Rate Tables and Hard Numbers in CGA Ads

Charitable Gift Annuity Rate Table Example

Don’t Bother

Fact: Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) rate tables or gift illustrations/examples really don’t work well in your planned giving marketing program. In fact, they do not even belong there as they shift the focus from your mission to the legal / financial.

Some non-profits want them in their CGA marketing pieces because they see them in everyone else’s stuff, but the reality is that they rarely bring in a gift.  Or bring in the wrong type of gift.

Storytelling

Give me a good outcomes-based donor story and say “Rates as high as 9%!” and that will make the phone ring / email come in / reply card get mailed. The customized illustration or example can always be delivered personally by the gift officer after the initial conversation. It is much more effective, and personal, that way. Remember: planned giving is a people business, not a legal business.

Furthermore, rate tables and gift examples look complicated. (Ordinary income?  IRS Discount Rate?  What’s that?) Our goal should always be to keep our marketing simple and donor-centric. Marketing is designed to get people to respond, not to educate them about every last detail of the gift opportunity.

Also: putting hard numbers out there can be tricky. Time and again we’ve seen a nonprofit advertise CGAs using a $5K gift example, and you know what? That’s exactly what they get – $5 K gifts. What size gift might they have received if they hadn’t low balled the example?

My colleague Brian Sagrestano once worked with a charity consistently using $10k CGA examples. Not surprisingly, this brought in $10k CGAs. When they instead started illustrating $25 K gifts, they received $25 K gifts. Gift size was being determined by the size of the example.

Remember, you get what you ask for.

But conversely, if you advertise with a $100 K example, that big number could be scaring some off some of your prospects.

Bottom line: focus on the mission, the benefits, and positive outcomes in all of your marketing pieces. Nitty gritty numbers can come later.

Leave the numbers for Wall Street and focus on your “lovemark.”

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