Planned Giving: ‘How Old Are You and Did You Know You Could … ?’
Asking questions and educating prospects about ways to make gifts are the hallmark of our jobs as fundraisers. In this article, we will describe how to ask strategic questions to obtain key information; how to introduce the topics of bequests, charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts; how to encourage membership in a heritage society; and how to make a combined planned- and major-gift solicitation to a prospect.
Along the way, we will describe some common cues and clues for various types of planned gifts, providing information that’s useful for both veteran and novice gift-planning officers.
Throughout this discussion, we assume that we are talking with prospects who have been screened using the tools available to us, and whom we believe could make future gifts — both outright and deferred — to benefit our organizations.
We are beginning the process of assessment and cultivation. Our objective is to ask open-ended and leading questions in an effort to determine whether a prospect has affinity for our organization and the capacity to make a gift. Along the way, we will begin to cultivate that affinity.
To truly excel at cultivating prospects for planned gifts, we need to be able to listen and respond to cues and clues that our prospects share. We will identify cues to listen for and prepare you to respond appropriately when those clues are raised by educating your prospects about gift options that will fulfill their financial needs and their philanthropic objectives.
10 key questions for donors and prospects
1. How old are you?
Depending on the type of organization for which you work, you may have extensive records on your constituents: home and business addresses, phone numbers, work history, family, board memberships and gift history. One thing you may lack, however, is a prospect’s date of birth. This key piece of information can help you in many ways.