December 3, 2018 Douglas Shaw & Associates

Before you know it, Christmas will be over for another year and New Year’s resolutions will be made, yet hopefully not broken. For those of us in direct response fundraising, this change of seasons means that it’s time to mail annual tax statements.

Also known as giving summaries, we’ve been strategizing, writing, designing, and producing these mailings for our clients for decades, and we felt it was timely to share our experiences with you, and let you in on a little secret—the tax statement is a great opportunity for you to raise income.

Before we let you know how to maximize your tax statement mailing, it’s important to know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules for providing tax statements vary by organization type. So, before you build a fundraising campaign around your tax statement, you should understand your legal requirements and obligations.

Now, let’s move on to how you can use the tax statement to build stronger donor relationships, and even get an additional donation, or two. Because the tax statement formally acknowledges the donor’s previous year’s giving, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to celebrate all the amazing things their gifts made possible. It’s donor focused fundraising at its best, and it starts with you being on time.


We recommend that you work to have your tax statement in homes by the end of January, or by the middle of February at the latest. This is largely because your donors will already be starting to prepare their taxes and if your letter is in their hands, it’s a big win for you.


Knowing who to send a tax statement to is also an important consideration. All active donors should receive a printed tax statement mailing, but good results can be found by diving a little deeper into the donor file. Targeting your lapsed donors with a variable tax statement mailing has the potential to increase response rates, and while your copy will need to change, it at least gives you an opportunity to tell your lapsed donors what is possible if they give again.


We strategize our client’s tax statements the same way we do any other appeal. We build an offer, compare results, consider testing, and present a problem that only the donor can solve.

While the tax statement letter is your chance to let your donors know how important they are and the difference they are making in the world, it’s equally critical to remind them that more needs to be done . . . and those you serve continue to need their generosity.

Whether you use a story, statistics, or a combination of both to illustrate this need, it’s important that you call it out, and support it with a strong call to action, because while the tax statement may be a required document, it’s still an opportunity for you to ask for support.

Need Help?

Contact us today and find out how your organization can maximize giving, and have your donors falling in love with you all over again.

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