Fighting Chronic Under-Investment Syndrome

shutterstock_360878210Time and time again, we hear clients and potential clients tell us that they want to grow their planned giving program—just as soon as it is approved in their new budget!

We aren’t talking about hiring a new staff member or launching a comprehensive marketing program. We’re talking about investing in one direct mail letter or even one factsheet to have on hand for inquiries, relatively small budget items.

We have heard it so often that we have given it a name: Chronic Under-Investment Syndrome (CUIS).

Organizations of all sizes can be afflicted. You’ll recognize it by the wishful thinking and passive nature of conversation when it comes to talking about budgeting for planned giving.

Unfortunately, the long-term effects are crippling for an organization—potentially millions can be lost every year that a budget cycle goes by without including investment in planned giving.

What do you do if you suspect your organization suffers from CUIS?

Step 1: Make a strong case for planned giving investment. The average bequest size in our country is estimated to be between $35,000 and $70,000. FOR ONE GIFT. What is the average bequest size at your organization? How many inquiries do you get each year? Imagine if you could secure just one extra commitment for the next 5 years. That makes the investment just a tiny percentage of your return.

Step 2: Stand firm in your convictions. It’s easy for your budget requests to be pushed aside when there are so many needs for immediate dollars, and we all understand the ramifications of not meeting those needs. But it’s still not a good reason for giving up on investing in planned giving. That would be the equivalent of paying off all your debt before you begin saving for retirement. It’s just not a smart financial move for your future.

Step 3: Plan ahead. Think about growing your planned giving program over a period of 3-5 years, and communicate this long-term plan to your leadership. This allows you to allocate a small amount towards planned giving in the first few years and begin to show a return on that investment in terms of increased commitments. It’ll then be much easier to get backing for continued planned giving investment.

If you suspect your organization suffers from CUIS, don’t panic. With proper treatment, you can cure it and be on your way to a successful future.

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