Posts tagged ‘Charitable Gift Annuity’

October 2, 2013

Special Report: Live Interview with Author of Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing

On Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, at noon (EDT), Denise McMahan will interview me about my award-winning book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. This is a free webinar presented by CausePlanet. To learn more and to register, click here.

McMahan, the Founder and Publisher of CausePlanet, will focus the interview on some of the book’s highlights, including:Book Cover: "Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing"

  • Identify who makes planned gifts and assess your organization’s potential for planned giving.
  • Understand planned gift donors’ motivations and how these fuel the author’s recommended approaches.
  • Explore how to educate and cultivate planned gift prospects and professional advisors.
  • Engage in effective asks and stewardship practices.

During the lively discussion, I will also share new insights based on the latest research.

Do you want to start a planned giving program? Do you want to reinvigorate an existing planned giving program? Do you want to maximize your planned giving results? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, then register today for this free webinar about the book that earned the prestigious AFP/Skystone Partners Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy.

Here are some reviews of Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing:

August 23, 2013

5 Words or Phrases that Can Cause Donors to Cringe

Words have the power to inspire. They also have the power to alienate. Words can touch us or they can fall flat.

In my previous post, I shared seven words that, when used together, can earn you the respect, trust, and appreciation of prospects and donors.

Word by Whatknot via FlickrMary Cahalane, of the Hands-on Fundraising blog, looked at words from a different perspective in her excellent post “7 Words and Phrases that Should Die.” 

Inspired by Mary, I now want to share my list of planned-giving and major-giving related words and phrases that, at times, make me cringe:

Planned Giving. I know, I just used the term “planned giving,” and now I’m telling you it makes me cringe. Let me explain. The term is jargon. As such, I think it’s fine to use with other nonprofit professionals in the office. It nicely encompasses all of the various ways of planning a gift. Unfortunately, most donors have either no idea what the term means or only a vague, partial notion.

When speaking with a prospect, avoid talking about “planned giving.” Instead, talk with your prospects about their “legacy” and the specific gift structure(s) you want to suggest. For example, talk about a gift in a will or a Charitable Gift Annuity rather than using the confusing and, for the context, overly broad term “planned giving.” If you need a generic term to use with prospects, I prefer “legacy giving,” while I acknowledge that that phrase is not completely without its own problems.

Bequest. When you read the previous paragraph, you might have noticed I avoided this word. You might have guessed that I don’t particularly like the word “bequest.” If you did, you’re right.

First, many people don’t really understand what a “bequest” is. Second, many of those who do understand the word think it is something only rich folks do. Third, the word sounds funereal to some.

Instead of using the word “bequest,” talk with prospects in simple, easy to understand terms. Don’t ask them to make a charitable bequest commitment. Ask your prospects to include your organization in their will.

Philanthropy. This is a great word. It comes from a Greek word literally meaning “love of humankind.” Unfortunately, some prospects, and even some donors, find the word alienating.

I remember speaking with a woman while we were waiting in the wings at a National Philanthropy Day luncheon. I was about to present her with the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Greater Philadelphia Legacy Award for Planned Giving Philanthropist of the Year. She told me she was honored to be present, but she wanted me to know, “I’m not really a philanthropist.”

I explained to the award recipient what the word “philanthropy” means. And I explained that it is not a term that is exclusive to the wealthy. I made sure she understood that she is indeed a philanthropist. I’m glad I had the chance to explain “philanthropy” to this caring donor. Sadly, we don’t always have such an opportunity.

If you’re thinking about using the word “philanthropy,” know your audience and know whether the term will resonate. Just keep in mind that 70 percent of people with investible assets of $1 million or more do not consider themselves wealthy, according to The UBS Investor Watch. If your prospects think “philanthropy” is only for the wealthy, and they’re not wealthy, you’re going to have some problems if you toss around the word. Words such as “legacy” or “support” might do nicely instead.

July 26, 2013

Prospects Are Not Feeling Their “Wealth”

Seventy percent of people with investible assets of $1 million or more do NOT consider themselves “wealthy.”

