Planned Giving Programs FAQs - Part One

Why establish a planned giving program?
Planned giving programs focus on the long-term sustainment of your organization. Gifts made through planned giving are typically the largest gift a donor will make, and almost everyone has the ability to make a planned gift.

Even though most gifts are deferred for several years, they will provide substantial future support if you put the effort in now. Planned giving programs allow your most loyal supporters the ability to leave a legacy and support the future of your community and mission.

Who are our planned giving prospects?
When identifying your prospects, look to your loyal donors, not just your major donors. As mentioned, almost everyone has the ability to make a planned gift, so looking only at wealth indicators to identify prospects will hinder you from growing a strong, healthy program.

Instead, look at the supporters who have been loyal to your organization. Monthly and multi-year givers (even long-term volunteers) are a good pool of prospects. These are the supporters who are truly passionate about your mission and care about the future of your organization.

Along with falling into the wealth indicator trap, don't exclude potential prospects based on age. If you target only your older donors (above retirement age), your program won't reach its potential. Expand your program prospects to supporters 30+, and create different messages for different age groups.

For the younger prospects, focus first on educating them about planned giving and the different options. The average age of someone making their first planned gift is 40-50 years old, so educating and asking for planned gifts from supporters has to start before they hit retirement. Once your organization has been named in someone's estate or will, it is highly unlikely you will ever be removed.

What other planned gift options exist besides bequests/wills?
Hands down, bequests are the most common type of planned gift - about 85% of your gifts will be
bequests. But there are many other planned giving options:
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement funds
  • Stock
  • Gifts of real estate or personal property
  • Charitable gift annuitiies
Even though bequests can be very simple, it is important to educate your prospects and their professional advisors about other available options, so they can choose the vehicle that provides the best overall benefit to your organization and to them. Financial and emotional needs differ from donor to donor, so a bequest may not be the best fit for everyone.

Stay tuned for part two and the answers to starting a planned giving program, the best way to market your program and how long it will take for your planned giving program to generate revenue.


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