When donors look at your fundraising appeals, what do they see? No doubt you’ve put a lot of thought into your messaging, choosing just the right words and images to tell your nonprofit’s unique story. But have you given any thought to the message your fundraising disclosures are sending?
Too often, nonprofits bury disclosures in the most inconspicuous place they can find. You may have even read articles proposing creative hiding spots, like the back of an envelope flap. Yet nobody expects to find good news lurking on an envelope flap, or skulking in the margins of a document in six-point type. That’s the realm of legal disclaimers (generally not good news) and medical side effects (definitely not good news!).
In fact, fundraising disclosures are very good news. And as it turns out, they’re sending a message donors are looking for when weighing their giving options.
So why are you hiding them?
Today’s donors are eager to give. They’re also inundated by fundraising appeals and worried about the impact of their donations, according to a survey by Fidelity Charitable. Their number one concern? Making sure a charity is credible and trustworthy.1
Charitable solicitation disclosures speak to that very question. Generally, they show that your charity is registered with authorities where required. They affirm that your financial statements are a matter of public record, and that you’ve met your regulatory obligations for fundraising.
All of these things send a message about your nonprofit’s transparency, legitimacy, and viability. By leveraging them as part of a wider conversation about your organization’s compliance with charitable solicitation laws, you can enhance the persuasive power of your fundraising appeals.
Required in 26 states, charitable solicitation disclosures provide basic information about your charity. This may include items such as:
While these details are useful for donors who want to make a formal inquiry, they can also make a powerful impression on donors who are just glancing over your materials for the first time. What sort of impression they make depends a lot on how you present them.
Each state that requires disclosures spells out where they are required and what they must contain. In some states, different requirements are provided for solicitations made by phone, email, in person, or in writing. Because the requirements are so varied, it’s important to ensure that each fundraising activity you engage in meets the guidelines of the state where the solicitation is made.
It’s important to note that in the case of long-distance appeals, solicitation occurs where the message is received, not where it originates. For example, a North Carolina charity that sends an email solicitation to a Nevada resident must meet relevant Nevada requirements.
Some states provide a statement that must be included verbatim on all written appeals. This may include online solicitations such as social media posts and web pages. Other states are less specific. It’s important to follow the instructions for each state where you solicit to the letter. In Texas, for example, the written disclosures must be in contrasting eight-point type or larger.
If you need advice or help with disclosures, our specialists can help. Just give us a call and we’ll get you set up.
If you’ve gone to the effort of meeting all of your fundraising registration and disclosure requirements in a state, why would you relegate that information to the fine print? Disclosures are evidence of good stewardship, and they should be shared as such: in big, bold print, with a headline and some surrounding copy to help readers understand what they mean.
Here are some tips that will help your nonprofit unbury your disclosures and harness their power to boost donor response and retention:
If compliance has taken a back seat in your nonprofit, you’re not alone. Nonprofit leaders and staff wear a lot of hats, and regulatory compliance is one that tends to be put on as needed and then tossed in the closet until the next deadline. We get you! In fact, we hear from nonprofits every day who aren’t sure where they stand with all of their reports and registrations. If you’re in that position, we can help.
We can perform a quick compliance check to confirm your status in any state and let you know what you need to do now and through the year to maintain compliance. Just give us a call, 1-888-995-5905, or contact us for more information. We’re happy to help!
1. “Overcoming Barriers to Giving,” Fidelity Charitable. Web. https://www.fidelitycharitable.org/docs/overcoming-barriers-to-giving.pdf