No drop in the ice bucket: Nonprofits depend on end of the year donations

No drop in the ice bucket: Nonprofits depend on end of the year donations

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The last three days of December can be some of the busiest of the year for fund raisers as people make last minute tax deductible donations.

End of the year donations can be extremely important even for groups who made a splash with incredibly viral campaigns earlier this year.

The kind of communications device Steve Gleason uses now gives a voice to many more ALS patients thanks to Team Gleason and many ice bucket challengers.

The viral campaign, that had people all over the world soaking in icy water, brought in more than $100 million national ALS Association and about $1 million to the local Team Gleason group.

"The ice bucket challenge was a once in a lifetime phenomenon. Everybody is still scratching their head to see what's going to come out of it, whether it will ever happen again or whether it'll be in another form," Team Gleason Executive Director, and Steve Gleason's Father-in-Law, Paul Varisco said.

It's the kind of campaign most groups only dream of while they instead turn to end of year donations as their most significant source of revenue.

The author of The Essential Guide to End-of-Year Fundraising for Nonprofits of All Sizes Kristen DeMint says end-of-year giving can result in 40% or more of total yearly donations for nonprofit organizations.

Even Team Gleason will depend on end of the year giving because, while a million dollars is no drop in the ice bucket, they got a different sort of icy surprise just as the online campaign took hold.

"At the time we got that money, Medicare recently changed it's rules that prohibit people with great needs, like Steve has, from using their communication devices," Varisco said.

A Team Gleason spokesperson said they're now fighting back after Medicare decided to remove the internet capabilities from the communications devices provided to ALS patients, which work by following eye movement.

'It's a strange rule, and we're fighting it because it affects so many people, but because of that we're getting a lot more requests from individuals for communications devices, and we were able to fulfill those needs," Varisco said.

Until the rule is changed back, much of the local ice bucket money is going to patients who need more than just a voice box.

"Imagine not being able to talk or communicate, and you get this device and you can communicate you can go on the internet you can tweet you can do this and it gives a part of your life back and you can continue to be productive," Varisco said.

So far, Varisco said they've spent more than half a million dollars sending out the 12 to 18-thousand dollar machines to patients around the country.

It's ice bucket money that's quickly drying up and, like so many other organization, they hope that funds will be replenished by end of the year giving.

"The need to continue to raise money is always there," Varisco said.

Click here to see tips from the IRS on how to get the biggest tax deduction for your end of the year giving.

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