Deep breath. Remember last year.

It’s tax appeal time in Australia.

For those outside of Oz, our financial year ends on 30 June. As such most charities run “tax” appeals throughout May and June, and for many it’s their biggest time of individual giving for the year. Even bigger than Christmas for some.

Deep breath

I’ve probably asked 25+ fundraisers in the last two weeks how their tax appeals are travelling. I couldn’t tell you how many of those conversations have sounded like this.

Me: How’s your tax appeal going?

Fundraiser: Not very well.

Me: Oh really?

Fundraiser: Yep. Target was $200k gross, we’re at $60k so far.

Me: How does that compare to this time last year?

Fundraiser: Umm.. this time last year we were at $45k, ended up raising $120k.

A couple of problems here. Your first aim should be to beat last year. The figures above were in gross terms for the sake of the comparison. But fundamentally you want to make more net income than the previous years appeal.

Come on, be realistic

Secondly, was your target realistic? Nothing wrong with stretch goals, but what if the conversation continued like this…

Me: OK, so you’re ahead of last year. Good start.

Fundraiser: Yep, but we need to raise $200k, thats what I promised the board.

Me: So an $80k increase in income. What are you doing differently from last year?

Fundraiser: Not much. Pretty standard stuff. Increased the ask a little, thats about it. 4 page letter, 2 lift pieces.

No doubt a personalised ask based on previous giving history with a stretch component to it could (and likely would) increase income, as long as the appeal attached it was strong. But a 65% increase on that alone? Unlikely.

Iteration. Testing. New stuff

We’re working on around half a dozen tax appeals. We’re trying lots of new stuff. Use of voice broadcast as a final reminder in the days leading up to 30 June. Plain looking response forms, rather than designed ones. Different stock, different envelopes. Follow up telephone calls. much more authentic looking lift pieces. Testing ask levels. Increasing the number of supporting emails. Spending more on high value packs. I could go on.

The point is if you keep doing what you did last year you won’t revolutionise your appeal and your appeal income.

And finally, take a deep breath. Remember last year.


PS It’s not too late to implement some last minute changes to your tax appeal if you are down on last year.