Archive for March 11th, 2011

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.

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