The Power of an Executive Champion: Proactive Planned Giving at Fighting Blindness Canada

A series of plants from smaller to larger, with the sun shining overhead.

In 2018, Doug Earle joined Fighting Blindness Canada as its new president and CEO. At the time, planned giving accounted for 3% of net funding. The organization’s fundraising program was primarily reactive, with efforts focused on traditional marketing such as mailings. From Doug’s time with the Arthritis Society, where planned giving made up 50% of net funding, he saw the planned giving potential at Fighting Blindness Canada.

Doug started by speaking to Fighting Blindness Canada staff and donors, as well as analyzing the organization’s database. Fighting Blindness Canada had a database of 136 active prospects, so to build the case for an investment in planned giving, Doug surveyed these prospects to find out their intentions and whether they had included Fighting Blindness Canada in their will. Many indicated interest in making a planned gift to Fighting Blindness Canada but had not yet formalized their intentions in their will. Doug also looked at donors who had previously given to Fighting Blindness Canada in their will. In one case, a donor had given smaller amounts over their lifetime ($260 in total over 15 years) but donated $83,000 in their will, which demonstrated the value of pursuing planned giving donations.

A gear with "An integrated planned giving program plan" at the centre. The teeth are labelled "Leadership commitment," "Budget," "Gift admin program," "Donor recognition," "Policies and procedures," "Metrics and reporting," "Marketing plan and tactics," and "Staffing plan."

To nurture this unique donor base and ensure the long-term success of the program, Doug knew a strong commitment would be needed from leadership. Leadership commitment is one of the most important areas of PGgrowth’s integrated planned giving program plan, which is represented by an interconnecting gear. However, it can be challenging to get support for this type of program, as it is a long-term investment, and you may not see results for many years. Doug was able to get the support of the board of the directors by demonstrating how he could raise the funds needed to invest in the program. Staff support followed after many conversations about planned giving and role-playing how planned gifts would work.

After getting approval and funding for the planned giving program, Fighting Blindness Canada brought PGgrowth on board. With help from PGgrowth, Fighting Blindness Canada developed a successful proactive planned giving program and has improved the presentation of its case for support. One of the most measurable results was an increase from 136 active planned giving prospects to more than 600, an increase of over 200%! In addition to growth in planned giving, Fighting Blindness Canada has also seen growth in annual giving due to increased donor appreciation and improved awareness of their cause.

To hear more from Doug about how Fighting Blindness Canada expanded its planned giving potential and donor base, listen to his interview with Ed Sluga on our recent podcast episode, “The Leadership Decision to Start a Planned Giving Program.”

Curious if your organization has planned giving potential that sits untapped? We’d love to help you see all the possibilities – contact us to start a conversation today.

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