Second in a series: The Seven Deadly Sins of Planned Giving
Our Director of Planned Giving, Robert Shafis, really gets worked up when I ask him about how effective non-profits are in generating – and then actually following up on – planned giving leads.
You see, Bob has been at this a long time, and he knows what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, he’s witnessed too many non-profits mishandling leads for planned giving and wasting away a great opportunity for the non-profit. He feels awful for the donor who wants to leave a legacy to something they feel passionate about, but it never happens.
He pointed out to me that there are three big issues regarding lead generation.
- Lead generation strategies have been ineffective in identifying donors who are actually ready to make a gift. Years ago, the planned giving program got leads from many sources: great donors, allied professionals, newsletters, direct mail and even from seminars.
But things have changed.
The tired old newsletters and direct mail are becoming less and less effective every year, especially those seminars! New planned giving programs are using email, surveys, social media, donor-behavior tracking and e-newsletters to create leads – but like any lead generation program, it only works when you have a strategy behind it and you’re constantly evaluating results and following up properly. The problem is that too often, there’s no strategy.
- No effective way to follow up. We’ve evaluated many planned giving programs, and some lead generation strategies are bringing in hundreds of leads at a time. This gives the PGO hundreds of “hot leads” to follow up on all at once. This almost guarantees failure, because it’s impossible to follow up those leads in a timely manner.
- This leads to the next problem that exists in both #1 and #2 above: There is no clear plan to follow up with whatever leads are generated. You’ve got to have a plan for how to sift through and qualify your planned giving leads. Most PGOs who now have dozens or hundreds of leads in their inbox are overwhelmed and not equipped to handle them.
Most PGOs should be well-versed in the different planned giving instruments and how to cultivate, steward and lead a donor to close a gift. That takes a lot of technical expertise, which is why you pay a good PGO a higher salary. Why have that person also trying to qualify leads?
We recommend hiring a Planned Giving Associate that can take those leads, qualify them and hand them over to your PGO, who is the technical expert and adept at closing gifts. This is a much more efficient and cost-effective way to turn a potential gift into a closed gift.
If you’re leading a planned giving team, do you know how effective your planned giving lead generation is? How many leads are coming in each year, what is the cost of acquiring those leads, what is your plan for follow up, and what is the ratio of leads to closed gifts?
If you don’t have that information, avoid Sin #2 of planned giving by stepping back to review your program, and work to really understand how effective you are in lead generation and follow up.
Read the whole series “The Seven Deadly Sins of Planned Giving”
- First Deadly Sin of Planned Giving: Not Focusing on Meaningful Connections
- Second Deadly Sin of Planned Giving: Ineffective Lead Generation (This Post)
- Third Deadly Sin of Planned Giving: Overloading Caseloads
- Fourth Deadly Sin of Planned Giving: No Plan for Every Donor
- Fifth Deadly Sin of Planned Giving: Marketing from a Distance
- Sixth Deadly Sin of Planned Giving: No Plan for Stewardship
- Seventh Deadly Sin of Planning Giving: Over-emphasizing Professional Advisors
Our organization does have a PG officer (1). The catch 22 is that in order for me to meet my metrics, I need to have PG prospects in my donor portfolio. So, I need to think and act, at least half of the time, as a PG officer. However, I have not formal training in that area, nor do I have the marketing materials to cultivate these individuals. It seems I could be much more effective, if I had help in both areas. Any suggestions?
Lots of thoughts on this. Is there an opportunity to learn from the PGO; is he/she open to helping you with learning more, and will they partner with you on some names? If not, there are lots of ways to learn more about planned giving, and materials to share with your donors about planned giving have never been more available on-line. Feel free to contact me off-line to talk more.
Bob Shafis, Veritus Group, firstname.lastname@example.org