Focus on Charitable Deductions is Misplaced

President Obama’s proposed $477 billion jobs bill is making some in the fundraising world a little uneasy. In an effort to pay for the bill, the President is proposing a roll back in the amount a donor can deduct from their charitable giving – from the current 35 percent down to 28 percent for families making more than $250,000. In a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on the issue, several leaders in philanthropy were quoted and none sound too enthusiastic about the proposed legislation…

“Limiting the itemized deduction would certainly lead to a significant decrease in charitable contributions. If charities have less resources, they’ll be forced to choose between laying off employees or cutting needed services,” said William C. Daroff, vice president for Public Policy at the Jewish Federations of North America.

Whether you support President Obama’s proposal, this brings about an important point – is the only reason wealthy donors give to your organization because they want or need a write off? I would guess we all know there’s more to giving than the tax factor alone.

Donors should feel compelled to support your cause, because they believe their gift will help change the world for the better. It’s your organization’s responsibility to communicate to those donors exactly how their gifts will accomplish that change. The best major gift officers will mostly agree that they are able to bring in the big money, because donors want to do something through their organization.

Of course, a cut in the deductible amount of a gift is likely to have an impact on charitable giving. If the legislation should pass as proposed, I would encourage fund raisers to view it as an opportunity to look inward – what can we do to offset this potential negative impact on giving? How can we better communicate our message to make new donors feel compelled to give and encourage current donors to maintain their support? What tools can we use to give our constituents an open window into our operation so that they feel connected to our organization on a consistent basis? The answers lie in the tools made available through social media. Get your strategy together now so that you’re poised to offset any negative impact on fundraising. Be it new legislation, economic factors or something not yet known, when times get tough, you’ll be happy you have the strong relationships with donors you’ve built, in part, through social media. Now is the time to start building those relationships.

One thought on “Focus on Charitable Deductions is Misplaced

  1. At a time when poverty has risen again to over 15% of the population (22% for children), when average household income–the great middle class–has fallen by 7.1% since 1999 and average wages for men are at 1978 levels, the demands on the not for profit sector will continue to rise. We will be called upon to educate students through greater scholarship support, provide for social programs from childhood through youth to seniors and build stronger communities and families.
    I believe the great philanthropic sector must push against public policy changes that harm our work to support communities and those in need. Write your member of congress and remind them that policies that discourage giving are unwise.
    Join the fight:

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