Focus On: Planned Giving: Helping Donors to Look Ahead
The key advantages of nurturing older donors are that it:
- Meets donors’ needs and interests, so they continue to give.
- Maximizes donors’ long-term value through their estate plans.
- Cuts back the cost of unnecessary mailings and materials that frustrate donors and give the impression the organization is wasting resources.
- Assures the organization maintains its ties to the initial values and key visionaries that made it what it is.
This approach is not for the “show me the money” fundraiser or organization, nor is it for the faint of heart. Since many older donors will live another 10 to 15 years before they actually produce their “once in a lifetime” gifts, the long-term financial value of these programs might not be realized for five to 10 years or more. In addition, 70 percent of donors reserve the right to change the designation of a charitable trust, and most don’t actually choose which charities they’ll include in their will until five years before they pass away.
An effective program that nurtures older donors helps integrate all components of an organization’s fundraising program — major gifts, planned giving and direct marketing — while focusing on the needs of the donor. From the beginning, the fundraiser needs to see this relationship as long term and established with an appreciation of the donors and their needs, and recognition of their special relationship and history with the organization.
Mark Walker is a senior representative at MAP International, a nonprofit Christian relief and development organization. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.