How to Write and Design an Effective Planned Giving Ad

Anatomy Of A Planned Giving Display Ad

Any fundraiser can raise more and larger gifts by using planned giving display ads in all their outreach, because they get the point across to your donors without thought.

I live, eat and breathe planned giving marketing. I also live, eat and breathe copywriting. And it’s all about your brand (mission) and getting your message across to your donors; and not getting the message across to your peers about the generation skipping tax.

Anatomy of a Gift Planning Ad

We devise planned giving ads for a living. Some are “safe,” some humorous, some conservative, and a few edgy. I’ve seen the edgy ads get most of the attention, but since my audience here likes to play it safe, this example is based on the “safe.” Regardless, the principles are the same across the board.

First things first. The headline. A headline is the “ad for the ad.” It can destroy it or increase response rates by 5. (We provide 6 to 10 compelling choices to clients, from conservative to traditional to humorous to emotional. We recommend; clients choose.)

Quality photo. A well-known representative of your organization, or an image that represents your cause well. Children and pets do a miraculous job. So does a well-known professor or board member. Avoid moribund photos.

Subheads. Critical to drawing attention.

Donor-centric language. Be subtle and “sneak” it in. Makes donors part of your mission and encourages bigger gifts.

Let them “smell it.” Showing the benefit to the donor “sells the sizzle, not the steak.” (“Imagine the sweetness in every bite of this crisp, organically grown apple” vs. “buy this apple because it’s red and round.”)

Power words. See the sample (underlined) words below and think about how they trigger emotions that drive donor decisions.

A compelling headline and photo at the top draws the reader in. Donor-centric language shows the donor how they’re helping. Power words trigger emotions that help guide them along their donor journey. This type of branding establishes trust and credibility. I regularly see top-tier institutions miss this simple mark. That’s because they do not have the time (or expertise) to devote to the critical and strategic. That’s why we’re here.

[Get a crisp PDF of this image here.]

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