Free, Electronic Bequest-Potential Calculator Unveiled

Smart fundraising professionals realize the value of understanding their nonprofit organization’s planned giving potential. Unfortunately, it has not always been easy to quantify that potential, until now.

Bequest Potential CalculatorCharities that do not have a planned giving program will want to know how much money their organization can raise through such a program before they decide whether a budget investment would be worthwhile.

Nonprofit organizations that already engage in planned giving will want to know whether their program is achieving all it can or if there is room for significant growth.

Nonprofit Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and board members, will want to know the potential of planned giving before they agree to invest scarce budget resources in a program to acquire planned gifts.

To help fundraising professionals gauge their organization’s planned giving potential, I included a “Bequest Potential Worksheet” in my award-winning book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. Now, I’ve collaborated with Greg Warner and his team at MarketSmart to develop the free, electronic Bequest Potential Calculator.

You will find the electronic Calculator easy to use. Instead of entering a bunch of numbers on a paper worksheet and then manually working through the calculations, now all you have to do is enter the number of donors to your organization. The Bequest Potential Calculator does all of the calculations for you, and provides a written explanation of the results.

When you use the Calculator, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that I incorporated the input of Texas Tech philanthropy researcher Russell James, JD, PhD when updating my algorithm.

While Charitable Bequests are only one type of planned gift, gift planners generally consider them the most common form of planned giving. So, if you want to begin to understand your organization’s planned giving potential, checkout the Bequest Potential Calculator. Although it is not a forecasting tool, the Calculator will help you begin to better understand your organization’s potential.

Once you’ve used the Calculator, let me know what you think. How close are you to realizing your organization’s potential? Have you met or exceeded your organization’s potential?

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

9 Responses to “Free, Electronic Bequest-Potential Calculator Unveiled”

  1. love this – great tool to take back to my colleagues – we have work to do!

  2. Michael, this is BRILLIANT! I work for a Church in Australia at a diocesan level and will be working directly with parishes and priests when conducting a bequest program. Each parish has a group of people who donate each week – what we call in Australian churches “planned giving,” so this Calculator is exactly what I need (along with other successes from other parishes) to show our priests why they should be including bequests as part of their overall fundraising program. THANK YOU! Cant wait to see their reactions!

    • Philipa, thank you for your kind comment. I’m delighted to know you find the Bequest Potential Calculator to be useful. Just keep in mind that the average bequest value and the percentage of donors making a Charitable Bequest commitment are based on activity in the USA. You will likely want to substitute a more appropriate average bequest value based on the experience of the diocese or Australian charities in general. If available, you’ll also want to use a factor that more appropriately reflects the percentage of Australian donors who make a Charitable Bequest commitment. If such numbers are not available, you might want to estimate figures appropriate for Australia.

      When working with the individual parishes, you might want to have them work with you to complete a manual worksheet based on the calculator. That way, they’ll be able to see for themselves the dramatic potential that exists.

  3. Very interesting tool and it closely matches our own internal calculations based on known expectancies (about 1.200 of those, most for unknown amounts), the percent of bequests that come in that we do not know about previously (about 60 percent in both number and value), and the average size of bequests (our five-year rolling average for bequests valued between $1,000 and $1 million is just under $81,000). Our figure falls smack in the middle of your estimated range!

    • John, thank you for the feedback. I’m glad to know that the Bequest Potential Calculator resonated with you and that you found it accurate for your organization. I congratulate you on your success at the New York Public Library. By the way, I’ll be doing a seminar for the Philanthropic Planning Group of New York in April. If you’re able to make it, I hope you’ll be sure to introduce yourself. It would be great to meet you in person.

  4. I am curious to know if the calculator takes average age of donors into account. The numbers might be somewhat, or even significantly, different if one were working with donors to a nonprofit continuing care retirement community (many of whom may be elders themselves).

    • Sophie, thank you for your comment. The Calculator does not take into account the average age of a donor population nor does it take into account the type of nonprofit organization. The Calculator is based on sector averages. These are just a few of the reasons the Calculator is not a forecasting tool. Instead, it is simply a tool for folks to begin the process of understanding their organization’s bequest giving potential. It’s also why the potential range expressed is rather broad.


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