Regardless of the size of your non-profit, you can make planned gifts a part of your culture. Feature planned gift opportunities throughout your development program from your website to your collateral materials. What are some approaches?

1) Use stories.

Planned giving can be intimidating and confusing, so use testimonials from current planned gift donors. Share real life examples. Include photos and tell stories about your donors and the benefits of the gifts they created.

2) Utilize your board.

If you don’t have any planned gift donors, recruit your board members to make a planned gift, then promote each one.

3) Create collateral material.

Include a simple planned gift brochure in your gift acknowledgement letters. Focus on a different type of planned gift each year.  Make the brochures unique to your constituency and organization.

4) Spread the word.

Educate your constituency on an ongoing basis. In all your materials include basic “how to’s” on the mechanics of simple planned gifts vehicles such as including bequests in wills. Have a postage paid return envelope or link back to your website so it’s convenient and easy for a prospect to contact you with questions or for more details.  Include an article – or even a paragraph or checklist – on planned gifts in every publication, particularly those that include your donor listing.  These can be written by development staff or planned gift volunteers affiliated with your organization. Keep the copy simple and practical.

5) Find a professional.

Partner with your local estate planning professional to present estate planning seminars to your constituency.

If your non-profit is not large enough to support this effort, consider partnering with another local charity. The initial goal is simply educating prospective donors about planned gifts, and the visibility will benefit everyone. Cultivate planned gift professionals as invitees, participants and sponsors of your special events. Keep your non-profit continually visible as they are often in the position of offering clients suggestions about specific charities.  Offer a Heritage Circle/Legacy Society recognition mechanism for your planned gift donors, then publicize and recognize them consistently.

Questions about planned or estate giving? Ask the experts!