Do It Now and Never Stop

Planned Giving Marketing

By Ed Sluga, First published by Hilborn Charity eNews

In legacy—or planned—giving, your organization’s unique planned giving case for support can elevate your cause above your competitors while engaging donors who wish to create a gift as a legacy to the future. Remember, it’s the reason why donors will be drawn to give to you. They wish to make an impact and your charity can provide it.

However, it’s up to each organization to make their case known to their donors, to their stakeholders, and to the community. You can’t assume that your stakeholders know or understand your Why. Also, creating the case and then marketing it on an ongoing basis —through the main channels of communication (broad cast, mid-cast, and narrow cast)—works to establish legacy giving as a social norm in your stakeholder community.

What does that mean? Let me give an example. I had a discussion with the CEO of a well-known national charity around their planned giving case for support. During the process the CEO—who was new to the charity world—asked insightful questions. I could tell that planned giving was a new concept for them. When we were done, the CEO thanked me and told me that the conversation had inspired them to consider leaving a charitable gift in their will to a charity. They let me know that they would be putting their university in their will the next time they revised it. I paused for a moment and then suggested that they also include the charity that they were working at as well!

The important point is that the university the CEO was thinking of in that moment had taken some sort of initiative, and devoted time and resources, to make a legacy gift a social norm. The message was imbedded in the CEO’s mind. Now, before you suggest that all universities are focused on planned giving, let me tell you that is not the case. Some have, but most have not. So, how do we create the social norm of planned giving? Here are four areas to focus on:

1. Your broadcast market
Everyone that is in your community needs to understand that you are in the planned giving business to support your future mission that is outlined in your case. How? Use existing materials to get out your message. Do it now and never stop. Highlight donors and demonstrate impact. Most importantly, get your messaging, your materials and your website updated to be aligned with your case.

2. Your mid-cast market
Find your best donors through data analysis of your donor base. Find the highest propensity prospects (remember donors are your best prospects in this case) and begin to market to them with unique tactics and approaches that cultivate and solicit. Do it now and never stop. Remember, this is heart and head marketing so give them the why, the how and the benefit. Finally, each communication in this group is also a solicitation. Remember to ask!

3. Your narrow-cast market
The best marketing is face-to-face. Reaching out to speak to those that have expressed interest or are (through donor analysis) considered to be high propensity is still the single best way to move prospects and to close gifts. Too many organizations focus on collecting numbers in their interested pile, leaving them there to self-convert—or to rot. Don’t be that organization. Focus on more than pure marketing metrics.

You are part of a fundraising revenue unit. “Likes” and “re-posts” or “lead gen” stats aren’t enough. You need to take action to convert. Remember, these are the size of major gifts. What major gift professional could get away with accumulating hundreds—if not thousands—of leads related to a major gift, and then leave the donor to figure out on their own whether they will actually give your organization a gift? It is a career-limiting approach. You need to do the work.

Remember, the university that the CEO in my story referred to is fully engaged in narrow-casting. So is the bank and other financial institutions trying to sell your donor a donor advised fund. Be at the table or be left behind!

4. Your stewardship market

The word stewardship should be enough to make you realize this is an important market to engage with. Begin now and don’t stop. Stewardship is a nice word and is externally facing. The objective is pledge retention and pledge elevation.

The rule is that your stewardship group should have more interactions then any of the others. Again, in the major gift context, you have a series of pledges for thousands of dollars. Now, you need to ensure that the pledges are funded. Find small and personal ways to connect. If you have a large list of expectancies, you can still make it personal.

If “do it now and never stop” is a tough ask for your organization, PGgrowth can help! We have both done-for-you and do-it-yourself solutions available. Reach out to us and we’d be happy to discuss further.

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