Posts tagged ‘Charitable Gift Annuity’

September 3, 2015

Are You Smarter than a Fourth Grader?

A few weeks ago, I got to spend time with my niece Nicole and nephew Evan who were visiting Philadelphia before the start of the new school year in Florida. They’re wonderful kids, and it was great seeing them.

Evan by Michael Rosen

My nephew, Evan.

One evening when 9-year-old Evan and I were hanging out, I decided to ask him an odd question to see where it might go:

If you wanted someone to give you money, what would you do?”

Evan, who just entered the fourth grade and has no fundraising experience, replied:

I’d ask them.”

Bingo! Evan instinctively knows one of the fundamental rules of fundraising: If you want donations, you have to ask for them.

So, are you smarter than a fourth grader?

Since you’re reading this post, I’m going to assume you know the general importance of the ask in the fundraising process. However, knowing and doing are two different things. So, let me ask you a few more questions:

Do you ask for planned gifts?

While 88.7 percent of people surveyed say that it’s appropriate for a nonprofit organization to ask for a legacy gift, researchers found that only 22 percent of those over the age of 30 have been asked. In other words, there are a huge number of people who are willing to be asked for a planned gift but who are not.

Even among those charities that do ask people to make a planned gift, the ask is reserved for a very narrow group of prospects that might include major donors, board members, and people who have requested planned giving information. Those asks are most often made during face-to-face visits.

On the other hand, wise organizations also use direct mail and the telephone to reach out to a broad number of prospects to ask them to make a planned gift commitment.

One smart nonprofit organization that has successfully used direct mail to ask for legacy gifts is the Natural Resources Defense Council. They did two mailings involving a total of 50,000 pieces that generated $8.5 million in bequest commitments. You can see a sample of the mailing by clicking here.

A university in Texas targeted 7,000 alumni with a mail promotion for Charitable Gift Annuities, following up direct-mail-generated leads with phone calls that resulted in $730,000.

An orchestra in the Pacific Northwest implemented a coordinated mail/phone campaign involving 2,200 prospects in an effort that produced an estimated $2 million in bequest expectancies.

If your organization wants more planned gifts, you need to ask more people to give. While face-to-face asks will always be important, you can ask far more people by using direct mail and the phone as well, just like your organization does for the annual fund.

You can find more details about the examples I’ve cited, additional examples, and helpful tips in my award-winning book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing.

Do you ask supporters to enroll in a monthly-giving program?

In 1989, I predicted that virtually every charity would have a monthly-giving program within five years. Sadly, I could not have been more wrong. I shouldn’t have been, but I was. Now, more than a quarter-century later, shockingly few charities ask supporters to give monthly.

A great way to enhance your organization’s donor-retention rate while upgrading the amount of support from donors is to ask donors to give monthly.

Some of my friends and I believe so strongly in the power of monthly giving that we participated in this short, light-hearted video on the subject:

If you’re not asking your supporters to give monthly, you’re organization is missing a great opportunity. For powerful advice on how to run a monthly-giving program, checkout Harvey McKinnon’s book Hidden Gold, and Erica Waasdorp’s book Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant.

Do you ask donors to upgrade their support?

June 30, 2015

Free Webinar Will Help You Get Great Results

Fundraising can certainly be challenging. Have you ever wondered:

  • How can I raise more money at little or no extra cost?
  • Is my organization ready for a planned giving program?
  • What simple planned giving vehicles should I promote?
  • What is my organization’s Bequest giving potential?
  • Who are my best planned giving prospects?
  • Do I need to be an expert to do planned giving?
  • What motivates planned giving donors?
  • How should I ask for planned gifts?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of those questions, then I have the perfect free webinar for you.

FreeI’m presenting “Planned Giving: It’s Easier than You Think!” During my free webinar, hosted by Wild Woman Fundraising, you’ll get answers to all of the above questions and more. In short, you’ll learn how to easily launch and grow a successful planned giving program.

For many nonprofit professionals, planned giving sounds complicated, with its CRUTs, CRATs, CLUTs, and CLATs. Admittedly, gift planning can indeed be incredibly complex. However, as this free webinar will demonstrate, it does not have to be. Furthermore, a planned giving program can be enormously worthwhile for virtually any organization, even those with little or no budget for it.

For valuable tips to help you grow your planned giving results, register for my free webinar today, “Planned Giving: It’s Easier than You Think!” [July 17, 2015, 3:00-4:00 PM (EDT)]. To register, CLICK HERE.

As a webinar participant, you will receive a number of bonus handouts including:

June 26, 2015

Are You Wasting Time by Hunting Unicorns?

