From Cheryl, in Ohio: “Our Director is telling us to cut back our planned giving marketing program. My instinct is to tough it out. I have to justify my budget and could really use some support.”
Viken: Your instincts are right on target, Cheryl. Face it, even in better times planned giving always gets put on the back burner. Now, with budgets even tighter, many staffs being cut in half, and everyone assuming extra responsibilities, it’s even easier to use this as an excuse.
Let me ask you this: Do you cut back on food when times are tough? If that were the case, everyone would be slim and trim right about now. Marketing is the meat and potatoes (sorry, bad pun) of any fundraising operation, and cutting back, especially in a tight economy, is a recipe (sorry again) for problems down the road.
This avoidance of planned giving is rooted in an underlying reason no one wants to acknowledge. By nature, we are reactive, not proactive. We attend to the urgent, because it’s right in front of us and refuses to be ignored. Think: how many root canals could be avoided by regular, proactive preventative checkups at the dentist? And planned giving is proactive.
If you cut back on marketing, you have no business, and no planned gifts. Considering the average planned gift is 200 times the value of an individual’s largest major gift, cutting back on marketing them is an unwise choice. Now is the time to set a solid budget for marketing planned gifts; it will pay off.
There is more to marketing than money, too. You must also invest in nurturing and retaining prospects and donors. Our motto is,
“Treat your prospects like donors,
and your donors like friends.”
There is always someone who likes you and wants to give. (Even Simon Cowell winds up liking somebody!) So instead of thinking in terms of money, find out what makes your prospects tick, how they think, and how you can connect with them in a compelling and meaningful way. Yes, this requires effort. But the return on investment is crucial to your organization’s long-term success.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite “visuals”: Stop following the herd…they’re all searching for the same pasture, and it’s a tiny one. You’re smart, so look for a greener pasture…it’s bigger and filled with planned gifts!