That stunning news comes from The UBS Investor Watch for the third quarter of 2013. For the report, UBS surveyed 4,000 investors in the US.

The report also found that four out of five survey respondents are either supporting adult children or elderly parents to some degree.

The current edition of The UBS Investor Watch has significant implications for Poor Little Rich Girlnonprofit organizations and their fundraising programs, especially planned giving efforts.

This is particularly true if we take a moment to consider what other studies have revealed about perception of wealth and giving. Research projects have shown that many donors think that planned giving, even bequest commitments, are something that only wealthy people do.

For example, in one focus group study, The George Washington University learned that some alumni held the mistaken belief that bequests involve very large financial commitments from those who are very wealthy. As I describe in my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, three problems arise from this thinking:

First, prospects believe that bequest giving is simply not for them, but rather the wealthy—many who are truly wealthy do not perceive themselves as such and, instead, think of themselves as merely ‘comfortable.’ Second, while some prospects might be willing to give through a bequest, they might not actually do so because they feel their gift would be too insignificant to matter. Third, some prospects expressed embarrassment over the notion of giving a modest bequest gift while the perceived norm is much larger.”

As the UBS study shows, a great number of wealthy individuals do not consider themselves wealthy. As other studies have shown, many people think planned giving is something that only the wealthy do. This means that many people with significant assets will fail to make a planned gift believing it is not something for them.

So, how can nonprofits overcome this perception?

Charities do not need to convince people that they are truly wealthy when they do not think that to be the case. That would certainly be an awkward and unproductive conversation. Instead, nonprofit organizations must do a better job of educating prospects so that they understand that the organization needs and appreciates all planned gifts, assuming that’s the case.

As I share in my book:

July 15, 2013

Special Report: Webinar — “How to Launch and Market a Planned Giving Program at Your Nonprofit”

On Thursday, July 25, 2013, I will be presenting the webinar “How to Launch and Market a Planned Giving Program at Your Nonprofit” from 4:00 – 5:00 PM (EST – 21:00 GMT). The program is hosted by the Fundraising Authority who will also make the program available as a podcast.

For more information and to register, click HERE. 

During the webinar, you will learn: 

  • Why right now is the perfect time to start or enhance a planned giving effort;
  • Five simple, common types of planned gifts;
  • How to spot your best planned giving prospects;
  • How to easily educate and cultivate prospects with little or no budget;
  • What motivates planned giving prospects;
  • How to ask for planned gifts;
  • And much, much more.

Everyone who participates in the program will also receive a packet of handouts including a special worksheet that will allow you to calculate your organization’s bequest giving potential.

This seminar is designed for everyone who wants to raise more money through planned giving. This webinar will be particularly helpful for Executive Directors, Development Directors, development staff members, and board members who are interested in learning how easy and effective planned giving can be for nonprofits of all sizes. Register today for one site and invite as many people as you like to watch and listen at your site.

If your organization needs a speaker, please click here or contact me.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

  

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June 28, 2013

It’s Not Just What You Say, But How You Say It

I learned a long time ago, as a development professional, that having a great case for support is nearly meaningless unless you also develop compelling messaging.

Later, when attending the Association of Fundraising Professionals Faculty Training Academy, the workshop leader made this same point in the context of making presentations. The AFP/FTA takes good speakers and turns them into the best.

Unfortunately, a great many nonprofit organizations continue to send the same dull, institutional-focused direct mail that prospects easily bypass in the paper shuffle. Charities continue to make uninspiring calls, publish informative articles few read, run ads that donors will only glance at and soon forget.

GCheeseiven the pressures we face in our daily lives and the enormous demands on our time, I understand first-hand how simple it can be to take the easy way. Knowing the content of our message is important, we’re sometimes lulled into the belief that that is enough to make the message compelling.

Well, it’s usually not. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it that counts.

Let’s step away from the nonprofit sector for an example that will make what I’m suggesting crystal clear.

