The End Of The Year

17 more days until December 31.

I have already received at least 5 direct mail requests from worthy organizations I have contributed to in the past. Students from my college and grad school have even called me following up on the letters I received last week. The caller ID indicated that GWU and Columbia were calling and nostalgia was the encouragement to answer. While I marvel at what some organizations do to implement their end of year campaign plans, the onslaught can be a bit intrusive.

I have encouraged synagogue leaders to have an end of year campaign plan. There is still time. Here are some ideas.

  1. Earlier this month, invoices were sent out from the synagogue for outstanding obligations. Send them again this week with a reminder that paying before 12/31 is helpful for those needing 2016 tax deductions. And say thank you at least twice in the narrative on the invoice, or in the accompanying note.
  1. For congregants over 70 ½ years old, they can make charitable contributions directly from their IRAs. There were many years where it was not until early December that this provision was approved in Congress and the president, but only for that particular year. As of December 2015, it is now a permanent provision of our tax law. People who do this don’t have to pay capital gains on the distribution (it can be up to $100,000 annually) and are also able take a normal charitable tax deduction. Send a targeted email to this group of congregants.
  1. Send out an email by Monday, December 19th to everyone asking for an end of year contribution over and above dues. Remind congregants that dues/annual commitments only go so far. That additional fundraising is necessary to do the wonderful things the synagogue does in terms of meaningful worship, educating and engaging youth, and being there for all of us at good times and bad. Send out another email on Christmas Day, and then on January 30th. People might be annoyed, but they will get it.
  1. If your synagogue has the ability to accept online donations, by all means do it. Have a donate button for all to see on your website to take them to a donation page. Think about having a pop-up ad for everyone who visits your website to appear within a few seconds of anyone visiting your homepage.

Maybe you don’t want to be out there asking at the same time people are being asked with end of year requests from many other organizations with important missions. But isn’t the mission of the synagogue important? Isn’t the synagogue important to congregants? If the synagogue is not asking for a contribution at this time, maybe congregants are thinking that the synagogue doesn’t really need the money.

Be serious about fundraising. You don’t have to overkill taking action and implementing a campaign plan –which includes any or all of the components described above. But you should not hide the fact that there is a need for funds and not do anything.

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