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Average Age of Donor’s First Planned Gift

Q: Do you have data on the average age (or age range) of a donor when he makes his first planned gift commitment (bequest intention, CGA, trust, etc.)?

A: The most common form of a planned gift is a bequest, and it is also typically the first gift that planned giving donors make.

It is generally recognized that individuals write their first wills in their early 40s. At this time they have children — so they write a will to ensure that someone will be there to care for their children should something go wrong. The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University conducted a 2007 survey on bequest giving and found that “people with a charity named in their will tended to be between 40 and 50 years of age.” They also found that those most likely to consider a charitable bequest commitment were between the ages of 40 and 60 (www.plannedgiving.com/brian21).

In our recently published book, The Philanthropic Planning Companion, Robert Wahlers and I note that different generational cohorts behave differently. The research we reviewed, including the information from the study noted above, indicated that charities need to establish relationships with donors earlier than they think. In fact, once a donor reaches age 60, if the donor does not have a good connection with the charity, it is unlikely the donor will even consider a planned gift.

But for those donors who feel closely connected, particularly those who are in the Depression, World War II and Post-War generational cohorts, there is no better time than today to ask them for a planned gift.

Besides writing this column and consulting for PlannedGiving.com, Brian Sagrestano is President and CEO of Gift Planning Development, LLC, and a principal in Constellation Advancement, LLC. He co-authored The Philanthropic Planning Companion, which has everything a gift planning officer needs to know.

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