Skip Wealth Screening For Planned Giving

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photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc

I consistently preach this to clients and audiences: small-and mid-size nonprofits need not spend money on wealth screening to find potential Planned Giving donors. You have all the data you need in your fundraising or CRM database.

Query your data for age and giving consistency and you’ll find your best Planned Giving prospects.

If you don’t have age info, consistency alone will work if you’ve been around for many years. Lots of my clients go back many decades, sometimes into the late 1800’s. But 20th century roots will be fine for you to rely on giving consistency as a proxy for age.

If a donor has been giving for 30 years, for instance, they’re probably in the age range you’re after.

If you don’t have giving data going back far enough to extrapolate age, then before you pay for an age overlay from a screening service consider this. Can you survey your donors with a reply card in your next mailing? If you don’t want to ask for date of birth, ask for age. It’s worth considering before you make the plunge into age screening.

An important word about giving consistency. Ignore gift size.

I literally mean if a donor has given you just $5 a year, and they’ve done it for 18 years out of the past 20, or 25 years out of the past 30, then they are an outstanding prospect for a charitable bequest, which is a gift to you in their will. (I said a lot about starting your PG program with bequests in this series for GuideStar.)

The students at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Center for Excellence heard me say this just last week.

Age and giving consistency. That’s all you need to get started in Planned Giving.

Large shops will want to move beyond bequests, so they may wisely invest in wealth screening further down the road. But it’s not needed at the outset.

Small- and mid-size nonprofits can have very respectable PG programs that start and stop with gifts by will.

To launch any program–big or small–you can skip wealth screening.

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