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Top 5 things to do before leaving for the holidays

It's the most wonderful time of the year, right? Let me rephrase.....It's the most hectic time of the year!

With the hustle and bustle and good cheer, there are five essentials you must take care of before you and your development team go over the river and through the woods to....spin a dreidel, dreidel, dreidel.
1) Make sure your stock transfer information is accurate on your website and that there is a rock-solid plan in place to handle all last minute gifts of all kinds. Your donor will not be happy if they send their gift to the wrong broker and the delay causes their stock to lose value to the tune of, hmmm, say around $50K....yes, that happened but thankfully not on my watch!

2) Alert your tax savvy donors who are 70 1/2 years and older that they can give your charity up to $100K from their IRA. This deal, which has historically needed Congressional approval, is set to expire (again) on December 31, 2013, so now is the time to toot the Charitable IRA Rollover horn! This gift is perfect for donors who, at 70 1/2 years of age, must take a mandatory distribution, but don't need the income. With a Charitable IRA Rollover, your donor won't have to pay any taxes on the distribution as long as they roll it over directly to a qualified charity (with the exception of private foundations, donor advised funds, and supporting organizations). And since IRA's are HEAVILY taxed when left in an estate, they lose considerable value if left to heirs.
3) Use the end of the calendar year to create a sense of urgency with donors who have been solicited but have not yet made a firm commitment. C'mon, asking is the easy part, right?! Closing gifts takes skill and deadlines and/or a sense of urgency of any kind, as long as it is legitimate, can be a helpful strategy to increase your success. Use it. Own it.

​4) Thank your top supporters for their ongoing support, even if they haven't made a gift yet, and don't ask them for anything. Calm down....this outreach is in addition to anything your annual giving team might be sending them! Write a personal note, share interesting updates, and let your best donors know that you are thinking of them, wishing them well and looking forward to seeing them at XYZ event, or calling them in the new year to update them on ABC, etc. If the note is more effective coming from someone else (senior leaders or board members) facilitate that process. Personal attention that is genuine and seeks nothing in return is how you build meaningful relationships with donors. It's the difference between transactional fundraising and relational fundraising.
5) Assuming you took my advice from an earlier blog and have already scheduled a meeting to review your progress in early January, write your To Do list before you head out so that you can hit the ground running once you are back in the office.....and running might not be such a bad idea after all the cookies, latkes, roast beast and sufganiyot.
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