Using Email as a Year-End Strategy

By now, the last of the year-end annual fund appeals have been dropped in the mail and you are busy focusing on donor retention by calling on your traditional year-end major gift donors. You are also most likely looking ahead to the next year and crafting an operational plan and strategy for 2007.

Emails should be an important part of your strategy. Experience shows that most responses to emails occur within 24 hours from the time the email is sent. Therefore, it is not too late to plan and send one or two more focused email reminders to those in your annual fund database.

This year, there is an opportunity for planned giving officers to remind individuals about the IRA Charitable Rollover Provision. This provision allows people age 70½ or older to exclude up to $100,000 from their gross income for a taxable year for direct gifts from a traditional or Roth IRA to a qualified charity.

The growth in use of the internet for email and correspondence by seniors—they use the internet less than some groups, but their use is rapidly increasing—means that communicating a reminder in the second half of December about the tax law changes is a wise strategy.

Getting seniors to focus on their assets and their giving priorities is a major step towards cultivating a potential gift to your institution, even if individuals do not find much value in the tax law changes for their own present situation.
We will soon be posting a handful of good internet planned giving examples on the Bentz Whaley Flessner website.

Year-End Market

The stock market continues to be strong. This is an important time to take four steps.

  • Encourage those with pledges to make extra payments this year using their appreciated securities.
  • Monitor known holdings by major donors and see how their stocks fared in 2006. The names of those donors who fared particularly well should rise to top of the major gift officer’s call schedule.
  • Make sure your development office is able to answer questions about year-end giving. Every year a handful of stock brokers call before year-end inquiring about transferring stocks; and every year we hear stories of phones that were not answered or people answering the phone not knowing how to help the donor or their financial adviser.
  • Just like the planned giving reminders, you can remind your alumni and friends of the advantages of giving appreciated securities.
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