Sadly, many myths about planned giving continue to exist. Some of these keep nonprofit organizations from engaging in gift planning. Others lead development professionals to make terrible, costly mistakes.
All planned giving myths are dangerous.
Statue of Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom.
That’s why I believe that debunking common planned giving myths is important. In fact, I feel it’s so important that I addressed five of them in the very first chapter of my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. I’ll summarize them next week in Part 2 along with some other myths.
For now, I’m going to share eight myths identified by the members of the Smart Planned Giving Marketers Group on LinkedIn. The remaining seven will be featured next week.
Greg Warner, President of MarketSmart, started the Group which now numbers 577. If you have any interest in planned giving, you should join.
Recently, Greg started a terrific discussion to identify and debunk common planned giving myths. So far, the Smart Planned Giving Marketers Group has identified and debunked 15 planned giving myths. While I have numbered the myths, strictly for reference purposes, I am presenting them here in alphabetical order by contributor:
Ronald Blaum, Director of Gift Planning, Church World Service:
MYTH 1 — The Estate Tax is a mandatory tax.
To stimulate conversation in a group setting, I’ll often ask this question: ‘Paying estate taxes are voluntary, right?’ And, of course, people say, ‘No, they are not.’ Then, I proceed to show how the use of charitable gifting strategies and other techniques can make most, if not all, estates tax-free. With the higher estate exemption, the far greater concern for most people should be minimizing the negative impact of Income Tax on qualified plans, not estate tax. Think about what assets to use for gifting, not just the dollar amount or percentage of an estate.”
Reeve Chudd, Partner, Ervin, Cohen & Jessup:
MYTH 2 — My kids will resent me doing it.
I’ve been handling estates with charitable bequests for 34 years, and not once have I heard the heirs doing anything but enjoying the recognition their parents receive posthumously from charitable recipients. Further, when a name appears on a building or a program as a permanent memorial of a deceased donor, I see their children relishing their name connection to such philanthropy.”
Greg Lassonde, CFRE, Legacy Giving Specialist:
MYTH 3 — Age is an important factor in list segmentation.
The reality is that sometimes age is an important secondary factor in list segmentation. One example of this is Charitable Gift Annuities. If your organization’s minimum age for issuing a CGA contract is 70, you might want to mail only to those older than 55 (going that low for deferred CGAs).”
As Greg notes, while age can be an important secondary factor, the reality is that planned gift opportunities exist at every age level. For example, while it’s best to make a CGA appeal to older prospects, Bequests should be marketed to a broader age band, particularly those in their 40s and 50s. The points here are that while age is certainly of some importance, it is more important to recognize that the quality of the relationships is what is critically important, and that virtually everyone is a prospect for some type of planned gift.
Hazel Lloyst, CFRE, Capital Campaign Manager at Loyalist College:
MYTH 4 — [You can] judge a donor by their outward appearance.
From experience, I have found that many of my most frugal donors turned out to be the most generous, altruistic donors upon their passing. It was a pleasure to work with them over the years and hear their stories. It was always with tremendous gratitude that I was able to ensure their wishes were followed upon their passing while helping to ensure the timely transfer of their estate.”
MYTH 5 — It costs too much.”
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