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4 ways to encourage nonprofit donors to make unrestricted gifts

Posted Jan 18, 2017

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Because restricted gifts have stringent rules attached, they can be difficult for not-for-profits to manage and account  for. How, then, do you encourage donors to make unrestricted gifts that your organization can use as it deems necessary? Here are four suggestions:

1. Praise the benefits of unrestricted gifts when speaking with potential donors. Explain how your organization uses donations, offering hard numbers and specific examples where needed. Give them as much information as you can about your organization and its decision-makers so that donors feel they can trust you to make the best choices about how their gifts are put to work.

2. Provide donors and their advisors with sample bequest clauses that refer to the general mission and purpose of your nonprofit. Also encourage them to include wording that expresses “suggestions” or “preferences” for donations, as opposed to binding restrictions.

3. Include general giving statements in fundraising materials. For example, “All gifts will be used to further the organization’s general charitable purposes,” or “Your donations to this year’s benefit will be used toward the continued goal of fulfilling our organization’s mission.”

4. Indicate in thank-you letters how your nonprofit understands the nature of the gift. If the donor hasn’t stipulated restrictions, the letter should state that the gift will be used for unrestricted “general operating” purposes.

Often, donors can be persuaded to change the conditions of their donation if you make them comfortable in the knowledge that their gift will be used in a responsible and mission-enhancing way. Ongoing donor education and responsible handling of all gifts can make this process easier. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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