Wisdom Wednesdays: Closing Year-End Gifts — the Countdown to December 31, Part Three

by Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE

Back to Part Two

As a professional fundraiser, your goal is to encourage, motivate and inspire your donors to give a gift before December 31 — not just this year but every year they have a relationship with your organization.

Miller-Dawn-webWhen preparing your year-end fundraising strategy, consider the following donor questions to help pace your work:

  • Who’s closest to the gift? In other words, which donors are most likely to give a gift before the end of the year?
    We know that once a donor has lapsed, it becomes much more difficult to reengage him or her. Encourage as many gifts this year as possible.
  • What specific steps can you take to bring these donors closer to your organization before December 31?
    Remember, fundraising is truly about building relationships and each “move” should reinforce the relationship between the donor and your organization.
  • Which donors are part of your organization’s “inner circle” but haven’t made a gift this year? Think in particular of board members, advisory committees, volunteers, etc.
    This is important for many reasons — including the many foundations and corporations that expect 100 percent annual board giving prior to making their own commitments.
  • What stories, photos and stats can you share with donors to show the impact your organization is making?

Now is also the time to plan ahead for a final December 15-31 push to help drive the last gifts in the door. Consider emphasizing online gifts and giving through your website, especially if your office is closed between the holidays. Utilize email blast software (i.e., Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.), and/or send postcards with an update on where you are to goal — “We are 92 percent to goal …” These actions, which can be set up in advance, could provide the final impetus needed for donations this year.

Just a quick note on best practices and counting gifts in calendar year 2013:

  • Checks: Postmarked by December 31, 2013 – The date on the check is not a legal date. The customary “legal” date of the gift is the date of postmark.
  • Credit cards: Contributions charged on a bank credit card are deductible in the year they make the charge. The legal gift date is the date the charge hits the donor’s account.
  • Stock certificates: A properly endorsed stock certificate is completed on the date of mailing or other delivery to the charity or to the charity’s agent. However, if a stock certificate is given to an agent or to the issuing corporation for transfer to the name of the charity, the gift is not completed until the date the stock is transferred on the books of the corporation.
  • Items sent by third parties: For items sent via third parties (i.e., FedEx, UPS, etc.) the gift date is the date signed for the package, not the date it was sent.

~Please note: If your organization has questions about counting gifts in 2013,
consult your tax adviser and online resources (IRS, associations, etc.).

By charting your donor course today, you can implement creative strategies to close year-end gifts to sustain the mission of your organization. Good luck with your year-end solicitations!

Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE, is Director of Consulting for Fund Development Services at Zielinski Companies in St. Louis, Missouri.  She can be reached at dmiller@zielinskico.com (800) 489-2150Zielinski Companies is an ALDE Resource Partner. 

Founded in 1957, Zielinski Companies helps nonprofit and religious organizations address their financial, management and planning needs.  The firm has a broad range of consulting service areas, including: Fund Development and Mission Advancement Consulting; Audit, Accounting and Tax Services; Property and Facility Planning; Organizational Management and Planning; Long-term Care, Facility and Staffing Consulting and Cash Management and Credit Card Services.  For more information, please visit www.zielinskico.com.


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