Fundraising 101: 10 Things You Need to Know About Planned Giving
Face it, no one likes to talk about death — especially not his or her own. And to talk about planned giving, you have to acknowledge the fact that a "planned" gift is one that will be given to a charity after the donor has shuffled off his or her mortal coil. It takes a very specific approach — and personality type — to do it well.
That said, there are some general things to acknowledge, or know, or master that can help propel your organization toward more successful planned-giving strategies.
1. Know yourself
Some people look to planned giving as a way to hide behind their computers and spend their time reading about esoteric plans and legal opinion. Planned giving is a part of development, which is a noble, though often misunderstood, profession. When someone at a party says to you, "I could never do what you do," she's referring to the dreaded task of "asking for money." If you can't ask for money, then you can't raise planned gifts.
I love the technical aspects of planned giving. I'll be leading workshops at this year's National Conference on Philanthropic Planning on the Non-Grantor Charitable Lead Annuity Trust. Actually, it's even worse than it sounds … it's about the math behind the instrument. But this presentation began as a means of getting in front of a few board members, then a few boards. The seed for the seminar was a gimmick to get people who love my charity to listen to a new idea about how to give us more money. The main qualification you need to promote planned gifts — as a director of planned giving, a development or major-gifts officer, or a volunteer — is the ability to tell people why they should support your charity.
2. Know that the simple
gifts are the best gifts
As you might guess, I like a flip charitable remainder unitrust with makeup as much as the next guy — more actually — but most of the planned-giving money that supports my charities comes from bequests in wills. Actually, most of it comes from simple bequests in simple wills. It's been like that in every place I've worked, and I have never heard a planned-giving professional claim that it's different at any other charity.