10 Things You Might Not Know about Planned Giving


Guest Post by Michael Rosen

Planned Giving programs come in various degrees of sophistication and scope depending on organization type, donor population, organization budget, and other factors. There are infinite varieties of such programs, which means that virtually any nonprofit can (and should) have a planned giving effort of some sort. T

he following list of 10 factoids about Planned Giving — drawn from my book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing — provides some valuable insights:

#1 – Planned Giving does not necessarily have to be difficult. For example, you do not need to be a gift planning expert to seek the following five types of simple, common gifts:

  • Gifts in a Will (Bequests)
  • Beneficiary Designations (involving all or part of life insurance, IRA, etc.)
  • Gifts from an IRA
  • Gifts from a Donor-Advised Fund
  • Gifts of Appreciated Stock

#2 – Planned Giving does not hurt Annual Giving efforts. The average donors who include charitable gifts in their estate plans actually increase their annual giving significantly.

#3 – Only 37% of Americans over age 30 have some familiarity with the term “planned giving.” So, instead of talking with donors about planned giving, talk with them about what they’d like to accomplish with their philanthropy, then show them how they can do that by talking specifically about the above giving methods, or others, as appropriate.

#4 – You should not have a button on your website that says “Planned Giving.” Instead, the button should say “Other Ways to Give.” You’ll get significantly more click-throughs.

#5 – Do not ask for a “bequest gift.” Instead, significantly increase your chance of getting support by asking for a “gift in your will.” Keep your language simple and understandable.

#6 – Monthly donors are six times more likely to leave a charitable gift in their will than those who donate once per year. So, be sure to include monthly donors in your planned giving communications and appeals.

#7 – Those who volunteer and donate money are more than twice as likely to make a charitable estate gift as those who do only one or the other. Those who just volunteer or just donate are equally likely to make an estate gift. So, be sure to ask your volunteers to make a planned gift such as including your organization in their will.

#8 – Wealth is not held in cash. Only one percent of financial assets are held in cash! Wealth is held in assets (e.g., stocks, personal property, real estate, retirement accounts, life insurance, etc.). So, if you want larger donations, you need to talk with loyal supporters about making a planned gift from non-cash assets.

#9 – Planned giving allows donors to make larger contributions than they otherwise could through cash alone. For example, those with estates valued at $100,000-$499,999 make charitable estate gifts valued at 1.89 times their total annual giving. Those with estates valued at $500,000-$999,999 make charitable estate gifts valued at 3.73 times their total annual giving. For a contribution larger than a donor’s annual giving, ask for a planned gift.

#10 – Those without children are far more likely to make a planned gift. The presence or lack of children is the greatest indicator of whether or not someone will include a charitable gift in their will. When prioritizing prospects, recognize that your childless loyal supporters will be the most likely to include your organization in their estate plans.

Every year, realized bequest giving alone accounts for seven to nine percent of overall philanthropy, according to Giving USA. What percentage of the money your organization raises comes from bequests? If it’s more than nine percent, congratulations! Keep up of the good work. If it’s less than seven percent, you have a great opportunity for growing your fundraising results.

Whether simple or complex, a planned giving program can help your organization achieve greater fundraising results and enhanced mission fulfillment.

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About the Author

Michael J. Rosen, President of ML Innovations, Inc., is the author of the bestseller and award-winning book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. He is also the publisher of the top-rated blog Michael Rosen Says… Michael can be reached at mrosen [at] mlinnovations.com.

Photo Credit: UC Davis College of Engineering