You may also wish to consider a Valentine’s Day themed fundraising campaign. (1) Consider asking folks to send a valentine in honor of a loved one — something that shows the true meaning of love. (2) Partner with a local bakery or chocolatier to offer discounts to everyone who makes a Valentine’s Day donation. (3) Ask a retailer (a florist?) to give a % of every sale on Valentine’s Day to your organization.
The spring is a great time to focus on major donor cultivation and stewardship.
Spring is right around the corner! If you don’t have a major donor team, now is the time to create one. Major gifts are a team effort. Here are a few ideas to help you move forward with your major donor relationship-building strategies:
- Develop a plan to strengthen individual connections with your best donors and prospects. Make two lists. One of your top (25) current donors; one of your top (10) major donor prospects. The first is to assure you retain and upgrade the key supporters you already have. The second is to keep feeding your pipeline and grow your important major donor cadre. You’ll want to roll this plan out during the next eight months in order to prepare to kick into solicitation gear during the last three months of the calendar year (this is true even if you operate on a fiscal year; most donors think on a calendar year basis, and you’ve got to be donor-centered if you want to reap the benefits of their greatest generosity.
- Recommit to getting out of the office. If you don’t meet your donor prospects face to face you won’t get very far. Fundraising is a contact sport.
- Set a firm goal for how many major donor visits you’ll accomplish each month. You’ll accomplish some personally; others will be done by your executive director, other staff, board members and other volunteers. Your job is to make assignments, hold everyone’s feet to the fire, and help them understand this is a team effort. Remember, not every visit is a solicitation. Mix it up, as appropriate, with:
— Thank you visits: “I just want to thank you personally, and drop something by.” (This is a good time to bring a little something personal; I bake cookies, but you can bring jam, coffee, tea, a plant, a card signed by staff or people you help… something that is inexpensive but shows thoughtful appreciation).
— Advice visits: “I want your feedback, opinion, thoughts…”
— Update visits: “I’d love to share our latest project…”
— “I’d love to hear your story” visits (great if you’d like to showcase them in a newsletter or as part of a blog post)
— Let your friends be our friends visits: “Can you help us with some strategies to find more folks like you to support our work?”
Begin planning to adapt to the new Tax Law
Good news: The sky is not falling. Tax benefits are icing on the philanthropy cake. Humans have given long before the existence of charitable deductions. Philanthropy helps people fulfill their higher purpose. People like helping, making a difference and doing the right thing. The primary reason people give is not to get a tax deduction.
Bad news: If you’ve relied on language about tax deductions to inspire philanthropy, you must revise your strategy. This is just sound fundraising advice. Focus on impact, not money. Most passionate philanthropy stems from deeply held values. People who care deeply will do so regardless of the economy. They stick with you through thick and thin. Because… they believe.
Bottom line: Focus on turning folks into believers. Anchor your appeals by telling people value-laden stories that inspire them to jump into narrative and become hero. Don’t lead with “last week to get a tax deduction!” Most donor heroes still want the cake, iced or not. Still… if you want to give donors an extra push, there are some big tax advantages left unchanged.So you can still be smart and helpful by reminding donors:
- Donate appreciated assets; avoid capital gains on appreciation. Encourage them to (1) take cash they would have donated and (2) immediately buy identical stocks to replace them. Their investment portfolio won’t change; their “new” asset now has a 100% basis, so no capital gains tax will be paid on any past appreciation. It’s truly a win/win, especially because now you have your donor thinking about gifts from assets ( “big bucket”) rather than simply gifts from disposable income (“little bucket”).
- Give out of your donor advised fund. Ask donors if they have one. Many bunched 2017 and 2018 donations into a single large gift before the law changed; there may be money waiting to be distributed.
- Give out of your IRA. Did you know 8000 boomers turn 70 every day? Once you turn 70 1/2 you’re required to take a minimum distribution from your IRA. This can throw you into a higher tax bracket. But you get a tax advantage if you make a qualified IRA distribution directly to charity. It doesn’t count as income to you, it counts toward the required distribution, and the tax benefit is the same whether or not the donor itemizes.
Focus on what’s within your control (solid fundraising), not what’s outside your control (tax legislation).We give gifts to our friends and family without the promise of a tax deduction in return. The same is true for political candidates. It’s because we love them and believe in them. Folks who love and believe in causes do the same.