My wife and I are foodies. We live in Philadelphia, a fantastic restaurant city. We’re choosey about where we eat. And we’re even pickier about which restaurant email lists we subscribe to. However, like I said, we’re foodies. So, we’ve ended up on a lot of restaurant email lists, though just the good ones.

Recently, my wife received an email from Tria, a wine, cheese, and beer café that we enjoy. It read, in part:

Cheese, Please

With due respect to our current cheese menu, variety is the spice of life. We’re introducing a brand new list of summer fromage that we’re excited to brag about share with you.

Announcing! The Tria Spring Cheese Menu

Out with the old list, in with the new. Starting today, we’ll be replacing every single cheese on our menu with a new alternate for the summer. No, we aren’t throwing out tons of delicious cheese (the horror!) from our current list – as one is finished, a new one will take over the former’s place on the menu. Pop by and scout out the arrival of a new ultra-creamy Crottin-style cheese from Georgia, a funky thistle-rennet cheese from Spain that redefines luscious, the best cheddar in the world, and much much more. We promise drool-worthy images on our Twitter and Instagram feeds as the curds switch up.

When: Today through the rest of the summer

Where: Tria Rittenhouse and Tria Wash West”

You can see the full message here. 

Tria used humor to capture our attention, and great descriptions that engaged our senses to hold on to our attention. The message also gave us important information about the new offering including when and where we can find it.

The café could have imparted the same core information far more simply. Tria could have said:

Tria has begun offering its summer cheese menu. Visit our Rittenhouse or Wash West location to try the new cheese selection.”

Both messages impart the same basic information and address the what, when, where questions. However, there is no doubt that the original message is far more engaging and, therefore, far more effective.

My wife, also a development professional, agrees on this point. She liked the email so much, she took the unusual step of sending this response:

June 7, 2013

15 Common Planned Giving Myths Debunked (Part 2)

Last week, I presented eight planned giving myths that were identified and debunked by fellow fundraising professionals from the Smart Planned Giving Marketers Group on LinkedIn.

Myth by YaelBeeri via FlickrThis week, I’m presenting the seven additional myths I promised along with a bonus myth.

Continuing to embrace planned giving myths can be harmful. Doing so will make you less helpful to your donors, less able to raise money, and less able to realize your career aspirations. That’s why I felt it important to identify and debunk some common gift planning myths.

Judging from the large number of readers Part 1 attracted, I know plenty of folks around the world agree with me. While I have numbered the myths, strictly for reference purposes, I am presenting them here in alphabetical order by contributor:

Michael J. Rosen, CFRE, President, ML Innovations:

In my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, I go into detail when debunking five planned giving myths which I’ll summarize here:

MYTH 9 — Planned giving is very difficult.

Gift planning can certainly be challenging, However, for the most part, it involves fairly simple gifts: Bequests, CGAs, appreciated property (i.e.: stock).

MYTH 10 — One needs to be a planned giving expert to be involved in gift planning.

Nope. While it would be helpful to be a planned giving expert, it’s not necessary. The vast majority of planned gifts will come from Bequests. CGAs and appreciated property are two other simple, popular types of planned gifts. You don’t need to be an overall planned giving expert to master those planned giving vehicles. However, you should be familiar with other gift planning options and know who to call for assistance when a donor wants to talk about those other options.

MYTH 11 — All planned gifts are deferred.

No, they’re not. For example, a gift of appreciated stock is a current gift. Even with a deferred gift such as a Bequest, depending on the age of the donor, you might not need to wait all that long for the gift to be realized.

MYTH 12 — Good marketing focuses on organizational needs.

Nope. Good marketing actually involves being donor centered.

MYTH 13 — Planned gift marketing should be passive.

Many development pros think it is inappropriate to actually ask for a planned gift. However, 88.7 percent of donors say otherwise. So, why have only 22 percent of Americans over the age of 30 been asked to make a planned gift?”

