By almost any measure, and in almost every industry, December is the busiest month of the year.  This is especially true for community foundations.  Not only are you taking care of business-as-usual, you’re also managing year-end grant cycles, accepting complex assets, holding donor appreciation events, and trying to close the books.  Fortunately, you’re not in it alone!  This blog has tips you need to help you and your community foundation colleagues finish the year strong.  So grab a glass of eggnog, a plate of holiday cookies, and enjoy our 5 Community Foundation Year-End Survival Tips!

  1. Develop and Distribute a Year-End Timetable: Setting clear expectations for your staff and donors will make for a smooth and year end. Be sure to include the deadlines for cash gifts, stock donations, and grant recommendations.  Need an example?  Check out Philadelphia Foundation’s 2015’s timetable here.
  2. Anticipate Grant Requests: With high grant request volumes at the end of the year, it can be tempting to put off charity checks to save time. DON’T DO IT.  Your auditors and CFOs will thank you later.  If you have a database that is connected to the IRS database or to Guidestar, run your charity checks in batch at the beginning of December so you don’t have to spend time running checks for organizations to whom you’ve granted previously.  If your database is not connected to Guidestar, you can run checks manually through the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check.
  3. Update (or create) Letter and Receipt Templates: There is nothing worse than having to manually generate hundreds of gift receipts in the last two weeks of the year. Consider using Microsoft Word to set up merge templates that can help automate your gift receipting.  When you receive a gift, enter it into your database or excel file, and then run a daily (or bi-daily) mail merge to create acknowledgement letters!  Microsoft Support offers how-to guides and tutorials on merge template creation.
  4. Keep a List of the Gift/Non-Gift Amounts for Events: Don’t spend hours tracking down “fair market values” of auction items, event tickets, or sponsorship packages. Compile a list of the non-tax-deductible amounts so you can quickly enter the amounts into your database and generate receipts.  IRS Publication 526 outlines reporting and substantiation requirements for charitable gifts.
  5. Optimize your Online Giving: According to Blackbaud’s 2015 Charitable Giving Report, more than 19% of December contributions were made online, and 17% of those were made through a mobile device.  In 2016, it is crucial that you make it easy for new and existing donors to contribute to your organization online.  Don’t have an online portal? Learn more about your options to make credit card processing quick and easy!

Above all, remember that you have a truly awesome job: helping make your community better.  Happy year-end!  I look forward to hearing from you in 2017!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Gioia is a Community Foundation Account Executive for Blackbaud.  Prior to joining Blackbaud, Sara worked as a program officer for the Pikes Peak Community Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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