Below are general FAQs on the subject of planned giving, and history and development of our firm. For specific FAQs on marketing, relationships, and gifting vehicle details and resources (IRA Rollover, Real Estate, Gift Annuities, Appreciated Securities, Lead Trusts, and so forth) visit this page.

Basic Company Information

How was PlannedGiving.Com founded?

After years of working in marketing and collateral material development for colleges and universities, Viken Mikaelian founded VirtualGiving.Com in 1999. He was the first to deliver planned giving websites to nonprofits. In 2008 he strategically purchased the domain PlannedGiving.Com (and eventually PlannedGiving.Org and GiftPlanning.Org) because it closely aligned with the core values of the business and provided our clients with “built-in” SEO. The company has continued to evolve to become more of a strategic partner. Here’s our mission statement.

Here’s a fun read that describes Viken’s journey into planned giving — and it’s from the heart.

What are your core services?

We are a strategic, research-based, results-driven planned giving marketing firm. We serve mostly large and medium institutional accounts. Our core offerings include:

• Strategic Planning and Marketing Audits
• Research and surveys
• Planned giving websites
• Direct mail marketing
• Electronic marketing tools and calculators

We want to become your strategic planned giving marketing partner.

Here is a list of our complete services.

Do you offer landing pages?

Yes, and our planned giving landing pages are beautiful. Many have videos and planned giving calculators. See our spec sheet. Call for a demo.

Do you offer planned giving consulting services?

Our focus is in strategic marketing, which is significantly different than planned giving consulting services. Planned giving consultants are usually financial advisors and attorneys who provide critical technical support. They structure gifts, set up systems, gift acceptance policies and procedures.

In short, they make the phone system. We make it ring.

Read our mission statement here.

Do you provide rush service?

We can accommodate your needs because of our ability to scale. Call 800-490-7090 for more information if you need speedy service.

How many people work at PlannedGiving.Com?

PlannedGiving.Com operates under a personnel strategy of quality over quantity.

As each client’s needs are unique, we have a core management team of 10 subject-matter experts who can scale up to the particular requirements of our clients. We operate in a lean environment to bring the greatest value to each project and avoid carrying needless and under-utilized operational overhead.

How many clients do you serve?

We serve 1,500 clients. Some utilize our full-scale services; others rely upon us to share our planned giving intellectual capital on a project-by-project basis.

Do you own the domain plannedgiving.com?

Yes, we do own plannedgiving.com. It was a necessary acquisition that we needed to make to maximize the realization of our mission.

We also own plannedgiving.org, plannedgiving.net, giftplanning.org, and giftplanning.net.

Hence, by owning these unique, category-specific domains, we provide a search-engine friendly (SEO) planned giving presence for our clients (i.e., yourname.plannedgiving.org).

What's Planned Giving in a Box™?

Planned Giving in a Box™ is the perfect tool for the small to medium-sized shop. Note that we’re saying “shop” and not the size of the nonprofit. It is also ideal for those who want a do-it-yourself approach.

The Box is for:

  • Beginning a new planned giving program.
  • Strengthening an existing program.
  • Putting the “house in order.” (formalizing a program)

We’re a small charity — can you help?

Yes. We have some quick tools to get you started on your own. When you grow, you can transition to our more premiere services and a-la-carte modules based upon your needs.

Two marketing tools you should immediately use:

Two educational tools you should use immediately:

General Planned Giving Questions

In a nutshell, what is planned giving?

Planned giving is also less commonly known as gift planning or legacy giving. It enables philanthropic individuals to make larger gifts to charitable organizations than they could make from ordinary income.

Some planned gifts provide life-long income to donor. Other gift plans use estate and tax planning to provide for charity and heirs in ways that maximize the gift and/or minimize its impact on the donor’s estate.

Thus, by definition, a planned gift is any major gift, made in lifetime or at death as part of a donor’s overall financial and/or estate planning. These include gifts of equity, life insurance, real estate, personal property, or cash.

Key insight: From a marketing standpoint “planned giving” eclipses “gift planning” at a 20 to 1 ratio on Google searches.

Why are planned gifts important?

There are numerous reasons planned giving is important — too many to list here. But through extensive research, experience, and our associations with nonprofits, we know that there are basically two primary motivators that drive the needs of planned gifts for institutions and donors, respectively:

  • Rational motivator
    Institutions need planned gifts to sustain and grow their core mission.
  • Emotional motivator
    Donors’ legacies are validated through planned gifts.

PlannedGiving.Com provides a proprietary deep dive into both the emotional and rational drivers for institutions and donors to maximize the impact of all your philanthropic efforts.

