It’s hard to believe it, but there are only 65 days left in the calendar year. That means there are only 65 days left to maximize your year-end tax strategy. Now there’s a loaded statement.
While it is true that the vast majority of funds received come in during the last 8 weeks of the year, it has been my experience that the majority of dollars (not necessarily majority of donors) have already been accounted for — they have either made a pledge or have at least allocated their donation in their head and are using this time of year to redeem their commitment.
I have found that January is a typically quiet time for large donations. Why is that, you ask? Well, the answer is quite logical — there is no difference in the tax receipt treatment if an individual donor pays their commitment in January or in December (as long as it is the same calendar year) — they get the same charitable tax receipt for that calendar year. Larger donors usually want to hold on to their cash as long as possible so it ‘works for them’ throughout the year.
How many charities send out large mass emails reminding people of the end of the year tax deadline (like we didn’t know it was coming)? There are certain charities that can naturally tie in the holidays/end of year into their cycle of asking (like sponsoring a Christmas dinner or providing gifts for underprivileged children under the tree). For the rest of the charities, I would ask you to look in the mirror and ask what your motivation is for sending out year-end appeals. Is it simply something that you are trained to do? Is there a natural tie in with year-end or is it artificial? Remember that most donors are not motivated by tax relief as a reason for their benevolence.
So it all comes down to the case — making sure that the reason you are asking for support resonates well with your audience and that it isn’t contrived. Donors are more sophisticated today than they have ever been and can see through false urgency. Just because other charities are focused on the holiday season, you have to ask yourself if you want to be one of many (and perhaps get lost in the crowd) or if you would like to choose another time of the year and really stand out.