As the Thanksgiving Day holiday fades into the rearview mirror and Giving Tuesday (five days after Thanksgiving) looms, it is time for smaller NFP organizations to think about making final fundraising campaigns for the year. 

  1. It is definitely worthwhile to make the last minute pitch for contributions for both Giving Tuesday and for year end.  While an email blast is definitely in order (and maybe all you can do prior to Giving Tuesday) , your organization might think of a little more personal message, such as a video of your staff. People react better to seeing other people and identifying with them rather than getting a more impersonal email request. 
  2. Make sure your website has a very visible donation button as the website opens.  Do not make potential donors hunt for ways to make a contribution.  Make it easy for them.
  3. Stay away from saying “Your contribution is tax deductible!”.  Yes, it is but only if the donor itemizes their charitable contributions on Schedule A of Form 1040.  Remember, the standard deduction is $25,900 for a married couple filing jointly in 2022 and will be even higher in 2023.  Since state tax deductions (both income  and property tax) and mortgage interest deductions are capped, it is extremely difficult for couples to itemize  deductions unless they make large charitable contributions or have extraordinary medical expenses. It is even tougher in 2022 since the limited “above the line” charitable contribution deduction has been eliminated. This was an expedient that was adopted during the COVID crisis and was never intended to be permanent. Instead of focusing on the tax deductibility, NFPs should focus on the intrinsic value of contributing. Making a charitable deduction is a great good in itself. Economists even have a name for this phenomenon: other regarding preferences. People attach value to the well being of others as an end in itself.  That should be your main selling point. 
  4. Have your year end forecast ready. Knowing what the contributions will be used for will be helpful when answering questions from donors about why your organization needs the funds.
  5. Time to do winter cleaning.  This is a great time to reconcile all of your general ledger asset and liability accounts to the subsidiary ledgers.  Why is that important?  There are a couple of reasons.  First, any unrecorded donations hung up in suspense accounts or as a reconciling item in a bank reconciliation can be appropriately recorded before year end.  We will come back to the importance of this in a moment.  Second, these unreconciled transactions can often be the result of fraud or losses resulting from poor accounting controls.  You do not want to be embarrassed by announcing an unanticipated loss midway through a contribution campaign. Third, reconciling accounts now and taking care of any issues will assist in closing the books at year end as the accounts will be clean through calendar year end. 
  6. Make sure you are ready to provide charitable contribution information to your donors at year end.  While your organization may use a fiscal year for bookkeeping purposes, your donors will be filing their tax returns on a calendar year basis. Even though the odds of actually using a charitable contribution deduction have been greatly reduced, a few of your  larger donors might still be able to use their deduction.  This is why going through your general ledger before year end and reconciling the accounts is of such importance.  You want to make sure all of your donors’ contributions have been appropriately accounted for.  Large donors may be scared away from contributing  in subsequent years by the appearance of poor controls over donations. Remember, the IRS requires an organization to provide adequate contemporaneous documentation of charitable contributions for donors.  This is a complex topic when it comes to noncash contributions so you may need help on the required reporting.   Also, remember that volunteer services are not deductible. 

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