Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits: Starting Planned Giving

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    This posting is by Tony Martignetti.

    Last month I gave you five reasons why you should have a Planned Giving program.

    Your organization doesn’t need much to get started, but you do need a few things in place. Here’s what I look for to decide whether Planned Giving is feasible for fundraising ideas for nonprofits.

    7 years under your belt. I used to say a nonprofit should have a steady 10 years working on its mission, but I’ve relaxed that to seven. You need that because you’ll be asking prospects and donors to include you in their estate plans, which will mean cash to you at their deaths (for the overwhelming majority of planned gifts).

    Donors need confidence that their work will survive them. If you’ve been at it for less than seven years, your longevity is questionable. Everyone hopes your good work will live on forever, but there won’t be great confidence if you’ve been working on it for less than seven years.

    Individual donors 55 and over. That’s the age I started promoting Planned Giving. It’s the age at which large numbers of people begin recognizing their will or another estate plan as a method of charitable giving. Before then, it was much more about guardianship for children and security for college educations and the mortgage, as well as gifts to the family.

    To be sure, thirty- and forty-somethings include charities in their wills. But not in large numbers. Not in numbers large enough to justify spending your scarce time and money promoting the idea to them. It’s an unwise use of resources.

    I also want you to avoid risking the much greater likelihood that those younger than 55 will change their minds and remove you from their wills.

    In our twenties, thirties, and forties do we know the charities that are close enough to us that we’ll maintain them all our lives next to our spouse, children, and grandchildren in our will? With as many as 60 or 70 years to live–no we don’t.

    The sole exception to this is board members. As the most invested volunteers, each of them should include you in their will. Some will remove you after their term, but while they’re serving you should be in their estate plan.

    The Stelter Company has research that disagrees with me and encourages Planned Giving promotion at age forty, much younger than I counsel. There’s a link to their research and my response on my blog.

    With these two features in place, your organization is ready to promote Planned Giving.
    Next month, “Start Promoting Planned Giving: Bequests I.”
    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
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