You Don’t Need The Fancy Stuff For Your Planned Giving

Fancy Schmancy courtesy of Brian Teutsch on Flickr
Small- and mid-size nonprofits take note: you need not get fancy and sophisticated to have a very respectable Planned Giving program. To force a metaphor because I’m quite pleased with myself for thinking of it while brushing my teeth: you don’t need the cool electric gadget when a toothbrush will do the job very well.*

Bequests (gifts in your donors’ wills) are the place to start every Planned Giving program, irrespective of your budget, mission and size. Everyone needs a will and the charitable bequest is simple to understand and execute. In every program, this will be the most popular alternative, so expect 75 to 80% of your gifts to be by will.

I’d like to see this become popular wisdom: bequests can be the place to stop your planned gift program.

If you don’t have a big fundraising budget, access to expertise and comfort talking about fancier possibilities with your prospects and donors, then stand proud with a bequest marketing program as your sole Planned Giving offering. That is a perfectly respectable and appropriate program for smaller shops. And bigger shops that have a smaller budget.

There are scores of ways to affordably promote bequests: newsletter sidebars; newsletter articles; mentions in one-on-one meetings; mentions in large events; event table tents; event invitations; website or blog pages; Facebook pages; envelope flaps; direct mail PS’s; direct mail inserts; gift reply devices; gift acknowledgement letters and annual reports.

If I’ve piqued your interest, you may find helpful five articles I wrote for GuideStar that are no less timely two years later: Make 2010 The Year YOU Start Planned Giving. Clicking will lead you to the fifth in the six article series, and you’ll find links there to the first four. (The sixth is about gifts beyond bequests that don’t require expertise to promote.)

Charitable trusts, life insurance, gift annuities, closely-held stock, real estate and all the rest are terrific gifts. But they’re not necessary for success in Planned Giving.

Bequests–standing alone–can be a terrific Planned Giving program for your nonprofit.

* My dentist reports identical outcomes in his practice. I’ve returned to the manual method.

One thought on “You Don’t Need The Fancy Stuff For Your Planned Giving

  1. Very nicely put! What I heard you saying was that doing something in planned giving (bequests) is a whole lot better than doing nothing (…and you won’t see me putting an electric toothbrush anywhere near my mouth!)

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