Does Your Planned Giving Program Have a Plan?

Annual giving has always been the primary focus for nonprofit fundraisng efforts.
And, it’s no wonder-a 2008 national study by the Stelter Company revealed that 90%
of U.S. adults age 40 and over, donated to at least one non-profit organization
in the past year or so. Yet, only 7% reported to include a charitable bequest in
their wills.

This disparity offers an enormous opportunity for planned giving fundraisers. And
yet, a quick peak at most non-profit organizations will discover little to no strategy
for cultivating planned gifts, including bequests.


Show me the money, NOW…
Most development departments we work with are
under pressure from their Board of Directors to increase contributions to cover
the annual operation budget. Or, they may be planning some capital campaign project
that is sure to absorb the staff.
Bequest revenue, or gifts from various kinds of annuities, are sometimes viewed
as surprise gifts that can’t be counted on and seldom happen. Why should we be surprised
by this attitude? Look around the table at your Board of Directors and at your organizations
leadership. How many planned giving experts do you see?

Let’s review your development plan this year….you have four special events including
the annual gala and auction, you have two big mailings planned, you have to make
50 major gift prospect calls by December your boss wants you to improve the newsletter,
your web-site hasn’t been updated and it’s beginning to embarrass you, the database
software needs to upgraded and, so on. Is it any wonder that planned gifts, in most
organizations, seem to happen (if it happens at all) by accident.

Why your Planned Giving Program is Important…
Research findings conclude “giving” is ingrained in the American culture. Data indicates
that 7% of Americans age 40 and older have named a nonprofit organization in their
will. In addition, another 10% are a good prospect.

The Stelter study further reveals that 64% of U.S. residents age 40 and over already
have wills. The planning decisions, for the most part, take place before they reach
age 50. Once a nonprofit is included in the will it is rarely changed. Therefore,
bequest made at these younger ages are likely to stick benefiting the nonprofit
for decades to come. So, how much money are you leaving on the table year after
year, because of an ineffective planned giving program?

Several clients I have worked with have effective planned giving programs
in place with annual initiatives that get positive results. These organizations
report consistent annual planned gift bequest revenues that represent 25% or more
of their total revenue from all sources.

Your largely untapped bequest prospect group is the same man or woman who will attend
your next golf event or will donate a small gift from your next mailing. Yet, most
of these people will never be asked for a planned gift.

Our experience indicates, most Development Directors, in small to mid-size nonprofit
organizations, will never find the time to create an effective planned giving program.
Why is that so?

How to Start a Planned Giving Program…
Many of our clients have started new Planned Giving
programs this past year, and, at the same time they have upgraded their annual fundraising
efforts during these difficult economic conditions. How did they do it?

Let us make these recommendations.

One: Review your donor records to discover likely planned gift prospects (they will
be over the age of 40; they will have donated something to you every year for ten
years are more, they have a high net worth).

Two: Consider an investment to improve your website, especially offering interactive
donor communication in regards to your planned giving options.

Three: Consider partnering with experts to offer at least one Planned Giving Seminar
this year.

Four: Use a multichannel marketing approach to send consistent, relevant planned
giving information to your donor prospects. Use your newsletter, email newsletters,
website, direct mail inserts to targeted prospects. In every communication to donor
prospects provide useful information and an opportunity to make a planned gift.

Are you ready to accept a planned gift?
Are you prepared for the donor who wants to give you a Charitable Remainder Unit
Trusts gift? There are more than 100 instruments a donor could use to make a planned
gift to your organization. Most development directors are not planned giving experts,
but they can surround themselves with expert services for just such an occasion.
We suggest that you surround yourself with experts.

We also suggest that you take a very close look at your case for support. How long
has it been since it has been upgraded? Is it compelling? Are donors attracted to
your organization when they read it? How do you know?

Do your donors know what you are doing with their money? Have you been good stewards,
using donor money for maximum impact. Do you communicate with donors as if they
are investors? Do you report positive outcomes to your investor donor? Are you
strengthening relationships with your donors?

Now is the time to create new opportunities to educate and engage your donors. Let
them know how your organization is making a difference. Make sure they know how
much you appreciate their financial support. Make sure they know what you did with
their money!

Are You Eligible for the Grant?
The Missouri Foundation for Health Capacity Building – Technical Assistance Grant
Program is accepting applications. This grant program provides health-related organizations (budget cap of $10 mil)
with up to $20,000 for capacity-building projects in strategic planning, fund development,
strategic communications, business & financial planning, management systems
development and program evaluation.