Year end giving is a great way to add a deadline for charitable gifts. While the fiscal year runs through June, it’s encouraging to have at least half of your fundraising goal met by the start of the new year. However, when people are focused on family and the holidays, how do you collect significant year end donations?
Use these three tips to get amazing year end giving results for your school this year.
Most people think of tax time as April 15, but to maximize tax deductions for the current calendar year, it’s important to make charitable gifts by December 31. A great way to get more donations is through gifting appreciated shares of stock instead of cash. If a donor has a stock that’s done particularly well this year, by gifting it to your school, the school receives the full value of the stock, while the donor gets to file a deduction for the full amount. This way the donor realizes the full value of his stock investment while giving a meaningful gift to your school.
You can put together an email campaign or direct mail flyer that highlights the tax advantages of year end giving to inform your constituents and drive donations by December 31. Make sure to provide a point of contact who can assist with securities transfers as well as other pertinent information to make these kinds of trades as simple as possible.
The Haverford School does an excellent job of including the gift of security instructions on its website, which can easily be transferred to an email or postcard, to garner year end giving.
Image courtesy of The Haverford School
It’s a win-win for your donors and your school. Your constituents benefit and your school likely receives a larger gift than it would have if the donor had given a cash gift.
In the spirit of the holiday season and spreading goodwill, it’s an excellent time to boast about your school’s achievements! Design a compelling and inspiring email or direct mail campaign that speaks to your most recent accomplishments. While many of your donors (i.e. parents) may be familiar with the goings-on at the school, your alumni base is likely less in the know. Give them a reason to feel pride in their alma mater and reminisce about their time at your school with an effective mailer. A thriving institution is a seamless way to establish goodwill and donations.
Consider your school’s credo, and show how the school continues to make strides toward bettering every student and its larger community. From academic awards, such as robotics championships, to student art shows to major sports victories, these are the achievements alumni and parents want to know about. After reading your campaign, they’re more likely to make a donation. Add a call to action that encourages year end giving donations and if you send an email, include a “donate now” button to make giving easy.
Last, but certainly not least, the holidays are a time when many alumni return home and spend time in their hometown. Put together a holiday event to get alumni back on campus and thinking about their school. If your school has any specific holiday traditions, such as a holiday parade or longstanding rival basketball game, invite them to have seasonal refreshments and snacks such as hot cocoa and cookies, before the event. Their nostalgia for the tradition will have them RSVP “Yes!”
At the event, make a short statement thanking them for being in attendance and informing them about how alumni participation is the backbone of the school’s ongoing success. This is also a key time to remind them that year end giving is critical to the success of the school and meeting its fundraising goals. Have donation forms and an iPad readily available for onsite donations. This soft touch will encourage gifts and get your year end donations up in no time, as well as your alumni participation numbers!
The Episcopal Academy has a longstanding sports tradition that occurs in November. All Fall sports, golf, soccer, football, cross country, and water polo, play their rival and the day brings out students, parents, and alumni of all ages. Episcopal has a landing page dedicated to the day where alumni are encouraged to attend and it provides all necessary details for the day.
Image courtesy of The Episcopal Academy
Including their alumni in this tradition keeps their connection to the school strong and who doesn’t love supporting a winning team? This is just one way to engage your alumni base and generate year end gifts.
With these three tips, your year end giving results are destined to increase. Give people a reason to donate and they will. Remember to stay true to your school and embrace its traditions and values to effectively fundraise during the holidays.
If you’re interested in more fundraising tips, email [email protected] to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.
Julie is a freelance writer and marketing consultant. Before becoming a full-time writer, she spent nearly ten years fundraising for non-profits and private schools, where she focused on alumni annual giving. She loves sharing her insights and helping schools improve their development efforts in service of fulfilling their missions of improving each child’s life.