Getting buy-in for planned giving requires you to help the decision makers at your non-profit to understand the economics of planned giving. Because when they don’t understand the economics, they can’t see the millions of dollars they are losing.

To us at Veritus, it’s that simple. If you could spend $1 and get back $10 or more, why wouldn’t you do it? Several reasons:

  1. You don’t know it’s possible.
  2. The timing between the investment and the return is too long.

Let’s talk about each of these.

When Bob Shafis, our Director of Planned Giving Services, does an analysis of planned giving potential for a non-profit, the bottom-line of his analysis points to several key discoveries. I’ll pull from an actual analysis with real numbers to show you what I mean:

  1. Number of donors in the file who have estate plans: 56,293 donors.
  2. Number of those donors who are ready for cultivation and qualification: 8,804 donors.
  3. Number of undiscovered bequests in the donor file: 906, with a value of between $36.2 and $63.4 million.
  4. Number of planned giving officers and planned giving associates that should be hired in addition to current staff to manage this potential: In this case, 3 planned giving officers and 3 planned giving associates are needed to steward those donors who have made a planned gift.

Now, it’s a bit more complex than what I’ve written here, but these are the essentials. And the whole thing nets down to: “Here are millions of dollars of giving that could come to your organization, IF you staff up and make it happen.” Period.

So, a proper planned giving analysis would demonstrate that it is indeed possible to see this kind of return on your planned giving investment.

On the subject of timing and the gap between investment in planned giving and the return, it is true that this presents a cash flow problem. Unlike direct marketing or mid or major gifts, where the return is almost immediate, the return in planned giving is often years away from the investment, with the exemption of the bump you’ll experience in current giving when you engage with donors who want to make a planned gift.

This delay in the return is often the reason many decision makers don’t take steps to develop their planned giving program.

I mean, why spend a bunch of money now that will (a) hurt my fundraising ratios for this year, and (b) not show a return until after I’m no longer in this job? For most development executives, it’s negative all the way around both from a professional point of view – the ratios – and the personal point of view – getting credit for the revenue.

This is why managers and leaders need to be creative in how they develop their planned giving program by taking the following steps:

  1. Allow the fundraising ratios to move a couple of points. As much noise there is out in the marketplace about fundraising ratios, most donors care more about impact than they do about the ratios, with the exception that if the ratios are way off, it is symptomatic of poor management and lack of effectiveness. But if your organization is regularly showing proof of impact – that donors’ dollars are making a difference on the planet – then spending a little more to get the planned giving program going is worth it.
  2. Secure capacity-building grants from foundations and/or selected donors. If you do the analysis and you create the business plan that shows the relationship of the planned giving investment to the return, there are foundations and individual donors who will give you the funds to develop your program. I’ve created a number of these plans and personally experienced how it works. With the right business plan, a savvy donor can see the wisdom and practicality of investing in a planned giving program for the organization they love. In fact, there’s hardly a better investment a donor can make than one in planned giving because of the generous returns it will have.

Take steps in 2022 to invest in planning giving. If you need help, we can do the analysis and the business plan writing, plus we’ll guide you on the approaches you need to take to secure capacity-building grants.

Whatever you do, do not delay getting your planned giving program up and running. It will be one of the best decisions you make.