Another overlooked benefit of having a planned giving program is that it establishes legitimacy. Donors look at you through a different lens. Here are even more reasons planned giving is crucial for any nonprofit.

What are the three types of planned gifts?

We pioneered the following segmentation in 2000. We are flattered that this has become an industry standard:

  • Gifts anyone can make
  • Gifts that provide income
  • Gifts that protect assets

Here’s a deeper dive into the types of planned gifts.

Here are two educational tools you should use immediately:

When do most people plan their will?

Most wills are written between the ages of 40 and 55. By the time someone is 64, the chances of them leaving you in their estate plans falls to about 14%. See our estate planning toolkit to help educate your prospects.

Do we need to network with advisors?

This is a matter of opinion; however, advisors are becoming more involved in philanthropy. If you have a strong, established program, we advise you to continue the relationship. For more information regarding the value of advisory networks, read our research along with this article on understanding advisor approaches and client expectations by U.S. Trust.

Who are your best planned giving prospects?

Your most loyal donors are your best planned giving prospects.

Utilize a donor loyalty software or a firm that specializes in “pruning” your best prospects from your database. As a rule of thumb, you can also use a history of consistent giving of 6 out of the past 8 years to 8 out of the past 15.

How can we do Gift Annuities?

If you are a small charity, consider partnering with a community foundation or a bank. You can read about our charitable gift annuity campaigns here.

Two educational tools you should use immediately to learn about Gift Annuities and other types of planned gifts:

Where are your FAQs on Gift Plans?

We have more than just FAQs on Gift Plans.

Visit this page for gift planning questions and FAQs relating to technical details, relationships, marketing, and more. They are all moderated by technical experts, professionals in development, experienced marketing warriors, and attorneys.

Two educational tools you should use immediately to learn about the technical side of gift plans:

Learn Planned Giving

I'd like to learn technical details of planned gifts.

You don’t need to in very deep. But invest just a little bit of your time with these two publications:

Do you offer online learning?

Yes, and much more to come. Visit our webinars page for a list of upcoming live sessions and past recordings.

Is Planned Giving Right for You?

Guidelines for success.

If you are a full-time planned giving person, you should be making between 90 and 110 donor visits per year. This means, if you like people, you will greatly excel in planned giving.

Why is planned giving a better career?

Planned giving pays better, it’s less stressful, and is more stable. And those who even just dabble in planned giving are less likely to hop between jobs.

Just imagine if you did it full-time.

Your learning opportunities begin on this website.

Product Questions

Can we customize websites?

All websites (except Microsites) are fully branded. Your organization’s name is carried throughout. Several pages can be edited. The “necessary” pages (the gift plans) must be left as-is because they are fed through a database with content that has been legally vetted by the best counsel in the industry. These are the pages that host tax-related information that is always kept up to date.

Your most important pages are your donor stories. Focus on those.

Can we customize print materials?

All print marketing pieces such as postcards, brochures, estate planning guides, cornerstone brochures, off-the-shelf brochures, etc., can be customized.

Yes, completely, including your branding. We suggest, however, that you do not spend much time editing our tried and true content. Content that has been tested with over 4000 institutions over two decades.

(Note: Our value is our proven content; yet sometimes clients ask us to use their own copy. That defeats the purpose of utilizing PlannedGiving.Com to your full advantage. In addition, if you bring in your own copy, things get complicated fast. You’ll have to sign a release that your content has been reviewed by counsel, or, we’ll have to ask our attorney to review it. This means delayed deadlines and increased costs. If this is the path you wish to pursue, we can suggest several vendors who originated at first as print shops).

Can we host your websites ourselves?

No. This poses serious technical issues as well as royalty rights issues. It will also require significant staff involvement and you will end up with a static website that isn’t automatically updated to remain current (tax laws, improvements, etc.)

Read this document to see what it takes to develop a planned giving website in-house.

Do you offer planned giving calculators?

Yes, we offer our own calculators. However, the majority of planned gifts (92%) are beneficiary designations. These do not require a planned giving calculator. Even with larger institutions, the use of calculators is minimal. Focus on marketing tools and not back-end software that appeals to only 8% of donors.

As an aside… many fundraisers do not understand how calculators work. So do you really expect the donor to “get it?” Calculators are for the very few and that’s not where your focus should be at.

What are Advisor Calculators?

These are geared to the donor and their advisor, not the institution; they are provided as an added-value convenience.

Planned giving calculators are “institution centric” (gift payouts, gift deductions, etc.) vs donor calculators are “what’s in it for me” (Can I afford this gift? How long will I live? What’s the future value of my bequest? When will my mortgage end?)