What Is Planned Giving?

Sections of this topic

    “A method of charitable giving that involves the donor’s consideration of their retirement plan and family estate plan, and usually means cash to a charity at the donor’s death.”

    I’ve been relying on that definition for years of public speaking and training. It’s easy, short and accurate. Others may quibble. It’s served me well for 15 years of Planned Giving fundraising.

    Deeply personal factors come into play when your prospect decides whether to include your nonprofit in her estate or retirement plan. She’s thinking about her husband’s, children’s and grandchildren’s needs; maybe her parents’ long-term care; and other relatives. Even dear friends may come into the picture.

    It’s a uniquely personal decision whether to include a person—or charity—in one’s will.

    I talk about the charitable bequest because it’s the place to kick-off any Planned Giving program, irrespective of your charitable mission or size. I’ll have a lot more to say about that in future articles.

    Who do we include in our wills?

    You’ll be asking prospects to put your charity alongside husbands, children, grandchildren, parents, and close friends.

    That’s a revered place for you to be. No one loves a nonprofit as much as a family, but you rank pretty high. You’ve got to treat that gift with the respect it deserves.

    I hope you recognize that the gift is made at the time she tells you she’s included you in her will, or used some other method to make a gift. The gift is now. It will be cash to your organization at her death, but she’s made a gift today. Steward that gift accordingly.

    You don’t say thank you only once. You thank your planned gift donors when you first learn of their intention, and many times after.

    I’ll say more about stewardship—including simple, inexpensive ideas—in future posts.

    Some practitioners say the gift “accrues” or “matures” at your donor’s death. Though there’s probably video of me using those somewhere, I try to avoid them. They’re technical and jargon.

    I want to make Planned Giving accessible. I want you to understand it.

    My signature seminar is “Planned Giving Demystified.” I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that mine was the first Planned Giving program they understood.

    That’s enormously gratifying. It’s also disconcerting. Too many speakers and writers are talking over the heads of hard-working fundraisers trying to get a grasp on a subject that has a technical side to it but that at the outset—encouraging gifts by will—need not be out of reach.

    You don’t have to be a technical expert to have a wildly successful Planned Giving program.

    My definition above mentions that cash usually comes to your charity at death. The exceptions are gifts directly from IRAs—when those were allowed—and a fancy, uncommon trust (the charitable lead trust).

    In my Planned Giving series, I’ll focus on gifts that get you cash at your donor’s death, and are easy to understand.

    Next month, “Why Have A Planned Giving Program?” What’s the value to your organization?

    Welcome to the series!

    My thanks to Hank Lewis for inviting me to be part of this blog.

    Starting next month, February, Tony’s posts will appear on the 3rd Thursday of each month.
    Tony Martignetti, Esq. is the host of Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. He’s a Planned Giving consultant, speaker, author, blogger and stand-up comic. You’ll find him at TonyMartignetti.com.
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