Year-End Planning: 3 Tips to Give You Momentum Heading Into the Season

Are we really here? It’s the end of August, you say?

For many, it’s final summer vacations and back-to-school time. For us in the nonprofit community, we know it’s also the season to plan our year-end giving outreach.

Maybe you’ve been through this many times before and it feels like déjà vu. Or perhaps this is your very first year-end and you’re not exactly sure where to start.

Let’s look at the data and remind ourselves why this time of year matters:

  • One-third of all nonprofit donations occur in the final month of the year.
  • That’s roughly $48 billion donated to nonprofits in November and December each year.

Year-end giving boosts your organization’s mission and momentum. It also motivates your nonprofit on a more personal level: Your supporters believe in your work.

Whatever the reasons behind their gifts—altruistic, financial, the season of giving or likely a mix of all three—your supporters are taking time to contemplate or commit to a year-end gift.

3 Tips to Sharpen Your Year-End Outreach

1. Tailor your messaging to gifts that maximize tax benefits.

Many supporters are looking at their finances during the final months of the year to determine the best way to minimize taxes. Show donors that you’re tuned into the types of gifts that may work best for them right now.

Our senior gift planning consultant, Lynn M. Gaumer, J.D., says two of the most popular year-end gifts your donors will be interested in are qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) and stock.

Why QCDs: “Many individuals have yet to use all of their required minimum distribution for the year, so those who are 73 and older may be looking for a way to make tax-efficient gifts from their IRA and lower their taxable income,” says Lynn.

Why stock: “Many experts agree that most stock donations occur in the final months of the year. This is because donors choose to make these charitable contributions to maximize their tax benefits. When donating appreciated stock, donors qualify for an income tax deduction, and they eliminate capital gains taxes on the appreciated value of the stocks. For some donors this could be significant, as there is a lot of gain in the stock market. The Dow Jones recently closed at 34,288. One year ago, it closed at 31,790; five years ago, it closed at 26,125; 10 years ago, it closed at 14,841.”

Tactic: Some organizations are starting to promote “Stock Monday” (the Monday after Thanksgiving) as a lead-in to why giving can be especially advantageous. 

2. Use an infographic to tie dollars donated to impact generated. 

Some sources claim that 65% of the population are visual learners. Infographics guide the eye—and brain!—through the story you want to tell. They also serve as a universal language; graphics, numbers and percentages are often more easily understood by a wider audience than words alone.

Remember to do this: Focus on all the great things your donors have helped to accomplish, not all the great things your nonprofit has done because it’s so… great.

Who was helped, for example, as a direct result of your donors’ generosity? How many scholarships awarded? How many meals provided? Successful year-end fundraising can set a positive tone for the upcoming year so your organization can do even more in 2024. 

Resource: Don’t have a graphic designer on staff? Check out Canva and Piktochart for free and/or low-cost help.

3. Get ahead of Giving Tuesday.

Nearly half of nonprofits launch their year-end outreach in November, with Giving Tuesday as the official kickoff. Many of our clients choose to begin a month or two earlier, with at least a top-level article in their September/October newsletters about the benefits of year-end giving.

Consider a fall year-end outreach rollout.

  • Embed a short tease in other already established fall donor communications such as a print newsletter, social media post or email send.
  • Communicating through multiple channels is key—7 out of 10 donors research and respond through multiple media.

Worried you sound like a broken record? Don’t. Donors aren’t as invested in every piece of material you send as you are. In fact, it takes 7 times before a message sticks.

BONUS: 2 Tips From Our Strategists

  1. Take time now to review your organization’s online donation form. Do you include a checkbox for donors to share that they’ve chosen to include your organization in their estate plans? Or to request information about planned giving? Work with your digital team to develop or test the right checkbox options for your organization.
  2. Incorporate small but effective reminders about legacy giving everywhere. These placements may not generate a legacy gift right now, but they’ll surely jolt the reader’s memory. “Oh, yes, that’s right, I need to do that because I want to do that!” Remember the rule of 7? Add language to your email signature, as a buck slip in your thank-you letters, or as highly visible stories or testimonials.

Anything you’d like to share about your year-end planned giving outreach? Tactics, tips or feedback from your invested supporters about what works—and what doesn’t? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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