Focus On: Planned Giving: Helping Donors to Look Ahead
4. Find a direct-marketing firm with experience promoting planned giving.
5. Decrease or eliminate appeal letters and avoid attempts to upgrade older donors. Instead, focus on sending them informational pieces about the agency and, when possible, information relating to the organization’s founders, its history and impact, and any positive feedback from reputable ratings sources such as Money and Forbes magazines, the Better Business Bureau, Guidestar and MinistryWatch, etc. We developed Legacy newsletters and published memoirs or books by the founders for this purpose.
6. Let the older donors tell their own stories by highlighting their accomplishments, ties to the founder or the organization, and how they’ve influenced it in different ways over the years.
7. Assign one staff person to be responsible for overseeing the relationship-building process among the top older donors, especially those who have the organization in their wills, have annuities or have set up trusts that include the agency.
8. Once a donor has the organization in his or her will, identify other estate-planning needs and opportunities through direct marketing and personal contact, and work with the donor’s financial planners and lawyers to develop deferred gifts. Donors should be motivated to make their “once in a lifetime gift” while they’re still around to enjoy its impact.
9. Establish a donor-recognition program that includes longevity and cumulative giving as the focus, and then provide simple incentives that relate to the founder or the organization’s beginnings.
Indicators to monitor and evaluate this process should include the level and type of personal contact, growth in the number of donors who place an organization in their will, the number of annuities and trusts set up by older donors, and the amount of cash generated by accelerating existing planned gifts. Sometimes when a donor passes on, it could take years for his estate to be processed and a check to be sent to a charity — unless someone is monitoring these gifts.