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Planned Gifts Take Too Long!

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About 3 months ago one of our clients (a hospital) called us with an emergency (I thought it was supposed to be the other way around).

The client told us they had 10 weeks to meet their goal for an additional 9 planned gifts. I was thinking, “no way — too short of a notice.” Regardless, we had a conference call and brainstormed. Couldn’t hurt — even if they missed their goals, we could always use this as a learning opportunity or generate new ideas to help other nonprofits.

We gave the advice below. They were very diligent and acted on it right away — and actually got 8 planned gifts. That’s far better than I hoped! I honestly thought they would get maybe just one or two, owing to the tight time frame (planned giving does move slow, you know).

Regardless, take these steps now. Who knows, your actions might even create more gifts. The numbers below apply to the hospital’s particular case. Yours will vary.

  1. Ask your board to spread the news.
  2. Send hand-addressed notecards to your most loyal donors; about 100 or so (do it with volunteers to increase camaraderie).
  3. Send hand-addressed letters; same as above; mention how they can give with a simple codicil … “family comes first” but consider 2% of your estate to …
  4. When they engage, mention the IRA Rollover and appreciated securities – a funny, effective catchphrase is, “Buy Low, Give High.™”
  5. Advertise on the local nonprofit radio station. You could do a show on planned giving that would benefit both you and the station. Not a “hot” topic you’re thinking? We’ve done this before and we’ve become very creative. Think “advertorial” here.
  6. Have a well-known/loved person from your organization or community do a planned giving video. A “known celebrity” can work miracles … And it does not have to be a Jerry Lewis. We did this a while ago with Harvard.
  7. Send an eBroadcast featuring a donor story, directing prospects to other stories and codicil information on your planned giving page.
  8. Get us about 4 donor stories (we we’ll edit and make more powerful) and we’ll develop a nice flier as a mail-stuffer (just like you get fliers in you bills). Use this for 12 months to come.
  9. Launch a calling campaign to your most loyal donors.
  10. Consider creating a donor album like this.
  11. Somewhere in the middle of all of the above, send out a card like this: “We can’t tell you we love you unless we know who you are.” (We know = you’ve told us you’ve left us in your will). We do this all the time, but Valentine’s Day works best.
  12. Consider sending out an estate planning guide, and a guide on how to choose an estate planning attorney.

It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t if it’s implemented over 12 months (and our client did it in less than 10 weeks!). When you succeed, we’ll interview you for Giving Tomorrow.

Who knows — you might even get a raise.

Disclaimer: note the word diligent above.

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