Sunday, November 4, 2007

Make it Easy for Donors to Give

Last year, I included a brief paragraph in some newsletter about how "Central Dallas Ministries accepts donations of appreciated assets such as stock and real estate."

Someone who had never donated called me up to ask for more information. I set up a meeting, and next thing I know... we start getting quarterly transfers of around $20,000 from him.

If you are not setting up a system for accepting such gifts (which admittedly take some time and can be a bit difficult to track down once the transfer is made), you are missing out on major opportunities.

This article states it well:

Most Stockholders Don't Understand Tax Breaks for Donating Securities, Study Finds - Philanthropy.com

Sixty-eight percent of the investors were unaware of the tax benefits of giving appreciated stock rather than selling it — namely, that they could save 15 percent of the amount by which their stock had appreciated in capital-gains tax, on top of the deduction they would receive by donating either stock or cash.
One of your primary goals as a fundraiser should be to remove as many barriers as possible that your prospect might face to making a donation. This includes:

  • Use business reply (i.e. postage paid) envelopes for your newsletters/appeals; if they cannot find a stamp and don't want to make an online gift, you may lose the gift;
  • Develop a plan for accepting non-cash gifts: cars, trucks, boats, real estate, clothes, food, and more. Definitely consider developing a policy in which you can turn down gifts, and also develop a policy for pick-ups. It's OK to tell people "no." If they stop donating or get mad at you because of it, they are probably the sort of high maintenance donor you don't want anyway.
  • Develop a plan for accepting stocks and mutual funds (see above).
  • Your Web site's primary purpose should be to cultivate a gift out of a prospective donor. Don't make them click through page after page to find your "donate now" button. Put it on the front page. Better yet, build a common header/sidebar that is on every page and that includes this button.
  • Be sure your receptionist knows what to do when a donor calls to make a gift and no development staff are in the office.
  • Be sure that your voicemail tells people to go to your Web site for more information.
  • If you have automatic answering service on your phone system, be sure to have an option, "For more information about making a donation, press ___."

The easier you make it for donors to make a gift, the more donors -- and donations -- you will have.