Planned Giving Primer
While the organization benefits from the donation, the donor also benefits by receiving revenue for the remainder of her life. The older the donor, the higher her return rate. So a 90-year-old donor will receive a much higher return rate than a 70-year-old donor.
How to do it
Many organizations work through consultants who specialize in planned giving to develop their campaigns and related materials. The consultants provide readily available knowledge and marketing materials that require little effort on the part of the nonprofit organization.
Other organizations, chiefly larger groups, rely on focus groups to develop their own materials. Focus groups usually aren’t very effective in gauging direct-marketing response. It’s normally cheaper and more effective to test direct-mail packages by simply mailing them to small test cores.
But you don’t have that advantage with planned-giving materials — it could be years, or even decades, before a “test” donor passes away and leaves your organization a gift. Only then would you be able to judge the effectiveness of your marketing materials. That’s why focus groups have proven to be a valuable tool in helping to develop effective planned-giving campaigns.
Correctly targeting potential planned-gift supporters is a tricky business, and you need to work closely with your consultant to develop the right mix of materials targeted to the right mix of recipients. Demographic factors such as age, gender, length of home ownership and the value of the primary residence often are important elements to examine.
Amazingly, the amount of a donor’s previous donations often is not a reliable indication of her ability and inclination to donate through planned giving. I’ve seen many instances in which donors who have given only $20 or $25 to a nonprofit organization during their lifetime leave hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to that organization at their death.
Jim Hussey is president of Adams Hussey & Associates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.