Planned Giving Days, hosted annually by the National Capital Gift Planning Council, has become one of my favorite conferences of the year. Why? Because gift planners understand the need to talk with their donors about their most heartfelt desires. As fundraisers, it can be all too easy to get caught up in budgets and mail plans and forget that our work is really about providing our donors with opportunities to live their deepest convictions.
Here are 5 takeaways from this year’s Planned Giving Days that I hope will spark some new thinking for all of your communications with donors.
1. Stewardship matters more than ever. A Sharpe Group study of 4000 estates for 40 different organizations found that half of all bequests came from people who had updated there will within three years of their death. While people may write their wills in their 50s and 60s, they are updating them regularly. If you’re not engaging and stewarding those donors well, you may be forgotten.
2. Good stewardship is about making your donors say, “Wow!” Karen Osborne of the Osborne Group suggests thinking of your donors as “philanthropic customers.” It’s your job to deliver excellent service to these customers and to make sure they know how their gifts are making a difference.
3. Don’t make the mistake of thinking planned giving donors are not online. Across the board, experts in the field are reporting excellent results with email communications that allow you to reach a much larger audience of potential bequest donors for less money.
4. We’re on the cusp of a significant increase in planned giving. John Jensen of the Sharpe Group reported that the years from 1920-1933 saw the lowest birthrates among Americans in this century. But birth rates started to climb in 1934, and beginning in 2018, more Americans will be reaching the prime bequest age. Investing in planned giving marketing today will ensure your organization is ready to reap the rewards.
5. Values matter. Donors support your organization because it allows them to define their values and make their mark in the world. You need to make sure you’re talking to your donors about their values, not just in your bequest mailings, but in all of your communications. Karen Gallardo of AARP Foundation brought home this point during her Ignite presentation, sharing stories of the deep fulfillment donors gain from contributing in a lasting way to the causes they deeply believe in.
– Posted by Kathy Swayze, CFRE