Charley Shirley, CPA, Senior Consultant, Donor By Design Group LLC:

May 31, 2013

15 Common Planned Giving Myths Debunked (Part 1)

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.

Goddess Athena by Great Beyond via Flickr

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.”

Phil Melberge:

MYTH 5 — It costs too much.”

May 24, 2013

When is an Investment NOT an Investment?

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. But, not always.

If it looks like an investment, involves tax consequences like an investment, and produces a return like an investment, then it is probably an investment. But, not always.

So, when is an investment not an investment?

When it’s a Charitable Gift Annuity.

“A CGA is a contract (not a ‘trust’), under which a charity, in return for a transfer of cash, marketable securities or other assets, agrees to pay a fixed amount of money to one or two individuals, for their lifetime,” according to the American Council on Gift Annuities. 

Rubber Ducks by Felix63 via FlickrI’ll admit that CGAs do look a great deal like an investment vehicle. A CGA involves a proposal that contains an illustration of how the gift will work; it involves tax benefits; and, it involves a rate of return. It’s easy to see why donors and even many development professionals think of CGAs as an investment opportunity.

The ACGA Board of Directors voted recently to make no changes to the suggested maximum CGA return rates that originally became effective January 1, 2012. The current rate schedule will remain in effect until further notice. This news prompted a planned giving professional to post the following message on a listserv: 

We usually do a promotion to current annuitants and recent inquiries, when the new CGA rates get announced. Whether they go up or down, it’s a message I can easily work with (either promoting the new increased rates, or ‘act now before rates go down in July,’ etc.).

Not sure what to do since they are staying the same – they’re not so great that staying the same is anything to brag about. Just curious what others are doing, or if laying low on this and focusing promotions in other areas.”

That posting demonstrates that some development professionals tend to think of CGAs as investment vehicles rather than philanthropic instruments. There are a number of reasons why this is problematic:

May 3, 2013

5 Tips for Giving Donors What They Really Want

Do you know what your donors want?

Do they want a clever t-shirt? A fancy certificate? A lovely lapel pin? A practical coffee mug? A recognition lunch?

Maybe. However, while some donors will appreciate receiving trinkets or invitations to recognition events, others really don’t care and still others will view such items as a waste of money.

So, what do your donors really want?

Virtually all donors want to know that their donations will have a positive impact. In other words, donors of all sizes want to know that their contributions make a difference. The younger the donor, the more true this is. In addition, they want to feel like they are partners with the organizations they support.

Renata J. Rafferty, in her book Don’t Just Give It Away, advises philanthropists, “You truly want the charity to view you as a partner in its work, and partnerships are successful only when all parties can be candid with one another.”

The way to partner with donors and let them know they are having the desired impact is through solid stewardship. You need to be transparent. You need to candidly give them the information they want.

Stewardship is defined by the AFP Fundraising Dictionary as:

a process whereby an organization seeks to be worthy of continued philanthropic support, including the acknowledgment of gifts, donor recognition, the honoring of donor intent, prudent investment of gifts, and the effective and efficient use of funds to further the mission of the organization.”

As I mention in my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing:

Stewardship will help the donor feel good about her commitment. It will ensure that revocable gifts (i.e., bequests) remain in force and, perhaps, increase in value over time. Good stewardship can also lead to another planned gift from the donor. For example, a donor who makes a bequest commitment may be impressed by the organization and a sufficient level of trust might have been developed through the process to allow the donor to feel comfortable making a donation to establish a charitable gift annuity (CGA). A donor who establishes a CGA may feel so comfortable having done so, he may decide to establish a second. Or, a CGA donor may make a bequest commitment.”

CIR Page One - JFGP-1Great stewardship can help strengthen your organization’s relationships with donors. The additional benefit is that solid stewardship of existing donors can also build relationships with prospective donors as well.

Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has figured this out.

Rather than generating a bland, corporate annual report that examines the fiscal condition of the organization, Federation has produced a Community Impact Report that looks at the difference the organization is having on people’s lives.

