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.

What’s good for donors is usually good for nonprofit organizations. Planned giving is no exception. Since records have been kept, charitable giving as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product has been about two percent. Philanthropic performance in the U.S. has remained steady despite the explosive growth in the number of nonprofit organizations, the dramatic growth in the number of development professionals, and the professionalization of fundraising and nonprofit management.

The one area of fundraising that continues to perform far below its potential is planned giving. Consider the Stelter study that reveals that only 22% of those over age 30 have been asked to make a planned gift. Nonprofit organizations can do more to develop planned gifts. If the sector steps-up to this challenge, the sector just might be able to move the philanthropic-performance needle above the two percent mark. After all, it would take a lot of $25 donations to move that needle; it would take far fewer $35,000 planned gifts. The more money the sector can raise, the more good work nonprofit organizations can do and the more society will benefit.

Because of my passion for gift planning, I wrote the book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. I hope it will inspire the nonprofit sector to engage more fully in planned giving. For its part, the Association of Fundraising Professionals acknowledged the importance of planned giving when it announced that my book is the recipient of the 2010-11 AFP-Skystone Partners Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy. This is the first time in more than a decade that an author has been presented the AFP-Skystone Prize for a book about planned giving. (You can read the official AFP announcement by clicking here.)

If you’re going to be attending the AFP International Conference, I invite you to come to my session “Donor-Centered Marketing: Tips to Boost Your Planned Giving Results” (Monday, 2:45 PM). I also invite you to stop-by when I’m signing books in the AFP Bookstore (Tuesday, 10:30-11:30 AM).

When we engage in gift planning, we help our donors and we help our organizations which ultimately helps the beneficiaries of the services our organizations provide. Planned giving can help make our world a better place.

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

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