With tax season upon us, our thoughts (and probably a board meeting fundraising topic or two) turn to deductible charitable donations.
Do donors take advantage of tax benefits? Yes, some do.
Do donors give for tax reasons? No, most don’t.
This distinction is important and should shape how you ask and how you thank donors.
Start with how you ask:
Don’t lead with “we are a 501C3 organization…” Only accountants care about your tax status. When you talk about your organization, lead with how you change the world.
- “We save lives…”
- “We create jobs…”
- “We make the world a more beautiful place…”
- “Insert your organization’s mission here…” (If your mission statement mentions your tax status, put that at the top of your priority list to revise.)
From your website to social media posts to fundraising letters, look for anyplace you use “tax deductible” and substitute “world changing” for a more impactful appeal. Most people give money because they are asked, not because of how it impacts their taxes.
Continue when you say thanks*:
The IRS has specific requirements donation acknowledgments. However, there are no rules saying you have to use only that language – that’s the minimum required. Go beyond that with a sincere expression of how much the donation means and how it will change lives. Don’t be boring, this acknowledgement is the first building block to your next ask. Your nonprofit is doing important work – you’re making our community a better place to live! Show the donor that their gift matters in doing just that.
- Tell a story.
- Share a photo.
- Share the joy you felt when the gift was received.
Taxes are an inevitable part of our lives and certainly a consideration in our work. However, they must be kept in perspective when we communicate with our donors and remember that we are inviting people to help us change the world, not help them with their taxes.
*This blog post should not be considered legal advice, so please speak to an attorney/CPA to make sure that your communications meet the legal requirements set forth by the IRS.