Planned Giving Marketing: Art or Science?

shutterstock_26276515In the fundraising world, we frequently talk about our work being both an art and a science. Nowhere in fundraising is this more prevalent than in planned giving.

The Art: Donor Cultivation

The Science: Planned Giving Technicalities

But what about marketing planned gifts? Arguably the most important aspect of a planned giving program—is planned giving marketing an art or a science?

I think many of my planned giving colleagues would say it is more of an art. I certainly thought that for most of my 15-year career until I was thrown into the world of direct mail when my organization was short-staffed.

Attending the Direct Marketers Association Nonprofit Federation Monumental Fundraising Conference a few weeks ago reminded me of all that planned giving specialists can learn from our direct marketing colleagues. Direct mail is most definitely a science. A clever package is wasted money if the gifts don’t come in as a result.

Sure, we tell ourselves that planned gifts have such a long time frame that it is impossible to tell the effectiveness of planned giving marketing. But gifts aren’t the true measurement of planned giving marketing, are they? The goal of planned giving marketing should be to get donors to raise their hands and say they are interested in learning more. That has to be faster and easier for a donor to do than to write a check and send it in the mail, right?

Attending conferences is a great way to recharge, learn new techniques and spark creative new ideas. But I challenge my planned giving friends to seek out a free learning experience—walk down the hall and talk with your annual fund colleagues to see what you can learn about the tried, tested and true techniques that work with your donors. After all, they have it down to a science.

– Posted by Meg Roberts, CFRE


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