Archive for March, 2011

March 24, 2011

Remove Obstacles to Giving!

There are many obstacles to philanthropic giving. Sadly, many of those obstacles are put in place by the very nonprofit organizations that are seeking and dependent upon contributions. I heard a ridiculous example of this recently when I was presenting at the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference. Let me share with you what happened.

I was teaching “Donor-Centered Marketing: Tips to Boost Your Planned Giving Results.” I explained to my audience that it’s important to make it easy for prospects to contact us. I told the group that their full contact information should be used in their email signature block. That’s when someone challenged me. She said that she had read a magazine article about sales that said that email senders should stop using signature blocks since they 1) clutter email messages, and 2) since readers know how to contact the sender or can easily find out how to contact the sender. (She cited a mass-market publication that supposedly espoused the view she was sharing, but since I have been unable to find the referenced article, I will not name the magazine here.)

There’s no reason to consider not using an email signature. The argument that it clutters the message is bogus. An email signature comes at the very end of an email message. If someone doesn’t want to look at it, it’s easily ignored. If someone wants the information, it’s right there.

The suggestion that we should not use an email signature because people know how to reach us already or can find us if they want to is utter nonsense! Why in the world would we force people to find us in order to give us their money? Why would we make it difficult for people to reach us and donate? Good grief!

Photo by Rafael A.G. Mendoza via Flickr

We need to make it easy for prospective donors and supporters to get in touch with us. That’s the donor-centered thing to do. If we force folks to play detective and hunt for our contact information, they may rightly think we don’t care about them, and they may just as easily search for the contact information of another organization. So, don’t frustrate your email recipients by making them search for how to contact you the way they want.

read more »

March 17, 2011

Why Am I Passionate about Planned Giving?

I’m passionate about charitable gift planning for two fundamental reasons:

  1. It’s good for donors.
  2. It’s good for those who benefit from the services of nonprofit organizations.

Allow me to explain.

Gift planning allows donors to fulfill their philanthropic aspirations in meaningful ways. Simply put, it allows donors to give more than they might otherwise be able to give. Through deferred planned gifts, donors can support their favorite charities without the need to make a current sacrifice. This is especially important during these tough economic times when donors are more reluctant to make significant, current gifts. In addition, effective gift planning can help donors meet the needs of loved ones while supporting their favorite nonprofit organizations. Through planned giving, the doors to major-gift status are open to almost anyone.

read more »

March 11, 2011

Who Has the Ability to Make a Planned Gift?

Quite simply, virtually everyone has the ability to make a planned gift.

With this blog post, I’m going to throw a lot of statistics at you. Hang-in there. By the time you get through this piece, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of the ability of your prospects to make a planned gift. Let’s start by considering the following factoids which I uncovered while doing research for my book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing:

  • Among survey respondents over age 30, 69 percent expect to leave an inheritance. (The Stelter Company)
  • People over the age of 50 control 70 percent of all privately held financial assets in the United States. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Of those 65 years or older, 81 percent owned their own home in 2005. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Of those 55 to 64 years of age, 79.8 percent own their own home. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • The average home value in 2000 was $96,442. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • The median household net worth for those aged 65 and older was $108,885 in 2000. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • A 2005 study found that 50.3 percent of U.S. households owned equities in some form with 34.7 percent owning equities outside of employer sponsored retirement plans. (Investment Company Institute and Securities Industry Association)

While the above figures will fluctuate with changes in the economy, one fact is consistent: The vast majority of older Americans have sufficient assets with which to make a charitable planned gift should they choose to do so. A simple charitable bequest gift is certainly within reach of most Americans. Many Americans can even afford a charitable gift annuity which can be established with some charities in some states for as little as $1,000. A great many Americans own appreciated securities some of which they could donate if they chose.

While nearly all Americans have the ability to make some type of planned gift, the size of those gifts will vary greatly. Most will be somewhat modest to the recipient organization even if meaningful to the donor. The size of a planned gift will depend on many factors of which ability is just one. And, ability is something defined by the donor who will consider his/her assets, obligations, and desires. For example, a woman with an estate valued at just under $1 million decided that her children did not need an inheritance from her estate. So, she made arrangements for virtually her entire estate to be donated to a scholarship foundation through a charitable bequest. Another person, with a similar estate size, might have reached a different conclusion about the needs of her family and, therefore, might have given a much smaller amount or might have structured the gift differently. To understand a prospect’s perceptions about the ability to make a gift and the prospect’s family needs, one must talk with the prospect.

read more »

March 3, 2011

How Much Could Your Planned Giving Program be Worth?

If your organization already has a gift planning program, is it worth investing more money to promote it?

If your organization is contemplating starting a gift planning program, will it really be worthwhile to do?

In my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, I wanted to help development professionals answer those questions. So, I developed a worksheet that looks at the most common planned gift instrument: charitable bequests. Of course, bequests are just one facet of a planned giving program. Charitable gift annuities, trusts and, some would even say, gifts of stock can also be part of a robust planned giving program. However, since most planned gifts will be in the form of bequests let’s look more closely at what your organization’s potential is for this type of gift.

To truly project how much a planned giving program can produce, one must understand as many of the variables as possible including the nature of the prospect pool, the wealth of prospects, the passion of prospects, the history of the organization, past service performance, the purpose of the fundraising effort, the nature of the cause, the community, past philanthropic performance, the marketing effort, and so on. Collectively, this makes it difficult to forecast planned giving results. However, one can fairly easy gauge an organization’s potential given a mythical, ideal set of circumstances. The following worksheet is meant to provide development professionals with an understanding of the broad potential impact of planned giving for their organizations.

While this is not a scientific forecasting tool and while the worksheet only addresses one type of gift, it can still help with forecasting by outlining aspirational targets. This worksheet looks at the most common, easy-to-market type of planned gift while my book also includes a worksheet for projecting charitable gift annuity potential.

read more »

%d bloggers like this: