A Nice Touch: Year-End Statements
You want to be seen as organized, thoughtful and helpful, right? Those qualities are a must in fundraising. Few other donor communication methods convey those qualities as much as sending a year-end statement to acknowledge a donor’s itemized giving over the past year.
A year-end statement is a one-page letter that reminds your donors of their cumulative giving made over the past year. It’s easy to produce and a terrific opportunity to thank them for their support.
A year-end statement can be as simple as this:
Re: Year-end statement of your giving: Thank You
We are so grateful for your support throughout this past year.
Here is a summary of your contributions:
[List details of each donation]
Total contributions for 2017 = [$ amount]
Thank you! Your generosity allowed us to serve those in need.
This statement may be useful to you in your tax preparation.
Your ongoing support will allow us to continue to make great things happen in the new year ahead.
[Signature of the chief development officer and/or executive director]
Ideally your statement/letter should go out between Jan. 10 and Jan. 30.
Here’s the Kicker
Donors have told us in fundraising surveys that they appreciate getting a year-end statement, because it’s useful for their tax preparation, so that’s a good enough reason to do it. But I suggest there’s another reason, and that’s the kicker. When donors see their cumulative giving, they often find out something they didn’t know: the totality of their giving. And that usually pleasantly surprises them. They feel good about being that generous. It’s our job to convey how special they are for that giving, and the cumulative-giving statement is a chance to do that.
In your letter, be sure to include this information, per the IRS (opens as a pdf):
- The name of your organization.
- The amount of the cash contribution.
- A description (but not the value) of non-cash contributions.
- A statement that no goods or services were provided by your organization in return for the contribution, if that’s true.
- A description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, if any, that an organization provided in return for the contribution.
- A statement that goods or services, if any, that an organization provided in return for the contribution consisted entirely of intangible benefits (described in the publication cited below), if such was the case.
1. I suggest that you check your donor database software (call your vendor if you need support) to see if it contains a year-end statement template that you can use. This template is built-in to many donor software systems, and it will allow you to define what information to include and where it goes.
2. I also suggest that if you have a thoughtful gift that could be folded into the statement; it would be a terrific way to say thanks. Once I received a picture of a student that my giving aided, I kept that on my refrigerator for years. Another nonprofit sent me a small, hand-crafted, Native American dream catcher that one of their clients had made, and I also treasured that for years.
Please let me know your experience with year-end statements, and how they served your donors.