I was at a board meeting this week, where everyone was looking around the table at each other wondering what we could do to raise more money for the organization. I couldn’t help but think about the webinar we are hosting here at Nonprofit Marketing Guide on Monday on starting a planned giving program — where you ask your supporters to include your cause in their retirement and estate plans, creating a much more stable, long-term source of revenue.

The down economy is actually a great time to start having these conversations, if you aren’t already. Right now, many donors are very wary of parting with cash, but they still believe in your cause – maybe more now than ever. Planned gifts are seen as the “painless” way to help. Put it this way, is Donna Donor more likely to write a check for $5,000 or to consider making your organization the beneficiary of the IRA that’s lost half of its value in the last year? This is the perfect time to think about ways to communicate with your loyal donors about planned gifts.

The key word is “loyal.”

That’s the beauty of doing some planned giving marketing right now. You don’t have to reach everyone, just your most loyal (and usually friendliest!) supporters. We know that most loyal donors don’t make a planned gift simply because they are never asked. Another benefit is that anyone, regardless of income level, can make a planned gift. Wealth and demographics alone are not the best predictors of a planned gift. Loyalty to your cause and your organization are. For example,over 40% of bequests are made by people 55 and younger.

Within the next 15 years, over $6 trillion dollars will be passed from one generation to the next. If you leave planned giving out of your fundraising communications, you will be leaving gifts on the table – or forfeiting them to another charity. And continuing to have those same board meetings month after month, year after year, where everyone wonders who is going to come up with the next idea to raise a few thousand dollars. Get a planned giving program rolling now and, in the long-run, it’s likely to produce some of the largest contributions your organization will ever receive.

If your interest is piqued, join Claire Meyerhoff and me as we get some great tips from Viken Mikaelian, one of the brightest names in the Planned Giving universe on how even small nonprofits can start a planned giving program.  Viken is the brains behind the hugely successful VirtualGiving.com and PlannedGiving.com and has helped create planned gift marketing programs for many national charities. Viken will share his steps to take to identify “loyal” donors and to reach them with your planned giving opportunities. You might be surprised how willing your donors are to talk about significant contributions that don’t require writing a check today.

Published On: March 18, 2009|Categories: Fundraising, Nonprofit Communications|

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