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How to CONFUSE your donors and get FEWER gifts.

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

Does your planned giving marketing copy make [insert word here from below] sense?

ANY

SOME

NO

Or does it make COMPLETE sense?

Most planned giving copy sounds like it came from an attorney or accountant.  And that’s because it probably did!
NEWS FLASH:  Attorneys and accountants are not copy writers… they are… (wait for it)…. attorneys and accountants. So if you need copy for your website, hire a really good copy writer.  And whatever you do, don’t hire a planned giving specialist. Most of them don’t know how to write copy that the average 70-something person can understand. They, too, are not marketers.
Marketing copy should be written by marketers.
Don’t believe me?  Ask your favorite 70-something person if they understand the following copy I found on a charity’s website.  Don’t let them read it twice.  Your donors won’t do that.  Ask them if they got confused.  They will say “yes”.  Then ask them if this copy would compel them to donate.  They will say “no”.  I rest my case.

The IRA Rollover was first enacted in 2006 as part of the Pension Protection Act. The IRA Charitable Rollover and other critical giving incentives were reinstated through 2011 as part of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. Donors age 70 ½ or older are able to contribute up to $100,000 annually from an IRA account and avoid federal tax consequences. When the amount withdrawn from the IRA account is paid directly to the charity, it is not counted as federally taxable income. In addition, the IRA charitable gift amount counts against the donor’s required minimum distribution (RMD). However, the gift may not be counted as a charitable deduction on federal tax returns. These rules apply to gifts made through December 31, 2013 because on January 2, 2013, the President signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Donors age 70 1/2 or older are once again eligible to move up to $100,000 from their IRAs directly to qualified charities without having to pay income taxes on the qualified distribution in 2013. In addition to the extension of the IRA Rollover provision for 2013, Congress provided two special transition rules:

1. Qualified distributions made by February 1, 2013, may be counted retroactively for the 2012 tax year. This means that it is possible for those who act in a timely manner to make IRA Rollover gifts of up to $100,000 for 2012. To take advantage of this opportunity, you must be age 70 1/2 or older and this transfer must come directly from your IRA custodian to a qualified charity by February 1, 2013 to count as a 2012 contribution, or at any time, but by December 31, 2013, for a 2013 contribution. Contact your IRA custodian with a request to make a charitable gift from your IRA.

2. Another unexpected but welcome feature of the new law is the “do-over” provision. Taxpayers who took a withdrawal from an IRA (mandatory or otherwise) during December 2012 may make a cash contribution to a qualified charity before Feb. 1, 2013 and treat the gift as if it had been a direct distribution to charity that qualified as an IRA Rollover gift for 2012. We know that many donors were waiting as long as possible in December to take the mandatory distribution in hopes that the rollover would be re-instated before December 31. Because of the “do-over” provision, you can still make your rollover gift to xxxxxxxxxxxxxx or another qualified charity.

You should always consult a tax professional if you are thinking about making a major charitable gift or a gift under this law. IRA custodians may send your gift to the xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, P.O. Box xxxx, xxxxxxxxx, XX 00000. Our federal tax ID number is 00-00000000. For more information about how to help xxxxxxxxxxx, please call xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Director of Development, at 000/000-0000.

There are several exciting opportunities for gifts provided by this new law; however, since we are prohibited from offering advice, this information should not be construed as tax or legal advice.

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