Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

November 18, 2013

Get started in planned giving

Lyne and Kathryn Gamble

Special to Philanthropy Journal 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Philanthropy Journal will present Jan Doolin’s workshop, “How to Launch and Sustain a Successful Planning Giving Program from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 on the NC State University campus in Raleigh. For details and registration information, click here. 

We find some of the reasons that nonprofit organizations frequently give for not engaging in planned giving are:
  • •     We need to focus on annual gifts to make our operating budget.
  • •     We are in a campaign for a new building.
  • •     I don’t know anything about planned gifts.
The problem is when you are not engaged in planned giving, you have effectively limited your donors’ giving potential. What??? Now that we have your attention, let us repeat this important point.

When your organization is not engaged in planned giving, you have effectively limited your donors’ giving potential.

The reason for this is simple — people who are philanthropic give throughout their lives and will most often consider gifts when making their estate plans. Most of the planned gifts we have raised through the years come from people who have given consistently over time  — usually through annual giving. This means their largest gift may come through their estate. So how can you get started? We recommend two simple steps to begin.

First, start telling your donors that your organization is interested in being the beneficiary of planned gifts. Consider the following simple strategies:
  • •     Include some simple language on the gift form with your next annual appeal. You could offer two options for donors to select: “I/We have included Organization’s name in our will. I//We would like to know more about including Organization’s name in our will. You will get some responses!
  • •     Call the people who respond. Also, consider contacting some of your most loyal and consistent donors, and make an appointment to meet with them and ask if they have considered including your organization in their estate plan. Then just listen. You will learn a great deal about them — their values, family, other charities they support — and you might just get a commitment!
Second, educate yourself about planned giving. You don’t have to be an expert, but you need to know some basics. From experience, we can tell you that most, if not all, estate gifts you will deal with will be bequests. This means that you can get started without being an expert on the alphabet soup of planned gift instruments (CRUT, CRAT, NIMCRUT, CGA, etc.). However, you will feel more confident if you know something about the technical side of planned giving. Plan to attend a few seminars or workshops.

Take these two simple steps, and get started realizing the full potential of your donors’ philanthropy.

Gamble Squared, LLC is a fundraising consulting firm with a specialty in planned giving. For more information, please contact us at or 919-923-0983.

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