Go to any fundraising conference, and you’ll find unicorn hunters. You might even be one. You can see the unicorn hunters in seminar sessions about Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts (CRATs), Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs), and Charitable Remainder Uni-Trusts (CRUTs).

Unicorn hunters believe that Trusts are the cornerstone to a healthy planned giving program. Unicorn hunters scour the wealthiest portion of their donor files to find Trust prospects and then focus an enormous amount of time and energy trying to close big Trust gifts.

Unicorn by Rob Boudon via FlickrSome would-be unicorn hunters are overwhelmed by the hunt. They fear they have no prospects and/or they fear they have insufficient knowledge to pursue such gifts. So, they don’t implement any kind of planned giving effort.

Well, here’s your reality check, courtesy of Giving USA 2015: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2014.

As the chart below reveals, the number of Trusts is tiny compared to the number of Public Charities which stood at 963,234 in 2012 (not including religious congregations and organizations with less than $5,000 in revenue), according to the Urban Institute’s The Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2014.

Even if every single charity that received a Trust gift only received one, that would mean that less than 12 percent of charities would have received a Trust gift in 2012. In other words, the likelihood that a fundraiser will close a Trust gift is very small in any given year. Moreover, the odds have been getting smaller as the number of charities has grown while the number of Trusts has declined.

Of course, that’s not quite how it works in the real world. In the real world, large organizations with large donor files containing plenty of wealthy supporters are far more likely to close Trust gifts than smaller organizations with smaller donor lists. If you don’t work at a large, established organization, the chances that you’ll close a Trust gift this year are miniscule.

 Trust Chart - 2015

While the dollars associated with Trust gifts are certainly significant, the actual number of such gifts is small. By contrast, far more people name a charity in their will, make beneficiary designations, give appreciated securities or personal property, or donate from their IRAs.

Keeping your eyes open for Trust-gift opportunities can be beneficial. However, you’re much more likely to close other types of planned gifts. This means:

March 10, 2015

Want a FREE Book? How about 2 FREE Books?

From time to time, I come across truly special offers that I’m pleased to share with you.

Today, I want to give you the chance to get not one, but two, FREE books about planned giving written by Texas Tech University researcher Russell James, JD, PhD, CFP:

Visual Planned Giving: An Introduction to the Law & Taxation of Charitable Gift Planning

Visual Planned GivingThis textbook is written specifically for fundraisers or financial advisors seeking to expand their knowledge about charitable gift planning. This introductory book addresses all of the major topics in planned giving law and taxation and features over 1,000 full-color illustrations and images that guide you through complex concepts in a visual and intuitive way. Distilled from his years of teaching Charitable Gift Planning at the undergraduate and graduate levels, James makes this topic accessible and enjoyable for the busy professional.

Here are some of the things you’ll learn:

• The secret to understanding planned giving

• A super simple introduction to taxes

• How to document charitable gifts

• Valuing charitable gifts of property

• Special techniques for donating retirement assets, private foundations and donor advised funds

• And much more!

The paperback version of this book retails for $187.98. However, you can get the electronic version for FREE thanks to my friends at MarketSmart, just click here.

American Charitable Bequest Demographics

This book provides an extensive review of the changing nature of American charitable estate planning from 1992-2012 and includes over 50 charts and graphs. James presents information in a simple, visual fashion with each page containing a graph or chart, comments on the importance of the information, and details about the methodology behind the data. Much of the information presented comes from a long-running, nationally-representative, longitudinal survey including information about the final estate distributions from over 10,000 survey respondents who have died during the study.

• Major sections include:

• National demographic trends

• Trends in charitable plans among those aged 55+

• Examination of matured plans of deceased respondents

• Timing of charitable plan changes

• And much more!

The electronic version of this book retails for $9.99. However, thanks to James, you can get it for FREE when you subscribe to this blog site in the right-hand column. You’ll receive an email confirmation of your subscription that will contain a link to the book. (I recognize that your privacy is important, so I assure you that your email address will never be sold.)

Now that I’ve saved you a bundle of money, I’d like to suggest some books you can purchase that will inspire and help you achieve greater results. When you make your purchase, usually at a discount, at The Nonprofit Bookstore (powered by Amazon), a portion of every sale will be donated to charity.

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?


[Publisher’s Note: “Special Reports” are posted from time-to-time as a benefit for subscribers and frequent visitors to this blog. “Special Reports” are not widely promoted. To be notified of all new posts, including “Special Reports,” please take a moment to subscribe in the right-hand column.]

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:


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