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Planned Giving Unmasked

“There are no shortcuts to planned giving.”

I cringed when I saw that.

That tweet only serves to perpetuate the myth that planned giving is a secret land unreachable to most fundraisers.

The truth?  85% of all planned gifts made in America today are plain old bequests that donors included in their will or estate plan.

They did so because remembering a cause dear to them in their will is simple.  They understand it.

So can you.

What have we established so far?  Two things.

If you focus on inviting your donors to remember your organization in their will you are on your way to capturing 85% of your planned gifts potential.

And two, we can point not only to whopper gifts recently received via gifts from wills, we can see that any organization has the potential to share in that philanthropy.

There are seven steps you can take, simple and effective steps, to invite your donors to include your organization in their will.  The first, as we wrote earlier, is to have that invitation on your letterhead.

Step 2: Make sure you know the language donors should use to include a bequest to you in their will.  Once you do, print it out and put it in your desk drawer.  You never know when a call will come.  When donors are at their attorney and need the language, they want it NOW.

Keep the language on your computer in a place where you can find it fast.

Then send the language electronically, and give a print copy, to everyone in your office who could possibly receive that phone call or email from the donor.

This is called “being prepared to be successful.”

Step 3: You need a printed piece.  Something you can mail, or give, to your donor about remembering your organization in their will.

The piece doesn’t need to be extravagant.  Four sides, color, with photos of the people your organization serves.  The language, of course!  The different ways a bequest can be made (more on that next time).  A photo and a story about donors who’ve planned a bequest to you and why they did it.  More about your organization, the good you do, and how bequests make that happen.

The idea is you want something that your donors can hold on to.

They will.

Step 4: You cannot neglect your website.  That night at 3AM, when your donor can’t sleep and is sitting at their computer, this is the moment of truth.  Is there a chance that donor might think of you?  Might they visit your website?

You have to be there for them!  Make it obvious, on your home page, where to click to learn about remembering your organization in the donor’s will.  The key is SIMPLE.  A page devoted to it.  Everything you include in your printed piece needs to be on your website.

On both the printed piece and on the website you should mention that your organization welcomes other planned gifts such as charitable trusts and to call you for more information.

Gifts of stock or other appreciated property should be included in the section on your website under Current Gifts.  Same thing with a gift from the Required Minimum Distribution from their IRA.

Donors think of those as Current Gifts.

Next time, Steps 5-7 in your snazzy and simple bequest marketing program.

Have a good day, my friends.

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