“Planned Giving Saved Our Ass”


Image courtesy of Myxi, Creative Commons license
Image courtesy of Myxi, Creative Commons license

“Planned Giving Saved Our Ass.”

That’s what a client reminded me last week. I’ve been helping the college capture planned gifts since 2004, and Planned Giving saved them four times in the last six years.

Saved them from what? Shortages in unrestricted cash. Lots of planned gifts are unrestricted—especially bequests.

We’ve been promoting long-term planned gifts together for nine years. After several years the long-term arrives, and it comes in the form of immediate-term cash.

You see, people die irrespective of recession, unemployment and stock market values. When your charity is part of hundreds or thousands of estates, some of those donors will die each year. I guarantee it.

That’s the double-edged sword of Planned Giving. We don’t want our donors to die, but when they do there’s a gift for our important work.

How many will die in a year and how much cash will result, that’s uncertain. After you’ve got unrestricted Planned Giving income for three to four years, you can look to that history for your average and median, which isn’t skewed by very large gifts. Those numbers will give you an estimate of what you can look forward to each year.

Caveat: It’s enormously unwise—reckless even—to budget for planned gift revenue, unless you’ve got many years of history and fancy finance and actuarial pros looking over your data. It’s too speculative.

All you have is a rough estimate, which is some comfort. Not for accounting, but there are other forms of comfort than spreadsheets.

I’m only talking about unrestricted planned gift income. There’s restricted money too.

If you’re not promoting planned gifts, get started. The sooner you start, the sooner your long-term will arrive.

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