Tips for Bequest Prospecting With Direct Mail
In a session she co-presented on using direct response in planned-giving marketing at the DMA Nonprofit Federation 2006 New York Nonprofit Conference earlier this month, Amy Gill, director of gift-planning strategy and stewardship at The Nature Conservancy, spoke about how the organization has used direct mail to address the topic of bequests. For starters, Gill stressed that organizations should not be shy about discussing bequests with their members via direct mail because most people age 18 or older can and should have a will, it’s easy to add a charitable bequest to a will, and her organization has found that members find it appropriate for charities to talk about estate planning.
According to Gill, bequests require two actions:
1) the donor needs to work with a professional advisor to create a will or living trust; and
2) the donor can choose to tell the charity that he/she has made a charitable bequest in his or her will.
Direct mail can motivate individuals to do both of these things. The goals of bequest prospecting are to emphasize the importance of having an estate plan; inspire donors to work with you; start the conversation with them; and ultimately get them to a point where they request additional information.
To add relevancy and immediacy to direct-mail bequest prospecting, Gill recommended breaking prospects into age groups and targeting them differently according to their life stage. The Nature Conservancy broke its prospects into three age segments:
* 45 to 60 years old. For this age group, the organization focused on the general importance of creating a will.
* 61 to 74 years old. For this group, the focus is on updating a will due to the life change that happens after retirement, e.g., downsizing of one’s home, moving to another state, children grown.