For not for profit organizations, including synagogues and other houses of worship, December is the best month for cash.
It is the end of the year and we are all thinking of year-end contributions. You know that after Thanksgiving, we will all be receiving many requests for contributions via regular mail a well as email. (Read my recent blog on #givingtuesday). What should you synagogue do?
-Encourage congregants to pay whatever outstanding balance they have on dues/annual commitments by December 31st to take advantage of including December payments among their 2014 charitable contributions on their tax returns. Remember, payments for dues/annual commitments are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. Payments for Religious School tuition, Early Childhood, and Adult Education are not tax deductible.
-For congregants who have already paid their dues in full, send them a letter or email asking them for an additional contribution equal to one month of dues.
-Send out a letter by regular mail asking all congregants to include the synagogue in their year-end giving with a special gift of $100.
-Email the entire congregation on December 16th (the first night of Hanukkah) and December 31st asking congregants for an end of year $100 contribution and providing them with the link to make an online contribution.
-Encourage congregants to pay their dues/annual commitments with appreciated assets, such as stocks, which may give them additional tax savings. This opportunity won’t be for everyone. But for those who buy and trade stocks, it could be a very good deal.
Remember, when you send in a contribution, it is the date of the postmark that is key. If you send in a check or credit card payment that is postmarked on December 31st, 2014, and the synagogue receives it on January 2nd or 3rd, you are entitled to a 2014 tax deduction for this contribution.
For donations of stock, the key date is when the stock is transferred into an account of the synagogue. If it is on or before December 31st, the contribution is viewed by the IRS as being made in 2014. It is not the date that the stock is sold.
The important thing here is to have a plan to make an effort to encourage congregants to pay their dues/annual commitment balances in December. And you want to ask congregants to include the synagogue in their year-end giving with contributions over and above dues/annual commitments as well. Congregants may need some prodding. And if you don’t remind them, and provide them with a way to make the payment (invoice, letter, email), it will only occur by happenstance.