My husband and I are in the process of updating our will. We are pleased to include our church, college and several other causes we care about with a deferred gift in our estate plans. It is a rewarding step to take, and if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to consider making planned gifts to your “favorites” as well.
The question is: will the organizations you care about be ready to accept your planned gifts? I sure hope so! But just in case, here are some quick tips.
You need a “face” for planned giving, preferably your chief advancement officer or a designated planned giving officer that donors will learn over time is the person to turn to when a donor decides to make an estate gift to your organization. In small nonprofits, this role will often fall on the Executive Director. This person should know: (1) the basic ways of promoting and securing planned gifts, (2) when to turn to estate planning professional advisors and (3) who the estate planning professionals are in your community.
An effective way to get to know estate planning professionals is by establishing a planned giving advisory group for your organization. Joining and participating in your local Planned Giving Council through the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (formerly the National Committee on Planned Giving) is also a great way to network with professional advisors.
As mentioned in part one of this series, you will want to talk about planned giving with your most loyal donors first, focusing on years of giving and number of gifts. Also, cash-strapped younger donors may be looking for ways to make a difference. Keep in mind that most planned givers are not major donors, and their planned gift may be the largest gift they ever make to your organization.
In today’s uncertain economy, I continue to see an increase in planned gifts at the expense of cash contributions. This is not great news for annual and capital drives, but it is good news for planned giving programs.
Purchasing prefabricated planned giving materials is popular and convenient; however, there are stronger, more cost-effective ways to get the message out that your organization encourages planned gifts. Here are some proven ideas:
- Simply add text to as many printed materials as possible: “Please consider including ORGANIZATION NAME HERE in your will.” Short. Sweet. Effective.
- Incorporate donor profiles in your digital and printed materials about recent planned gifts. Personalized stories people can relate to make a difference.
- Create an advertisement that promotes planned giving to be used in various places online and in print when appropriate. A personalized donor testimonial works beautifully.
- Write original content for on the topic of estate planning and charitable giving that are customized to your organization. Seek submissions from professional estate planning advisors for these materials. Share these materials with your most loyal donors and make it easy to access online as well.
- On your gift return slips, newsletters and online forms, add a little box with a place for donors to check if they have already included your organization in their will and another box if they would like more information about including your organization in their will.