Planned Giving: An Important Element of Your Fundraising Program
When I started my nonprofit career at the University of Louisville, I played a variety of roles, including planned giving director. When you are a 22-year-old who is new to the field, one of the last roles you should be in is planned giving director.
I learned this position through trial, error and mentoring. One thing I quickly realized in my director of development role, which included the planned giving title, was that I needed a total development program consisting of annual gifts, major gifts and planned gifts. Each one of these programs are critical to the success of the organization for assorted reasons. One question that I am asked all of the time is, “How do you develop a planned giving program?”
Planned giving is any donation other than an immediate cash gift, according to the fifth edition of “Achieving Excellence in Fundraising.” It helps achieve donors’ philanthropic priorities and can combine current, future, estate and asset gifts. They usually start with bequest gifts, which equaled $46 billion in 2021, according to Giving USA. Planned gifts can be complicated and involve strategies and cultivation over time.
To achieve success with this type of program, you must understand how planned giving works, as planned gifts help secure the future of an organization. Note the greatest transfer of wealth is approaching, with the baby boomer generation expected to pass on an estimated $68 trillion in the next 25 years, so be sure to allocate proper responsibility, time, and resources to your planned giving program.
Your first prospects should be your board members, employees, and volunteers. Survey your supporters to determine who has already made bequests or could possibly be interested in hearing more about your organization’s planned giving program.
Set goals for your planned giving program that include qualitative and quantitative goals. Brand your planned giving program as a legacy society for prospective donors, establish a marketing plan to promote this type of giving, and, of course, acknowledge, thank and steward planned giving donors.
To start, offer bequests, appreciated securities, gifts of life insurance, gifts of retirement plans and IRA rollovers. Build an advisory committee made up of external but experienced professionals, such as business executives, financial advisers, attorneys, and board members that have planned giving experience with nonprofits. Additionally, establish a series of planned giving seminars and network with other nonprofits to study best-of-class programs.
A solid planned giving program allows your nonprofit to build lifelong relationships with your donors, but organizational leadership must fully support all planned giving efforts. Look within your own nonprofit database for initial prospects. These are loyal donors, ambassadors, people affected by your mission and individuals of a certain age or wealth. Create a planned giving brochure and remember that 70% of planned giving donors made their gifts because they were asked. Consider establishing restricted endowment funds to help a donor maximize their legacy. Use your planned giving donors as testimonials to recruit new donors. Program building will take time and will achieve meaningful results.
Here is a 10-step plan, according to Planned Legacy, to build a successful planned giving program.
- Obtain a commitment from the board of directors.
- Create a professional advisory committee.
- Engage a professional planned gifts officer or a development professional to oversee the program.
- Create a planned giving case statement.
- Produce appropriate policies and guidelines.
- Establish a system for creating and maintaining administrative procedures.
- Produce a first-year budget.
- Prepare a business plan.
- Initiate a donor recognition and stewardship program.
- Manage the ongoing program.
Always remember that planned giving is an important part of your fundraising program. Your largest gifts, over time, will typically come from this fundraising method. In order to seek assets from planned giving donors, provide them with a variety of planned giving options, beginning with bequests. Never forget that these donors will typically be your most resolute, interested, and engaged individuals in the life of your nonprofit. Treat these donors with special care and attention!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.