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  Year End Processing Potpourri
Year End ProcessingAs we move into our busy season it's time to think about transactional volumes and the impact on donors and  your advancement staff.

"Tis the season" where it's easy to get behind as we process gifts and update records as donors send in gifts to qualify for year end tax receipts.

With many areas of campus typically closed for holidays, checks may sit in desks and mail is not opened.  Procedures break down and other problems occur. Staff have social commitments, holiday shopping, vacations and we're also into the cold and flu season. --- disruptions to the normal flow of work.

Plus --- we've sent out our annual fund solicitations, ramped up the telemarketing program, sent holiday cards, and the special magazine with a giving coupon. All the major gifts staff have increased the number of personal visits. Planned giving is working overtime.

All of this sounds a little like a no win scenario, but with a little planning it can all a lot smoother.

Determine what the average increase in transactional volumes will be so you can plan accordingly. See if there are any trends from year to year so you'll have a general idea of what to expect. This is your starting point.

Processing Trends

With all of this in mind ...

  • Send a memo out to all staff letting them know the year end procedures and the importance of adhering to them. Memo should include dates, hours, where donors can drop off gifts directly and other relevant information.
  • Get volunteers for overtime and coverage in advance. You'll probably need additional coverage for special donor holiday events. Make sure you understand the budgetary implications of policies such as time and a half, double time etc. What are the designated days where these rates kick in.

    Your ability to utilize student help will decrease since many of them go home for the holidays.
  • If you're in an employment environment with a collective agreement you may have to notify staff of job sharing or other changes in their normal work.
  • Make sure everyone understands the idea of "evidence of delivery" i.e. Keeping copies of envelopes and anything else coming in from donors which indicates the year they should be receipted. We normally do this anyway, but at this time of year it's critical.
  • Review all the year end tax procedures if any legislation has changed regarding deadlines and eligibility of certain types of donations.
  • If you normally have a backlog at this time of year, make sure your customer support line is aware and can answer questions appropriately on any expected delays. Keep your development staff updated as to the length of the queue also. They will field many of the calls from donors wondering where their acknowledgements and receipts are, particularly if you normally have a fast turnaround time throughout the rest of the year.

    Processing is not the only area. You may also get behind in your monthly reconciliations, reports and data extractions. Let everyone know so they can factor these delays into all of their deadlines.
  • Have iron-clad procedures in place for stock and securities gifts and someone in the office or on call to handle these transactions. In fact, someone from planned giving should always be on call.

    You may also have to reach your legal representative, banker or broker so make sure you know their availability.

    It's good to have packets for stock and securities transfers prepared in advance rather than having to search for them in a pinch.
  • Have a knowledgeable advancement services person on call when the institution is closed and communicate this to your campus switchboard so any questions on donations can be answered. Your on call staff should have home numbers of key people in other program areas such as annual fund so that they can forward calls or get additional information from them when required.
  • Have your holiday contact information and hours on your web site. You'll need to monitor your on-line giving form to ensure it's always working during the break especially if you have a high volume of on-line gifts.
  • Someone should be available for computer and system support. The system should be available during the times you need to have staff in the office. Don't install any new upgrades or applications over the holidays. Backups should still be happening on a regular basis. You may need to coordinate with your central computing department to ensure network access.
  • Inventory your supplies such as letterhead well in advance. It's difficult to arrange to have these printed during the holiday break.
  • Have a plan for getting caught up in the new year as quickly as possible. Get overtime and other resource requirements approved in advance.
  • Have fun! The occasional staff lunch, muffins, pizza and a few other out of the ordinary treats for advancement services staff make longer than usual work days and a heavy work load more enjoyable.

Remember, that although the office may be closed, your donors and prospects still require the level of service they have come to expect and enjoy at other times of the year.

Make sure you plan accordingly and plan well in advance so everyone can have a happy holiday.

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