One commonly used explanation of various types of donations is the donor pyramid. While this pyramid might have some inherently debatable aspects, it is a great representation of the importance of planned gifts.
The donor pyramid is generally represented looking something like this:
This pyramid means that for most nonprofits, the majority of people who give are occasional donors and event participants, next are annual and recurring donors, then major gift donors, and finally (the smallest percentage) are planned gift donors.
While planned gift donors are the smallest percentage of your donors, they often give the largest gifts. These gifts are arranged at an earlier date to be paid later on, usually in the form of a person’s will or trust after their passing.
Your occasional donors and event participants are certainly important. Many times these donors can graduate to the next level of the pyramid. So make sure you have a solid foundation for your pyramid base (the occasional donors), including strategies such as a solid donation page, text-to-give services, etc. Then, you can move onto planned giving.
Formulating a planned giving strategy doesn’t need to be excessively difficult, but it does need to be well thought-out. Be sure that in your planned giving strategy, your nonprofit:
- Starts with effective prospect research.
- Uses existing materials to start marketing.
- Creates a planned giving page on your website.
- Designs an effective planned giving brochure.
Make sure you market your planned giving just as much as you do occasional donations. The value produced by planned gifts is worth it. Now, let’s dive in to learn more about your marketing strategy!
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1. Start with effective prospect research
Start your search for the perfect planned giving candidate with effective prospect research. Prospect research helps you identify supporters with a high affinity for giving based on strong wealth and philanthropic indicators.
Wealth indicators are things like stock ownership, real estate ownership, and historic political giving. Meanwhile, philanthropic indicators include things like historic giving to your organization, other involvement like volunteering, and contributions to similar organizations.
To get the most out of your prospect research, the first step is to make sure you have the best donor prospecting tools for your organization.
Various donor prospecting tools your organization may choose from include:
- Research consultants. Research consultants are experts who can provide organizations complete, comprehensive portfolios about prospects to guide your planned giving strategy. Plus, you get this information in a single bundle without spending your precious time on research.
- Prospect research databases. Databases compile public records from many different sources so that you can simply search someone’s name and find important indicators for their giving affinity.
- Public records for research. Public records are available for your perusal about anyone in your constituent relationship manager (CRM). Even a simple Google search might produce more results than you’d originally expect.
Prospect research helps you to target the people who have the best chance of signing up for a planned giving program with your marketing materials. Targeted messages and actions will generate the best results for your planned giving marketing strategy.
If hiring a consultant sounded like a good move for your organization, check out Donorly’s key considerations to hiring a prospect research consultant before you dive into the hiring process.
2. Use Your Existing Materials to Start Marketing
Chances are, you’ve already established a marketing strategy for other aspects of your organization. Don’t let your existing marketing materials slack while you think about planned giving. In fact, it could be incredibly beneficial for you to work planned giving into these existing marketing materials.
Not only are your existing materials established for your organization, but they’re also established for your readership. Adding in a quick blurb about planned giving to these marketing materials allows your planned giving strategy to benefit from the authority you’ve already established.
For example, if you send a monthly nonprofit email newsletter, you likely have readership who look forward to the email and read (or skim) each letter from beginning to end. This established readership will surely read your information about planned giving in your next newsletter.
Some other platforms on which you might consider adding a blurb or two about planned giving include:
- Regularly sent emails.
- Your “Ways to Give” page on your website.
- Publications, white pages, or magazines.
- Your annual report.
- Special events.
- Direct mail.
On your existing materials, you don’t want planned giving to take over the page. The purpose of including this information here is to familiarize your established audience with the idea of planned giving and the program that your organization offers. It doesn’t have to convince people right then and there.
Your planned giving marketing strategy can be subtle in the beginning. It doesn’t need to draw too much attention from your reader; and it certainly shouldn’t take them away from the general purpose of that marketing material.
3. Make a planned giving page on your website
In addition to including the planned giving blurb on your “Ways to Give” page on your website, be sure to also include an online page that gives more information about planned giving. You want to tell your readers what it is, why it’s important, and how they can sign up.
Use your donor research that we talked about earlier to target your messages to those who are most likely to give, then link them to this important page.
On your explanatory page, you’ll want to be sure to use straightforward and sentimental language. Focus the information around what a person could accomplish with such a gift. This gift may be seen as their legacy, so be cognizant to appeal to the general impact that people want to make by giving to your organization.
Remember to connect this giving method to your overall mission of your organization. Those who are the strongest candidates for planned giving are those who have already proven their dedication to your mission, so keep this mission at the forefront of your marketing strategy.
Planned giving pages will appeal to those who frequently visit your website or are looking for unique ways to give. Maybe they’ve given in the past, but want to make a bigger difference. Your website will be their first resource to start the research process about the program.
4. Design a Planned Giving Brochure
Planned giving brochures are more likely to reach some of your audience members than a page on a website. Be sure you have both a webpage and a paper brochure to inform people of the opportunity for planned giving.
Again, this marketing material should walk through what planned giving is, why it’s important, and how interested people can get involved.
What makes a brochure different? You can send a brochure directly to your targeted audience through direct mail. Before printing and sending this brochure, be sure to:
- Look through your CRM for audience members who would be more moved by a brochure. These may be people without email addresses or who don’t receive your regular newsletter.
- Include a place in the brochure where the reader can get more information. This may be the URL for the website page you put together or a phone number to call.
- Brand the planned giving brochure to your organization so that it is easily recognizable to the reader.
You already know how important it is to speak from the heart. You do so on your online donation forms. It’s no different for your planned giving brochure. Speak from the heart and show your readers that you care about their important philanthropic and financial decisions.
Once you’ve created your brochure, you’ll need to distribute it. Send it in the mail to your targeted audience. However, you should also remember to bring it to different events (especially to those that prospects are attending), make it available at your organization’s headquarters, and anywhere else you have a human presence.
You’ll need to be prepared for people to have questions about the program. Be ready to answer questions at any time once the marketing strategy has been launched. Your prospects will want to have a deep conversation before committing to such a gift.
Once you’ve created your marketing strategy for this fundraising initiative, double check it with Double the Donation’s fundraising strategy assessment. Make sure everything is up-to-par, then get marketing!