Integrating Planned Giving into Your Fundraising Program

By Kathryn Dattomo, MNA, CFRE, Director of the ASGE Foundation, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE)

According to the AFG Benchmarking Survey, less than half of association foundations are using planned giving as a fundraising method.

A bequest or planned gift is typically the largest gift ever made by many donors. Your organization may not reap the rewards today, but if you don’t start integrating planned giving into your fundraising program now, you are potentially leaving a significant amount of money on the table that could benefit your organization’s mission enormously in the future.

With lean staff resources, and pressure to raise the money your organization needs today, it is easy to see why many of us are putting off planned giving.  Don’t buy into the myths. Implementing a planned giving program can be simple, and you don’t need to be an expert to get started.

If you have the support of your board or development committee, an established annual giving program, and loyal donor base, you have the foundation for a strong planned giving program.

Nine out of 10 planned gifts will be charitable bequests.  That is a good place to start. You may consider promoting other simple vehicles like gifts of securities, annuities, insurance or retirement plans. Document your gift acceptance policies and make sure to have them reviewed by your organization’s legal and financial advisors.

Always encourage donors to consult their own financial and legal advisors to plan a gift that meets their personal philanthropic and financial goals. Yes, you need a basic understanding the types of gifts your organization accepts, but your role is to engage donors in a dialogue about how a planned gift can allow them to make a significant and lasting contribution to the long-term success of your organization and its mission.

Here are a few simple action steps to integrate planned giving into your annual fundraising and marketing plans:

  • Query your database for best prospects; loyal supporters, donors of an age and leadership
  • Send a letter at least once a year; include a brochure and a bequest intent form
  • Engage your board or committee in promoting and soliciting for planned gifts
  • Offer gift planning information and resources on your website and in publications
  • Include checkboxes on all of your donation forms so donors may request information about gift planning, or indicate that they have included your organization in their estate plans
  • Designate a recognition society for legacy donors; publically and personally recognize their special commitment to the future of your organization
  • Publish testimonials from legacy donors

While you may not be able to hire dedicated staff, even small organizations may engage consultants and marketing firms that specialize in delivering customizable planned giving content, marketing plans, and collateral materials at a reasonable cost.

Visit AFG’s LinkedIn page to pose questions, to seek references for planned giving consultants, or to share examples of planned giving initiatives that have been successful in your organization. Keep it simple. Start now. Take the first steps to funding your mission tomorrow by integrating planned giving into your fundraising program today.

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