While the clock is ticking on 2021, annual appeals are out the door and we’re all starting to put off tasks and meetings until January, it’s not too late to make sure your organization is top of mind for your supporters as they make year-end giving decisions.
My colleagues and I are constantly hearing a few things from our clients as we check in with them on year-end fundraising. First, gifts of appreciated securities and IRA distributions are up significantly; and second, donors who made standard annual gifts earlier in the year are making additional gifts this December. These trends can be traced to the return of a strong stock market, giving people more cash on hand to make tax-advantaged charitable contributions.
Interested in closing last-minute gifts? Here are Campbell & Company’s six (6) considerations you can execute between now and December 31 to benefit from this flurry of philanthropy:
Review your portfolio, identify those who are 70 ½ or older, and call them to ask if they’ve considered making a gift donation through their IRA. The qualified charitable distribution (QCD) rule allows individuals over 70 ½ years old to transfer up to $100,000 from their IRA to a qualified charity each year. And individuals who are over 72 years old must take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from their IRA each year.
Some people might not need these funds, especially when distributions are likely high given the strong market. They may prefer to direct their RMD to an organization, to avoid an increase in total taxable income that the distribution would entail. Make sure they know about this option and have the instructions for initiating this transfer on hand.
Be prepared to make the case to donors considering an additional gift for why you need more support now. Although many donors are making the decision to give without being asked, some will want to know why your organization should be the destination for their additional contributions. Is there a specific project or initiative that an annual fund surplus would allow you to pursue? Are you counting on generous unrestricted giving to help mitigate the negative impact of COVID on your earned revenue streams?
Be ready to respond with a few talking points on how you will put their increased giving to good use.
If you have donors in solicitation for a campaign or multi-year major gift, consider asking them for a “starter” or “placeholder” gift. Maybe you have a handful of donors you have recently solicited for a campaign or multi-year pledges who have asked for more time to consider their gift. You want to respect their request, but also wonder how you can take advantage of year-end to accelerate their support. One possibility would be to ask if they can make an increased annual gift—or perhaps the equivalent to what the first-year pledge payment of the multi-year commitment you asked for would be—now. This is a way for them to support your organization’s current needs without having to commit to a long-term gift before they are ready.
If you’re an annual giving guru:
Blast your email list with a “ways to give” message. You’ve mailed your annual appeal and followed up with a reminder email or two, but it’s not a bad idea to send another simple message to all your donors and potential donors outlining the different gift vehicles they can use to make a gift. This might include a link to your online donation page to make a credit card gift; instructions for stock transfers; instructions for making a grant from a donor-advised fund; instructions for IRA transfers; and of course, your mailing address for donors who want to send a check. Remember to shorten the email by linking to the appropriate web pages if you have the information on your website. Be wary of overly long or suspicious-looking URLs, as they could cause some readers to interpret the email as a phishing attempt.
Don’t forget to reach out to your current donors. As noted above, many people who have already given to you this calendar year might consider a second gift—but probably not unless you ask for one! If your current-year donors were not included in your year-end solicitation, consider sending them a special e-appeal thanking them for their support, updating them on the impact of their earlier gift, and inviting them to consider a second contribution this holiday season. You can even repurpose the talking points your gift officers are using with their repeat donors for this message!
If you’re a board member or fundraising volunteer:
Pick up the phone and call a peer to thank them for their support. If your volunteer leaders have time to squeeze in one call on your behalf before the end of the year, ask them to reach out to a long-term donor they are very familiar with, to thank them for their support—no ask necessary. The personal touch might spark a last-minute gift, and if not, it’s a great way to remind your closest supporters how much they mean to you.
Good luck with the remainder of your year-end fundraising and drop us a line if you try any of these and have success! Wishing you all a happy, healthy holiday season.
Campbell & Company is a national nonprofit consulting firm that helps organizations create greater impact through fundraising, executive search, communications, and strategic information services. Since 1976, Campbell & Company has helped shape the evolution of fundraising as a practice and philanthropy as a force. We are passionate about helping our clients succeed. Our values – Integrity, Partnership, Candor, Inclusion, Rigor, Creativity – define and guide how we approach our work with organizations. Because when we serve our clients, we change the world for the better.
For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to launch the Campbell & Company team within your organization.