Donation Model Could Provide Another Revenue Source for VITA Programs
Much like the communities you serve, many organizations providing tax preparation services are struggling. Program expenses such as supplies, volunteer training and recognition, facilities and equipment overhead, and personnel are just a few costs that are required to provide valuable tax preparation services that may otherwise cost hundreds of dollars for low- and moderate-income families.
With donor fatigue, a common problem among nonprofits, the VITA field finds a challenge in maintaining the quality and number of people served with diminishing resources. Being creative and expanding the donor base is vital in sustaining VITA services.
To respond to this, NCTC conducted a Donation Model pilot throughout the 2012 tax season in which three organizations asked its clients to consider making a modest donation due to the declining pool of funds. It targeted the service recipient to donate money to the organization incurring costs. Some of the lessons learned include:
Make no assumptions about the client
Train all volunteers and staff members at the tax site
Designate a lead/champion to move the initiative forward
Always have donation materials (envelopes, scripts, signage) readily available
Many clients responded in a positive light and considered it as a natural ask. From the participation of Iowa Legal Aid (IA), Rural Dynamics (MT), and Center for Economic Progress (IL), we took away valuable information for the future of our field.
By Catherine Schumer, Project Manager