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Planned Giving Marketing

  • Who's Your Tom Bond?

    You’d never guess by looking at Thomas Chandler Cruikshank Bond, III, that he battled drug addiction for two decades, that he was jailed half a dozen times, or that he spent four years living in abandoned houses in East Baltimore. In fact, even if you had met him during most of those dark years, you never would have guessed what was really going on under his façade. He had a good job with an expense account, wore a suit and tie and drove a nice car. But, he says, “inside I was a wreck, miserable.” By 2002, Tom had been homeless or jailed for the past four years. He was injecting heroine and cocaine and had wasted away to 150 pounds. “I really thought I’d end up dying in the projects of Baltimore,” he says. Then, during yet another stint in jail, Tom heard (for the third time) about the Helping Up Mission, an organization that helps men break the grip of homelessness, poverty, addiction and mental illness. This time, Tom was finally ready to seek help. He entered the mission, and after graduating from their one-year spiritual recovery program, he was hired on staff. He continued moving around to different positions within the organization, and now he is Director of Programs and Services and oversees a team of 40 staff and eight programs serving 500 men. tombond What a difference a year can make Tom Bond is a face and a story to a problem. He breaks the stereotype of the greasy-haired bum on the street. “The picture of homelessness and addiction that most people have isn’t accurate. The larger picture is the kid that breaks his leg and gets hooked on oxycodone and within a year or two goes to heroine. It’s a gigantic, terrible mess.” So Tom tells his story over and over and over. In his role at Helping Up Mission, he often gives tours to donors and foundation representatives. “Invariably my story pops out during the conversation. They’ll look at me in my suit and they’ll say ‘No way man. No way were you homeless.’” So who’s your organization’s Tom Bond? Who has a story that will compel your donors to give generously? Who can speak with emotion to represent the reality of what you are trying to accomplish? The story doesn’t have to be dramatic with drugs and jail time. It just needs to make people feel something— compassion, anger, excitement, or even guilt. If you’re a university, maybe your storyteller is a graduate doing breakthrough technology research. If you’re a Food Bank, perhaps it’s the blue-collar family who swears they would have starved that one tough year if not for your assistance. If you’re an elderly care facility, maybe it’s the 89-year old woman living with dignity and comfort and playing poker with her girlfriends on Thursday afternoons. But please don’t talk generically about all the residents; talk about this one. Tell her story. Here’s a quick mental marketing exercise to do. Envision all of your marketing materials, all your website copy, all the verbiage you use when talking to prospects, every PowerPoint presentation you’ve ever done. Imagine it all typed out on a multi-page document. Now imagine you have a bright orange highlighter in your hand. Go through all those words, highlighting only the ones that tell a story or convey real emotion. Most non-profits would see a lot of black and white staring back at them. Now, go find your Tom Bond. Tell stories. Make people feel.

  • No One Googles Unitrust in the Morning

    Who are they? What do they care about? What are their hopes, fears, dreams? What are their deepest desires?

    With the answers to these questions, you can show prospects how planned gifts fulfill dreams. You will also be showing empathy.

    Find out who inspires your prospects. That will soon tell you what is most important to them.

    Continue reading

  • "But My Prospects Are Different"

    I hear this all the time: “My prospects are sophisticated and they have to be treated differently.” My answer is they are human and are no different than any other being.

    If you feel your prospects are “really different,” chances are you’re hanging out with a few sophisticated (and detail-
oriented) donors and making assumptions about the rest. My hunch is that you are alienating a majority with financial advice and high-brow messaging. Continue reading

  • Bequests are out. Beneficiary designations are in.

    Have you educated your prospects recently?

    Considering more and more Americans are not drafting a will, beneficiary designations are a great way to secure legacy gifts efficiently and inexpensively.

    Unfortunately, just as most Americans do not know the term “Bequest,” many also do not know what a “Beneficiary Designation” is.

    Continue reading

  • Three Things I Learned from My Dad...

    By David Kottler J.D., C.A.P.


    My father was famous for his sayings. He constantly dolled out tidbits of wisdom that he had gleaned from reading and studying, from his ancestors, and mostly from his own experience. In fact, one of his favorite sayings was about experience:

    Continue reading

  • Yes. There IS Money Out There.

    Shriners Erie Receives Largest Donation in Facility History

    Shriners Hospitals for Children - Erie Ambulatory Surgery Center and Specialty Care Center has announced the receipt of a bequest totaling $14,750,000 to be shared equally between the Erie and Cincinnati Shriners facilities. Continue reading

  • Charitable IRA Rollover – Good News So Far!

    The House Ways & Means Committee has just approved legislation that would provide a retroactive and permanent extension of the “Charitable IRA Rollover” legislation that expired at the end of 2013.

    Continue reading

  • Endowed Urinals

    By Viken Mikaelian

    I love my alma mater, University of Pennsylvania – and not only because they are very good at raising money! I recall the great times I had there, and some of the not so great ultra-competitive academic experiences. I even have them in my will (I think I have to let them know). Continue reading

  • Air Conditioning and Planned Giving: A Hot Marketing Concept

    By Viken Mikaelian

    So there we were, cruising down I-95 in Fort Lauderdale racing to our next appointment. My colleague, Keith London, who represents PlannedGiving.com in the Sunshine State, pointed out two striking billboards. Continue reading

  • Social Media (Is it right for you?)

    By Viken Mikaelian

    God's marketing gift to the planned giving industry or a time-sucking excuse to avoid real work?

    Here's the thing. Only a handful of non - profits succeed in marketing with social media because they can't afford the time and effort to do it right.

    What do you mean by doing it right? Continue reading

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