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Rate Tables and Hard Numbers in CGA Ads? Don't Bother.

Fact: Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) rate tables or gift illustrations/examples really don’t work well. 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.

Give me a good outcomes-based 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. It is much more effective that way.

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 – $5K gifts. What size gift might they have received if they hadn’t lowballed 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 $25k gifts, they received $25K 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 $100K 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.

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