Using Direct Response to Drive Planned Giving

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By Alicia M. Lifrak, CFRE

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end. Whether the cue for you is school starting, vacations ending or just getting back into a routine, we are reminded that fall and year-end is coming. As a fundraiser, we don’t need to remind you what year-end means for you and the nonprofit sector as a whole. With more than a third of your annual donations still likely to come, it’s time to buckle down and get intentional about every aspect of your fundraising goals — planned giving included. Here are a few areas of focus you should be considering through the remainder of 2021.

Remind Donors of Simple Planned Giving Options

Committing to planned giving inherently seems complicated. Change the conversation by highlighting some quick, easy opportunities for your supporters to participate. A great go-to to hone in on is the option for donors to list your organization as a beneficiary. Many forget that life insurance, retirement plans and bank accounts can be a great way to give back a portion — or even all if you’re lucky — of their funds to an organization they’re passionate about.

Don’t Skimp on Donor Relationship Storytelling

Naturally, your best planned giving prospects will always be your donors who have supported you the longest and most loyally. Use that to your advantage by encouraging those select givers to take the next step of including you in their planned giving strategy. Sending a highly personalized mailing that includes giving history, event participation and specific moments in time when individuals have made a distinct difference will ensure that your donors feel heard, seen and acknowledged. While there are tax benefits to be gained, donors are still most motivated by leaving a legacy to fund the mission(s) they most believe in.

Outline Tax Benefits

As we all know, there have been some changes in tax benefits over the past few years. Planned giving’s outlook for the future remains strong — don’t miss out on the chance to let your donors know what they’re getting from their generosity by making you a part of their legacy. Advantages, such as charitable deductions and the avoidance of capital gains taxes when donating appreciated assets, can really matter to the right people — just make sure you’re finding them.

Whether it’s a short and sweet social media campaign, a sincere stewardship piece, or even just a personal phone call or two — now is the time to find and encourage your planned giving prospects.

As we all know from the results of the most recent Giving USA report, giving through bequests is growing and expected to continue to grow in the years ahead. While direct response may not be the best methodology to make the ask, it is definitely an important communication tool that should not be ignored when building your planned gift initiatives. Both direct mail and email can be incredibly powerful communication tools for your constituents as your target audience for planned giving is also the target audience for direct response channels in general.
Another important tool that a number of nonprofits have utilized with great success is our Donor Insight Survey.

This lead generation tool, deployed through direct mail, is built on the adage that if you want someone’s opinion, ask them for their money but if you want their money, ask them for their opinion. We have assisted our clients to document tens of millions of dollars through planned gift vehicles and if you are not currently doing something like this, there is no better time to get started.

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