CARES Act - Don’t react too quickly

Remind your donors why they give.


We’ve seen the news that Congress passed the CARES Act and we all know there are some good provisions included for non-profit organizations. But what might not be immediately clear is – what we should DO with this information.

When I was Chief Development Officer, I would have been tempted to broadcast the news to my donors. I probably would have sent an email to everyone in my database to inform them about how the bill changes the tax deductibility of their giving. You might find yourself tempted to launch a multi-channel communication effort to educate all your donors about the ways they can benefit from taking advantage of the charitable giving tax incentives.

I urge you to resist being reflexive. I’ve learned that while this information might be important for donors to know, it is not going to be the motivating factor that causes them to be more charitable. As you consider what to communicate to your constituents, please remember that your donors don't view themselves as transactions and neither should you.

Your donors give to your organization because they believe in your mission, because they care about helping you do great work and because they have a strong emotional connection to your cause. 

I’m reminded of the article we published that explains why building emotional connections with your donors is the most effective way you can interact with them. History shows us that when the tax code was changed a few years ago, charitable giving was barely affected. Back then, I remember sitting through hours of webinars and sessions about the tax rule. In hindsight, I wish I could get those hours back because the data shows that telling donors about taxes isn’t a giving motivator (shocker). Donors care about being a part of something bigger.

This underscores the message that I am prompted to remind my non-profit colleagues about, especially right now. Take this opportunity to do what you can to treat all your donors like major donors. Pick-up the phone. Stay in touch. Be mission conscious but remain donor centric. 

People don’t give to your organization because they get a tax break. They give to your organization because they are compelled to contribute to the great work that you are doing. 

Keep doing that good work, and don’t let the news confuse your strategies. Be well and stay focused. We need you right now more than ever. 

Trish Dewald
Trish Dewald

EVP of Non-Profit Solutions

Phoenix Innovate

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