There are a number of things worth noting about the Community Impact Report:

1. It exists. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the report is simply that it exists. Most nonprofit organizations thank donors for their support. However, far fewer charities report on how gifts are put to use.

Federation prepares a Community Impact Report each year. Actually, it usually prepares two reports, mid-year and end-of-year documents. Now on its fifth report, Federation uses the information to keep the community updated about its work toward mission fulfillment.

2. It focuses on outcomes. Unlike a typical annual report, the Community Impact Report is not a state-of-the-organization analysis. Instead, the report examines the impact the organization is having on its service area. It’s a report about mission fulfillment.

“Our donors really appreciate seeing the level of accountability we have achieved,” says Alex Stroker, Federation’s Chief Operating Officer. “They also like to know that we are focused on program outcomes.”

April 19, 2013

16 Tips for Crafting a Powerful Postcard Campaign

As you might imagine, I regularly receive direct mail appeals from many charities. Most of them are truly “junk mail.” After a quick glance, I quickly deposit the junk appeals into the recycling bin where they will do much more good than their intended purpose.

JFGP Postcard (front, back)

JFGP Postcard (click for larger image)

Occasionally, I’ll receive a mailing that captures my attention, for the right reasons. Even more rarely, I’ll find something in my mailbox that is worthy of sharing with you. Earlier this month, I found just such a piece.

The postcard mailing from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia arrived shortly before the Passover and tied into the holiday. This post contains an image of the front and back of the postcard so you can see it for yourself. Federation did a great job with the piece. So, let me take a few moments to share some tips we all can learn from it:

1. Get rid of the envelope. One of the greatest challenges with direct mail is getting people to open the envelope. They won’t get your message unless they do. If you can get your message across in a way that does not require a full mailing package, you can overcome this challenge by simply doing away with the envelope altogether. Federation’s postcard mailing has done exactly that.

2. Employ a pattern interrupt. Another challenge with direct mail involves figuring out ways to engage the recipient so they spend more than two seconds with the piece before tossing it into the trash. When most folks go through their mail, they quickly look for the fun stuff and bills. People quickly weed-out what appears to be junk.

So, how did Federation disrupt the typical mail-sorting pattern? They did it with two very different photos on the front of an odd-sized postcard. While speedily going through my mail, I noticed an old-fashioned, sepia-tone photo of an older couple on the postcard. Beside it, there was a contemporary color picture of a cute, young child eating matzo. The postcard got me to ask, “Huh, what’s this about?”

In other words, Federation caught my attention by being unusual and by presenting contrasting photographs. They knocked me out of my normal mail-sorting pattern.

3. Make it easy to read. By printing black type on a white background, Federation provides strong contrast that makes reading easier. While reverse type was used — something I normally do not approve of — it was used sparingly and with a larger serif font ensuring easy readability.

4. Keep the message brief but impactful. In about 50 words, I learned that Mr. and Mrs. Schweig had passed away long ago. However, I also learned they had contributed to Federation. Most compellingly, I discovered that their generous support would feed 1,500 community members in need during Passover.

The generosity of the Schweigs impressed me. The depth of the community need surprised me. The organization really had my attention.

5. Engage the reader. I was already engaged with the postcard when the photos caught my attention and I read the pithy message on the front of the card. However, the card engaged me further with a simple question: “What will your legacy be?” By asking the reader a question, you can get them to stop and think.

6. Provide more details. On the address-side of the postcard, the reader is told that Mr. and Mrs. Schweig made their gift through a bequest. Providing additional details and telling people where they can get even more information will satisfy all readers and their individual levels of curiosity.

7. Demonstrate impact. Donors want to make a difference. Whether they give to the annual fund or make a planned gift commitment, people want to know that their support will have a positive impact. They want to know that their donations will be used efficiently to help the organization fulfill its mission.

This postcard shows how the support of past donors is being put to good use. The implied messages are: We wisely use the support from past donors to help the community. We can help you to have a positive, high-impact as well.

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