Use Testimonials to Ask for Planned Gifts
Testimonials put a very personal face on planned giving. They give your organization a way to tell an interesting story while clearly demonstrating that donors are willing to make a planned gift that perpetuates values that are important to them -- and to your other donors -- and that also will make a significant difference in the lives of the people your organization serves. Planned gifts are a great way for donors to leave a personal legacy, and they are simple to make. Using testimonials from donors that highlight these benefits of giving will inspire others to follow their lead. The advantage of using testimonials is that a donor is actually doing the ask.
To get donor testimonials, start by interviewing a donor who has included your institution in her estate plan. You want information about her values and feelings. Ask:
* How did you first become involved in [organization name]?
* Why did you become involved in [organization name]?
* Why do you think that the organization’s work is important?
* What do your hope your gift will accomplish?
* Why did you include the [organization service population] in your estate plan?
* How do you feel about your gift?
* Would you encourage others to include [organization name] in their estate plans?
Some other tips:
1) Be sure to tell donors that the story will include a message that encourages others to follow their example.
2) Always include a quote that actually asks for a gift. For example: “Please consider joining me! Make a gift to the [organization’s client description] in your will or trust! Your gift saves lives!”
3) Provide a response mechanism that gives your prospects an opportunity to get additional information on planned gifts or notify you that they have included the organization in their estate plan.
4) Write the copy yourself, as you know what your objectives are. Then ask the donor to approve a draft of the article before it’s printed. If possible, include a photo of the donor doing something mission related using a “people helping people theme.”
5) After the letter is printed, give the donor a supply; he’ll give copies to his friends and neighbors, further promoting your planned-gift program.
6) Include testimonials in newsletters, on your Web site and even in presentations at donor-recognition events. Testimonials also make great solicitation letters if you decide to do a planned-gift acquisition letter targeting other loyal donors.
Nina P. Berkheiser, CFRE, is president of Your Nonprofit Advisor Inc. She can be reached via www.yournonprofitadvisor.com.