Athletics Donors and the New Tax Law: Time to Reconsider Your Communications Strategy?

empty soccer stadium

by Sasha Egorova, Academic Impressions

The new tax law passed in December 2017 has the potential to significantly affect athletics fundraising. The law repealed an 80% tax deduction that donors could previously take on contributions tied to the right to purchase athletic tickets. Division I schools that rely heavily on these types of gifts could potentially lose millions of dollars in contributions if their donors decide to no longer make these payments.

This News Has Made Universities Nervous

In April 2018 Academic Impressions surveyed institutions to understand how the law is expected to affect athletics fundraising and how different universities are responding to this change. We found that:

  • Among Division I schools, 57% of respondents believe that the change will affect their fundraising bottom line.
  • In the meantime, only 22% of respondents feel prepared to respond to this tax change at their institution.

Here's How They're Responding

Things are still very much in flux, as schools are figuring out their way forward. There are many things to consider: interpretation of the law, accounting implications, campaign and fundraising goal-setting, donor communications, receipting, fund restructuring … the list goes on.

Overall, there are two ways institutions are responding.


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In this webcast, join us to hear from Lynne Wester and her colleague Jacqueline Mattson at University of Texas Athletics to hear how taking a strategic approach to donor relations for athletics supporters is more important than ever.