Lost Focus on Planned Giving? Start With Direct Mail
Want in on a little-known secret? Wealthy people aren’t the primary group leaving bequests to charities. It’s the little old ladies faithfully writing checks each month. In fact, according to the Institute of Charitable Giving, 82 percent of bequests come from donors with a net worth of less than $3 million.
Planned giving refers to a charitable gift that an individual creates during his or her lifetime that will take effect after his or her passing. The gifts range from simple bequests (outright or residual) to charitable remainder trusts to gifts of life insurance and many other options. It’s a way for people to make a lasting gift to a cause that’s important to them. It can also provide tax benefits to the donor.
Per the National Philanthropic Trust, $28.13 billion (that’s right, billion) was given in bequests to charities in 2014. It’s worth the effort to maximize your planned giving marketing strategy. Direct mail is a good place to begin, as your donor file is your largest bucket of loyal, frequent givers. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Broaden. A common misconception is that you should only target older people on your file. However, realize they likely already have made their estate plans. Broaden the file to include individuals who have just experienced a major life event (divorce, death of a spouse, illness and even the birth of a child). These are the events that drive people to attorneys to examine their wills.
According to CNBC, we are about to experience the largest transfer of wealth in history—more than $30 trillion (that’s right, trillion) will be passed down from the Baby Boomers to their heirs over the next 30 years. Targeting a range of ages just makes sense. While it will take a while for Generations Jones and X to pay dividends they still should be reminded. Loyalty—not age—is the key factor.
Ask. In addition to standalone estate planning packets, put reminders in your newsletter, magazine, annual report, acknowledgements and regular donor mailings. It’s as simple as including a checkbox that offers additional information on estate planning on your donor forms or even asking if your donor already have included you in his or her will. Keep top of mind.
Inspire. By asking for a planned gift, you’re asking someone to think about his or her mortality. Combine that with the multiple—and often confusing—planned giving options and it can be tough to encourage this unique type of donation. Copy related to bequest giving should be inspiring, telling the donor of the organization’s mission, its long-term needs and the legacy his or her gift will leave years from now. Share stories about people who included your organization in their wills, the impact their bequests have made and how they helped you fulfill your mission. Make it easy for the donor. Give him or her simple language that can easily be added to his or her will.
Follow up. If donors have indicated that they have included your organization in their wills, be sure to thank them and send regular mailings reporting on program successes and plans for the future. You can’t set it and forget it; these donors need continual stewardship. Keep in mind that 70 to 90 percent of gifts are unknown to the charity until after the donors’ deaths.
A strong bequest program is an investment in the future. How do you optimize your planned giving marketing program?
Angela Struebing is president of CDR Fundraising Group, a multichannel agency focused on helping nonprofits maximize their online, direct mail, telemarketing and DRTV fundraising results. As president, Angela is responsible for overall agency management and strategic planning for national nonprofit clients to include The Wounded Warrior Project, Shriners’ Hospitals for Children, MoMA and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Angela is a frequent speaker at industry events and is recognized for her strategic expertise. She has also served as Education co-chair for the Bridge Conference.