‘Tis the season … for giving.

Maximize charitable giving now and throughout the year.

By Bethany Peak

Emmett Peak meets Santa.
He is not impressed.

Snowmen melt on front lawns, peppermint lattes are sipped, and terrified children cry on Santa’s lap … the season of giving is upon us! If your organization is like most charities, you rely on a bump in giving this time of year, but figuring out what makes donations rise in December could increase gifts to your charity all year long.

“Money for Good II,” a recent study by GuideStar and Hope Consulting, revealed that donors want to see impact and effectiveness data from your charity. That is, they want to see how you are actually using their funds to make a difference. Because, according to Greg Ulrich, Director of Advisory Services at Hope Consulting, “we are living in a world of reactive giving, where we give to our brother-in-law to support his marathon; to our friend hosting a fundraiser; to a phone call or mailing we receive …,” nonprofits need to show how they are meeting their mission. This means demonstrating your impact, financials, and legitimacy in order to attract more donors and receive more funds.

MFGII also concluded that if nonprofits were to provide donors with the information they want, where and how they want it, it would shift up to 15 billion charitable dollars to higher-performing nonprofits. So, how do you put this into practice and receive a piece of that $15 billion?

Connect with donors. Honestly communicate your vision, mission, or project. Donors give because they relate to an organization’s mission and the people who accomplish that mission. Next, show the connection between your mission and your performance. Demonstrate how your impact in the past influences what you expect to accomplish in the future. Since tax savings is typically a secondary issue for donors, you are likely to reach far more supporters by providing detailed information, focused on impact.

Keep giving simple. Outright gifts work for most people and are appropriate for donors who want to see their charitable dollars at work in their lifetime. More-complex giving instruments (think charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, etc.) are typically only appropriate for people with unique wealth, income, and estate issues.

Be transparent. Offer donors a copy of your 501(c)(3) determination letter. If you are a church and don’t have a determination letter, explain why it is not required for your organization. Donors will appreciate your openness and candor in every stage of the fundraising process, which is essential to building and keeping long-term donor trust.

Substantiate donations in writing. Give donors receipts for their gifts. Include the date, amount, and your charity’s name. If the donation is for a non-cash item, note the description, condition, and, if possible, the fair market value of the item. (Contact us if you have questions about special rules applying to gifts of items worth more than $500.)

Focus on the long term. Sure giving in December will boost funds for the year, but encouraging a culture of giving will boost funds all year long! For additional information regarding charitable solicitation and methods of giving and receiving funds, contact us on our website.

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