Four ways to improve your planned giving program


Strong planned giving is the hallmark of a high-functioning development program. While many organizations are able to meet their needs through annual fundraising and capital campaigns, planned giving is often the final element that allows a program to reach its full potential.

Deferred gifts offer peace of mind to both the donor and the organization. They allow the organization to escape the hand-to-mouth budgeting cycle and plan for the long term.

Is your planned giving program meeting its full potential? Here are four ways to boost the power of your deferred gifts:

Catalog the planned gifts that already exist: If you do nothing else this year, make an effort to learn of gifts that your donors have already arranged. Keep detailed records and keep in touch with those donors. To find out about new deferred gifts, make use of your bulletin or newsletter. Ask donors to alert you of such gifts so that you can include them in a legacy society and thank them properly. You could also survey your donors regarding their willingness to make such a gift. Cataloging your planned gifts has multiple benefits. It allows for better record keeping and improves your budgeting process. Additionally, learning about the specifics of certain gifts, particularly those involving real estate, can help your board make smart decisions and force you to sharpen your gift acceptance policies.

Let your donors know planned giving is a viable option for all donors – not just the wealthy:
Education is a vital step for improving a planned giving program. Many donors do not know that deferred gifts are even a possibility. In addition to asking for donors to self-report planned gifts, you can also use bulletins, newsletters or meetings to explain how planned giving works. Educating both your staff and donors can plant a seed that will bear fruit down the road.

Avoid misconceptions: Many misconceptions exist about wills and estate planning in general. When most people think of wills, we think of scenes from movies or television shows where the family gathers around to hear a formal reading of the will. That rarely happens. In fact, beneficiaries of an estate usually just get a check or simple notification. These common misconceptions can lead to others such as: that a donor can only provide for a charity at the expense of his or her family and friends. In fact, good planning can result in planned gifts that help both a charity and family or friends at a person’s death. It does not have to be an either/or situation.

Don’t forget about IRAs: Every person 70½ or older can give money directly to your organization from his or her IRA. Publicize this in short articles or announcements. There are some nice tax benefits associated with these gifts and many of your older parishioners or donors will be unaware that this is an option.

These four steps should help put your planned giving program on track for success.

If you have any questions regarding planned giving or the professional services provided by the Steier Group, I encourage you to contact me at any time. We’d love to help you reach your development goals.

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