2018 Tax Laws and Non-Profits

I have worked on websites and marketing since the mid-1990s. During that time, I have seen a lot of trends, fads, technology enhancements, and gimmicks used to attract customers and donors. No matter what tactics are executed, the person pulling out their credit cards and typing those numbers in the keyboard needs to know “WHY” they are giving.

A MAJOR MOTIVATION of donations may have been taken away in 2018…. Tax incentives.

The new tax law’s doubling of the standard deduction will substantially reduce the number of taxpayers that can benefit from the charitable contribution deduction. While this provision will provide a higher overall deduction for many taxpayers, it will also depress charitable giving because only those who itemize their deductions, instead of taking the standard deduction, get the benefit of a charitable contribution deduction.

The new tax law raises the standard deduction initially from $6,350 to $12,000 for single individuals and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples. Experts estimates that the provision will radically decrease the number of taxpayers who itemize their deductions – from about 30% of taxpayers in 2017 to 6% in 2018. As a result, charitable giving is expected to drop from between $12 billion to $20 billion per year, further resulting in a projected loss of significant non-profit jobs.

Having spent over a decade studying year-end giving, I have seen many online donations pour in during the last 48-hours of the year. I have surveyed many of these donors and know their “WHY” involved tax write-offs.

Yes, they could have given to any organization. But the “when” and “why” are effected by tax related motivations.

I think organizations will be taking a GIANT risk, if they wait until the last 2-days of the year to “see if the tax laws will have a negative affect on year-end giving in 2018.”

Here are my top recommendations for 2018:

  • Tighten down your marketing message – Do you have a solid elevator speech of your mission? Does your tag-line, website, donation page, welcome flows, collateral, business cards, presentations ALL match this message? If not, why not?
  • Make a 2018 marketing plan – Make sure your social media and outgoing email campaigns are shouting this mission/campaign/vision.
  • Test with a campaign push BEFORE December. You can’t wait to see if this will work in December. Do you have a Fiscal-Year-End?
  • Remind your donors WHY they give to your organization and WHY you depend on their gifts.
  • Make sure your Digital Plans are healthy. Have you had a Digital Audit? See how well your Communications team is communicating using the digital arsenal they are firing. Are they hitting what they are aiming towards? What weapons do they need to replace?

2018 is not the year to “see how it goes.” We must work even harder to incentivize our donors with reasons they should continue their much-needed support of our non-profits.

Todd Turner is a non-profit digital-specialist who specializes in tightening marketing messaging and story-telling for non-profits around the country. Having worked with organizations in the USA, Canada, China, Australia, Brazil, UK, Poland, and Romania, he has experienced many cultures, languages, mind-sets, and tax-laws. Each situation has been a learning experience and adds to the 20+ years of hand-on marketing and technology knowledge he has acquired.

Contact Todd Turner for a 2-day Digital Audit of your online marketing efforts or to consult your digital team each month.