Focus On: Planned Giving: Helping Donors to Look Ahead
We highlighted them in our Legacy newsletter as an example of the type of committed donor we wanted others to emulate. I provided an autographed copy of our founder’s memoirs and then talked to them about making a special gift for our organization’s 50th anniversary. During this process, John passed away, and I gave a eulogy at his memorial service.
Over the 10 previous years, John and Amy had been giving $50 to $90 a year, so they hadn’t shown up on anyone’s radar as a major donor. I asked Amy if she would consider a special anniversary gift, and when she expressed an interest I opened a dialogue with her financial planner — who was with National Christian Foundation — and brought in our CEO to request a special three-year, six-figure campaign gift. Amy provided the gift, and we’ve continued thanking her for her special commitment. Today, she continues to open doors for us, including with her daughter and son-in-law, allowing us to work with the next generation of givers.
Nurturing older donors
Following are some important steps an organization should take to identify and nurture relationships with its older donors.
1. Implement an age/wealth overlay to identify those donors who have been with the organization the longest, and focus on their cumulative giving.
2. Increase the level of personal contact with these donors by asking several staff to call or visit them whenever possible to learn about their history and ties to the founder and the organization.
3. Bring in a consultant to help determine the long-term value of older donors and to promote the program. My mentor had developed the program at World Neighbors with Robert Sharpe Sr. — a name synonymous with planned giving. His son, Robert Sharpe Jr., was instrumental in putting together the “older donor” program with me at several organizations where some staff and the direct-marketing people never heard of such a concept and initially were reluctant about it since it didn’t meet immediate cash needs. He helped the leadership appreciate that the average value of estate gifts, which ranged from $20,000 to $30,000, could generate millions of additional dollars each year.