Thanksgiving is in just 9 days. We take a break from the typical hustle bustle of life and experience enjoyable times with family and friends and of course good food – and lots of it. And then on Friday morning, when we open up our email and our USPS mail, it starts:
The barrage of requests for contributions from many worthy causes.
If you signed up for a newsletter from a not-for-profit, you know that you will have at least 4 emails beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving and ending on December 31 asking for a contribution. And if you are already a supporter of that organization, there might be more than 4.
Many organizations drop their end of year mailings to arrive just after Thanksgiving. Some even before, the idea being so it doesn’t get lost among the holiday cards, and other organizational requests. Some even send a second mailing mid-December.
So what should synagogue leaders do?
Maybe you don’t want to be a part of this donor barrage. But, as a number of my mentors have preached to me, the mantra should be “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. There is no need to be embarrassed about asking congregants for money. Many of them have outstanding dues/annual commitments. There are tax advantages for making payments and contributions in December. That combined with the very real budgetary need for cash, contributions, and the satisfaction of commitments calls out for action now.
Here are 5 ideas you might consider:
- Invoice on November 27th. Maybe not the usual invoice. Add in some “warm and fuzzy” text about how quickly the year has gone. That Hanukkah starts in December 12th and will be another opportunity for celebration with family and friends and as a community. Encourage payment by December 31 to take credit on their 2017 taxes. And always allow congregants the opportunity to make their payments online.
- Ask Congregants to consider paying with gifts of appreciated stock. The synagogue will have to have a brokerage account. For congregants, gifting appreciated stock is one of the most effective means of tax savings available. Donors avoid capital gains and paying tax on such a gift. And congregants are able to take a charitable deduction for the full market value of the stock at the time of the gift.
- Have an email campaign through December 31. I know, everyone else is asking and you are hesitant. Congregants won’t know that the synagogue needs the money unless you tell them, and ask. Send out 4-5 emails: one the week of November 27th (participating in #GivingTuesday is an option). Use 30-60 second videos of congregants who share how the synagogue has impacted their lives. Don’t forget to include a link – a couple of times – that allows and encourages online giving.
- Boomers 70 and 1/2+ can contribute through an IRA distribution. I get that this is a selective group. But for congregants who are in this demographic, this is a really good deal that benefits them and the synagogue. For congregations who utilize IRA distributions as charitable contributions, such distributions aren’t included as income, so they are not taxed. And they receive the benefit of a charitable contribution as well. So send out a couple of email blasts between Thanksgiving and December 10th to remind such Boomers about this option.
- Make A Plan, Do Something, And Don’t Be Afraid To Ask! You have to create your end-of-year campaign plan today. As Thanksgiving is on 11/23, you have an extra week for implementation.
Don’t wait until December. Do something now!