The $30 Trillion ‘Great Wealth Transfer’—Some Planned Giving Tools to Help Nonprofits Benefit
Over the next 10 to 20 years, planned giving will become an increasingly important fundraising tool for nonprofits. Investing in planned giving or estate planning programs now can help ensure that a nonprofit will thrive far into the future. Why? Because we’re all about to be part of the “Great Wealth Transfer.”
What Is the Great Wealth Transfer?
The New York Post recently reported that Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are the richest generation in history. Controlling at least 70 percent of all disposable income, Baby Boomers are aging and preparing to transfer an estimated $30 trillion through their wills and estate plans in the next few decades. This money will be distributed among their children, grandchildren and their charities of choice. Now, more than ever, nonprofits must develop robust bequest or planned giving initiatives to position themselves to receive these assets from loyal and new donors.
How Do Planned Gifts Fit In?
Planned giving offers loyal donors the opportunity to make a long-lasting impact and leave a legacy with an organization near and dear to their hearts. As aging Baby Boomers begin to establish wills and estate plans, nonprofits have an unprecedented opportunity to develop and implement strong planned giving programs. According to the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, “… for us to gain the fullest benefit of the growth in wealth and philanthropy,” brought with the great wealth transfer, “nonprofit leaders must develop and sharpen their fundraising skills to gain the passionate support of sustaining donors.”
However, fundraisers face several challenges when it comes to planned giving. It can be uncomfortable to talk about with donors. How does one delicately approach a discussion about the end of someone’s life, which may not happen for many years? In addition, these planned gifts can be difficult to track. Organizations are often not informed of a gift in advance, so they cannot accurately record a future bequest.
A number of tools and technologies are available to help nonprofits to grapple with some of these challenges. We review several of them below.
FreeWill is an artfully-designed, free-to-use estate planning/last will and testament website that has a mission of raising $100 billion for high-impact nonprofits by making planned giving easier. Patrick Schmitt, who co-founded FreeWill at Stanford University, told us, “The idea is that planned giving can transform an organization—so let’s stop making it so incredibly difficult for most donors to take part.”
As an individual goes through the steps on FreeWill’s website to create their will, they are given the option to donate either a percentage or a specific sum to a nonprofit of their choice. If they don’t have a chosen charity, FreeWill offers suggestions and recommends its nonprofit partners. The individual is also able to choose to notify the nonprofit of their choice now. This is a huge benefit for planned gift officers and helps take the guessing game out of bequests. FreeWill also eliminates the need to have an awkward conversation with a prospective donor. Instead, the donor is able to come to this important and personal decision on his or her own.
Since FreeWill’s launch in 2016, the company has helped its users commit a total of $149.4 million to charity. While most high net worth individuals opt to use their own lawyer for estate-planning, FreeWill provides its free services as an option for anyone to use—the tools let people with simple estates create a fully-valid, legal will, and guides those with more complex estates through documenting their wishes and finding a nearby lawyer to finalize their plans.
For an annual subscription fee based on the size of your organization, one can become a recommended partner. Partnering with FreeWill is a way to reach people who might otherwise not be on the radar for individual cultivation and ensure that the organization is automatically notified when a bequest is made (assuming the donor selects this option).
PlannedGiving.com is a website that offers fundraisers several services to enhance their planned giving programs. Whether a nonprofit already has a formal planned giving program or is just getting started, PlannedGiving.com can help develop a planned giving website to present to donors, as well as direct mail services and planned giving marketing materials, such as brochures and custom ads. They also provide training and learning opportunities such as Q&A’s and webinars.
For nonprofits in the beginning stages of developing a planned giving program, a particularly useful resource is the “12-Month Planned Giving Marketing Plan.” Nonprofits that partner with PlannedGiving.com to develop their marketing plan start with a meeting to assess their current status. This leads to a marketing assessment report, recommendations for short and long-term planning, and assistance/evaluations in each step of developing the plan. PlannedGiving.com is a great place to start learning about how to develop a robust marketing plan for planned giving.
Crescendo Interactive is the market leader for planned gifts websites, software and other cloud-based fundraising applications for major and planned gifts. The company's signature marketing package, GiftLegacy, includes a wide variety of marketing solutions featuring web, email, social media and print solutions to increase a nonprofit's planned and major gifts.
Crescendo Interactive places a heavy emphasis on developing a strong online presence as it regards this as crucial in planned gift marketing. GiftLegacy websites include motivating donor stories, an online wills planner, and personal gift illustrations. These features make it easy for donors to see what impact they can have with a planned gift. The website also takes donors through each step to make their bequest.
Crescendo Interactive also offers a service called GiftAnnuities 1.2.3, which helps charitable organizations properly comply with state requirements as they manage and administer their gift annuities. This service includes the integration of Crescendo Interactive's own unique Gift Annuity Administration Software (Crescendo Admin) into a nonprofit's planned giving program.
Technologies and services such as FreeWill, PlannedGiving.com and Crescendo Interactive can be of enormous help to nonprofits as they develop planned giving programs and reach new donors. We’re about to be part of the biggest opportunity for philanthropy in history!
Devon McCann is a senior at the College of William & Mary. She will graduate with a B.A. in sociology with a minor in marketing. She has interned with Orr Group for two summers and is pursuing a career in fundraising.