Tax Receipts – A Great Way to Jump-Start the New Calendar Year

Date Published
Bill Blinstrub

After the frenzy of calendar year-end is over, there is a natural inclination to take a deep breath, celebrate our accomplishments, and count all the revenue from successful year-end fundraising campaigns. This is – of course – is a very normal reaction to the chaos that is calendar year-end fundraising.

But, before you close the books on January, there is more work to do! And it starts by acknowledging all the generous gifts your organization received in the last calendar year. It’s time to send out a “Tax Receipt” acknowledgement to all your generous donors!

Why do we call it a “tax receipt” though? We know that a donor’s cancelled check or credit card receipt act as the real receipt. Why send another? Well, there are several reasons.

  1. It’s a great way to say “Thank you” to your donors, and to acknowledge their entire year’s generosity in one communication – whether it be email or direct mail. Sure, they get an acknowledgment after every gift, but seeing their yearly total in one place is a great way to recognize their cumulative generosity for the entire year.
  2. It’s a great tactic to reestablish contact with donor segments that may be on a “Limited Communication” track, like Sustainers and Major Donors, and hit them with a “soft” ask to start the new year. By labeling the communication as a “Tax Receipt,” it assumes a certain legitimacy that it “must” be sent to everyone for tax purposes. By including a soft ask – say in the “P.S.” – many organizations find that this type of communication can be a revenue driver!
  3. It’s is, in fact, a receipt that can be used for one’s taxes. It is helpful to many donors to have all of their yearly giving summarized in one place.
  4. Donors see the words “Tax Receipt” on the OE and they open the envelope.

A few tips if you are going to be sending a “Tax Receipt” mailing.

  1. Don’t cut out segments – send to everyone. If you only select certain segments, you are not fully leveraging the “Tax Receipt” concept. (One of our clients recently cut out major donors from their Tax Receipt mailing, and it flipped from a net positive mailing to a net negative mailing!)

    One potential exception to the “mail everyone” rule: In some cases, organizations do set minimums to qualify for the Tax Receipt mailing. For example, no cumulative giving for the year of under $5 would get the mailing.

  1. If you are executing the communication as a direct mail appeal “Tax Receipt,” know that it has to mail at first class rates (this per USPS regulations).
  2. Keep the ask “soft.” Remember, the main goal of the communication is to thank the donors and to provide a summary of their previous year’s giving. Don’t lead with a “hard” ask. Lead with “thank you” and make the ask “soft” and secondary.

By following the tips we’ve provided here, you can turn your Tax Receipt mailing into your first revenue driving campaign of 2019!

 Want to know MORE about how to mail a tax receipt campaign of your own this year? Call us!

About the Author:
Bill Blinstrub
Senior Account Executive, Agency Services

Years in the industry

6 in Fundraising, 20+ in direct mail and marketing

Role at the Company

I develop and execute client strategy, as well as provide results analysis and budget management. I am the key face-to-face client contact, advising on all fundraising activities, best practices, trends, whatever my clients need! If my client needs something, I make it happen!

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love the people, and the culture. AFG really creates a positive, proactive environment that empowers me to fully immerse myself in serving my clients. No idea is off limits, new thinking is encouraged, and everyone works together to meet one common goal.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I am an avid- but not fast- runner. I enjoy competing in road races whenever possible. Its a great way to experience a new city/place, and I love running “unplugged”, no headphones. I love to hear the sounds of nature around me. Running really allows me to connect with a place and its people.

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