Start Promoting Planned Giving: Bequests I

Sections of this topic

    This posting by: Tony Martignetti.

    Last month I gave you two things you need in place to make Planned Giving feasible.

    Now we’re ready to start promoting your inaugural Planned Giving program. Who are the prospects?

    Your best prospects are:
     55 and over
     loyal, consistent donors, irrespective of dollar amount
     board members, irrespective of age and giving consistency

    Lots of charities don’t have age in their database. If you’re among them, do that donor survey you’ve been thinking about and ask for birthdate (preferred) or age. If you’re planning a wealth or other data screening, include an age overlay.

    Maybe your constituency is familiar to you and good prospects are popping into your mind. Give it more thought, canvass your staff, and you’ll come up with still more planned gift prospects.

    If none of those apply to you, then rely only on giving history (and your board). If someone has been a donor for 15 or 20 years, there’s a good chance they’re in their late forties or fifties, putting you in the ballpark.

    If your charity hasn’t been around that long and you don’t have age data, then you’ve got no choice but to consider each of your consistent donors a prospect. Are you sure you can’t get out a survey?

    Inaugurate your program with bequests—charitable gifts by will. For several reasons:
     they’re easy to understand
     everyone should have a will by the time they’re 55
     donors like knowing they can change their minds
     donors like knowing they don’t have to tell you about their gift
     there’s no lifetime cost

    Those features make bequests the foundation of any Planned Giving program. Expect three-quarters or more of your planned gifts to come from bequests.

    The most effective way to promote gifts by will is personalized direct mail. It’s also the most expensive, so if your budget can’t support that, stick with me. There are plenty of other channels, which I’ll cover in coming posts.
    Direct mailers should use all the outreach ideas I recommend, not just mail.
    If you can afford to mail to your prospects, write an appropriately worded letter. This is the toughest part, I know. It’s also something I routinely do for my clients, so I have lots of experience to share with you next month.
    In May, “Write The Letter & Other Promotion Channels: Bequests II.”
    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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