Saturday, June 9, 2012

Educating your prospects today for gifts 60 years from now

In planned giving circles it is universally recognized that consistent annual donors are the best prospects. In annual giving circles, we don't often think about gift planning other than the couple of times a year when they are doing mailings that overlap or when you get a response in the phone program of "you are in my will." One of the online programs that can be highly effective is to do follow up appeals to current year donors with strong history of giving asking them about their interest in doing a planned gift. This can be easily incorporated as a segment of standard annual giving appeals with a slightly different ask. That ask is to complete a super simple survey asking about interest in the long term viability of the institution and their interest in seeing that success. It ends with a question regarding their commitment, if any already on the bequest side and asking if a personal follow up might be of interest. This "standard" survey is simple to create and feeds directly to a staff member who is responsible for following up on all completed surveys regardless of the direction provided by the constituent. This follow up is a terrific opportunity to thank them for their commitment to annual support and inquire if there is anything further that might make sense to discuss. It takes a little bit of time to make results appear but it is well worth it when you get your first acknowledgement of an unknown bequest and even more so the first time your gift planning staff sends you a thank you for turning them onto a donor who made a planned gift including cash in the 6 figure range! You can also turn this on its head a little by talking with those who have made a planned commitment about annual support at a higher level - help ensure that we are in the best possible position to leverage your planned gift when the time comes for us to use it. Either way, integration of these two efforts can raise the profile of your work and further engage your donors, directly helping you achieve your own goals.