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Take the Plunge into Planned Giving in 2021

2020 forced many nonprofits to think about establishing long-term sustainability. When the inevitable recession comes along and traditional fundraising must be put on pause, what programs do you have in place to fill the gaps? This is where a robust planned giving program can really come in handy.  Properly orchestrated, a planned giving program can provide wonderful benefits to your donors today and to your organization in the future.

If your organization is ready to take the plunge, here are five essentials to consider as you start the process.

  1. Make certain your Board and senior staff understand planned giving and are FULLY SUPPORTIVE.

The organization’s leadership will need to understand that planned gifts do not instantaneously materialize. They take time to be properly cultivated and may not be realized for quite some time. It is important leadership understand that planned gifts are what will help sustain the organization over the long run and can invest the resources required to make the program a success.

  1. Identify your target audience.

You must develop a cultivation list of those who are likely to be interested in planned giving – usually those who have a history with your organization and have been loyal donors for an extended period of time. Those to consider for your cultivation list should include:

  • Consistent donors. Giving for five+ years or those who have given $1,000 or more at any time
  • Current and former Board members
  • Current and former volunteers
  • Current and former staff

And when considering who to identify, remember the letters F-L-A-G:

  • Frequency
  • Longevity
  • Age
  • Gender (women tend to make more bequests….men make more planned gifts by way of trusts)
  1. Determine which Planned Giving vehicles you can most comfortably offer and manage.

Do not offer your constituents an opportunity you cannot manage or deliver. If you simply want to start by dipping your toe into the pool, encourage participation by way of a bequest. If you wish to take a more proactive approach, then consider the following:

  • Charitable Gift Annuity
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Life Insurance
  • Charitable Lead Trusts
  • Life Estate Contracts

If you decide to be more comprehensive in what you offer, enlist the support of professionals who can help you ensure that you are providing accurate information to your constituents (Attorneys, Estate Planners, CPAs, Real Estate Agents, Life Underwriters, etc.).

  1. Determine how you will promote Planned Giving.

In order for the program to be successful, your constituents need to know it exists! It could be as minor as placing the words “Have you considered leaving our organization in your will?” on the bottom of your organization’s letterhead with a number to call and discuss planned giving opportunities. Other vehicles to promote your program could include:

  • Online – make sure your online donation platform includes an option to participate in planned giving
  • Targeted Cultivation – visit personally with your targeted solicitation group and gauge their interest
  • Newsletters – include an article in your main newsletter (possibly with a testimonial from a donor)
  • Seminars – an opportunity to invite the professional community to participate
  1. Make certain to pay particular attention to internal management issues.

Consider the following:

  • Personnel: Assign a staff member(s) to identify, research, cultivate and solicit planned gifts. Budget: create a planned giving budget
  • Policies and procedures should be created to establish the types of planned gifts that are and are not acceptable, gift limitations, donor confidentiality, etc.
  • Buy-in from the finance department: developing a solid relationship with your finance department in an effort to ensure clarity of understanding on policies and procedures as well as communication and accounting for deferred gifts

We hope these tips and tricks encourage you to take the plunge into Planned Giving. Properly orchestrated, it will pay off for your organization for years to come.

For more information on how to make planned giving work for your organization, get in touch with us at or at 816.237.1999. We would love to tell you more about the Byrne Pelofsky Futures Program. 

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