Sustainability. Without it, none of us would be able to continue serving our communities. The fundraising aspect of sustainability has been in the news recently as different groups released reports with their takes on charitable giving in 2018. In this month’s Nonprofit Knowledge Matters, we explore the recent reports on 2018 individual giving (and what effects the federal tax law had – or didn’t have – on giving last year).
But sustainability involves much more than individual giving. Our mantra continues to be “have a plan, work the plan, improve the plan.” The right mix of tactics will be different for every nonprofit. In addition to direct fundraising, engaging in state-level advocacy to bring in and keep more money and helping out with Complete Count Committees for the 2020 Census can help your nonprofit’s future sustainability.
2018 individual giving stats: what’s the bottom line?
Headlines in recent weeks provided varying accounts of the state of individual donations to nonprofits – and what effect, if any, the changes to the federal tax law had on giving last year. We review reports from the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, the Colorado Secretary of State, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, and United Way in search of broader trends to put them in context.
Have a plan, work the plan, improve the plan
Looking at trends can only get you so far. With awareness of the broader environment, it’s time to get down to planning – and executing your plan. Most nonprofits, especially small and midsize ones, don’t have enough people to focus simultaneously on foundation grants, individual giving, major donors, peer-to-peer, direct mail, corporate sponsorships, fundraising events, a membership program, a capital campaign, and planned giving. Each nonprofit has to find the right balance and the right tactics to be as efficient as possible, deploying limited capacity to bring in maximum revenue.
An overlooked ingredient for sustainability: State-level advocacy
The federal tax law and its effects on giving have had their fair share of attention. But what about state tax laws? In more than 40 states, tax laws are being revised right now. Proposals in several states could have a significant impact on nonprofits, from attempts to change state-level giving incentives to repealing property tax exemptions. And that’s not even counting the states that are trying to grab some of the windfall from the Wayfair court decision and imposing new sales taxes that nonprofits may be forced to pay across state lines. On the other hand, proposals in many states would change tax laws to incentivize charitable giving. A little advocacy on your part can go a long way in ensuring a positive public policy environment in your state that will help with financial sustainability.
Running down various tax code changes being proposed across the country and what your nonprofit can do about them…
What the 2020 Census has to do with nonprofit sustainability
When most people talk about the upcoming 2020 Census, they talk about it in terms of political representation. But there is an even more important use of census data that affects nonprofit sustainability: distribution of federal funds. For every person who isn’t counted, states lose anywhere from $533 to $2,309. Annually. Those dollars flow to pay for many of the services that nonprofits deliver on behalf of local, state, and federal governments. Nonprofits can help ensure those who are traditionally uncounted or undercounted are included in next year’s count. Getting involved with local Complete Count Committees can help secure funding for your state’s nonprofits for years to come.
New and Notable Resources
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