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It's January 1...Now What?!

The rush of the holiday season is starting to fade away. Giving Tuesday is a distant memory. The final appeal slips have been recorded, the checks have been cashed, and the credit cards have been processed. Your development team is settling in for a long winter’s nap - or a traditional slow down in donor activity.

Not so fast.

For many years, the development world assumed that the only checks people would be writing in January and February were to the credit card companies for their holiday purchases. We would half-heartedly write an appeal letter set to go out at the end of January or early February reminding people that we are still here and if they had a few extra dollars, they could send them our way.

But what we’ve found in recent years is that winter can be a very fruitful time for fundraising. New IRS regulations allow donors to make certain types of gifts up until they file their taxes. Winter months are often a time of reflection for people, giving them a chance to revisit and revise their estate plans. And with much of our discretionary income put on hold right now, some donors are finding great joy in sending a few extra dollars to their charities of choice.

Consider this. A few years ago, we worked with an organization who put together a simple February postcard asking a segment of their donor base if they were “our secret admirer.” Based on a Valentine’s Day theme, it was a quick way to uncover those donors who had left the charity in their estate plans, but forgot to tell them. We helped the organization uncover nearly $1,000,000 in unknown planned gifts.

And how many calls and emails do we receive from donors in the first quarter of the year asking for copies of their donation history as they file their taxes? A tax statement mailing is a great way to remind people of their donations and it also provides them the opportunity to get a jump start on this year’s giving.

Finally, maybe it’s time to put that board and development committee to work. While they may not want to call and ask someone for a gift, most are willing to make a few phone calls to say thanks to your donors. Thank-a-thons are a great way to encourage volunteer participation and to provide a very important touchpoint to your donor base.

While the rest of the development world is taking a break, now is your chance to get a jump start on the year. Here’s to a happy and fruitful 2021!

Cape Fletcher Associates

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