2018 giving in wake of tax changes

By Jack Doyle, Amergent President

What are you going to change in your 2018 fundraising strategies?

I’ve seen a number of ideas and opinions expressed, some of which were helpful, so I will pass along and share with my opinion added.

  1. Fundraisers shouldn’t be giving tax advice, but telling the stories of your donors who made changes to their personal giving plans for 2018 would be a good idea if these donor stories motivate other people to do what they have done. Indicate that donors have begun to make more gifts of appreciated stock, more gifts from donor-advised fund giving accounts, and more donors are signing up for monthly giving. Donors willing and able to give a little more are doing so. Inspire others to do the same.
  2. Some donors are planning to make gifts of over $24,000 for the 2018 year to a donor-advised fund. This means they are planning to itemize their tax deductions in 2018 because they will now have more to deduct than the increased standard deduction for families. A single person could deposit $12,000 or more. The funds can be granted to anyone they want. I would consider this a very good suggestion to pass on to your donors regularly from now on.
  3. Most donors give to have a positive impact on your mission. All this tax talk to some sounds like “yada yada yada.” You can certainly tell everyone you are worried that some donors won’t be sustaining their giving. You just don’t know.
  4. Many of you raise a great deal of money in the states where all the taxpayers have lost the option of itemizing what is referred to as SALT (State and Local Taxes). The combined total of these two items (state income tax and local property tax) is now capped at $10,000. This affects above-average income households. What can they do? Their combined itemized tax deductions now rely on what they add to that $10,000 cap with charitable gifts and their mortgage likely to be the largest. Mortgages tend to be the same and charitable giving can be variable and you should encourage donors to increase their charitable giving deductions so their combined annual tax deductions don’t go down for 2018.
  5. One provision that changed might not impact anyone you know. I don’t know anyone who contributes more than half of their (AGI) adjusted gross income. But the legislators increased what a donor can deduct from 50% to 60% of AGI. If any of you know you have a donor who will benefit from this, I’d love to hear from you!
  6. Take a deep breath and consider the big picture. Your donors give to many worthy causes. Our co-op partners can tell you how many give to 20, 40, or 50 or more worthy causes annually. More importantly, they know which ones give more than $24,000 annually, more than the new standard deduction level for families.
  7. Who is willing to ask your donors if they itemized their giving in 2017? I bet you learn that the majority of your <$1,000 donors didn’t itemize. Older donors have been telling us for years that the Schedule A forms have been getting more difficult to use and they didn’t bother with them anymore, but they did NOT stop giving. I don’t think you’re going to see lot of donors stop giving if you keep showering them with sincere appreciation and thanks. Keep asking them for their love and support for all the good work you do and they will give it.

It really is all about the donor. Keep telling stories of the impact and outcomes the donor makes possible by their giving.

P.S. You’ve also read in the news of the unprecedented levels of gifts made to donor-advised funds at the end of 2017. How are you going to get donors to send them to you in 2018?

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