Stay focused!
Jeff and I are often asked if MGOs should be engaged in planned giving work. Without taking even a second to reply, we say NO.
And here’s why.

  1. The MGO does not have the time. If you have a fully qualified caseload of donors, you do not have time to do ANYTHING but serve the passions and interests of those donors. When we have seen MGOs trying to add something else, like planned giving, their numbers are awful.
  2. Both areas suffer. The planned giving performance numbers are depressed, as are the major gift numbers.
  3. Planned Giving is highly technical. The only thing a good MGO can do is refer donors to PGOs. And they should do that. But trying to have a MGO engage in planned giving with donors is wrong thinking.
  4. It does not save money. Some managers think there is a great savings by blending positions, until they look at the performance and return on investment (ROI) numbers. Then they realize the money “saved” has been lost in the money not raised. It just does not work.
  5. It doesn’t address the full planned giving needs of an organization. Think about this. A MGO has 150 qualified donors. So, let’s say an organization has 3 MGOs. That’s 450 donors. There are thousands of other donors, outside the caseloads, who are great targets for planned giving services. Who is addressing this opportunity for the organization with this blended model? No one.

I know – in some quarters the “blended” position is “the very best thing.” But those who embrace this practice have not looked at the numbers. Most blended positions have very weak return on investment in both major gifts and planned giving. The numbers tell the whole story.
One area we do feel strongly about is planned giving referrals. MGOs should have a performance metric related to this area, for example “how many referrals did you give to planned giving”? But that is the only involvement MGOs should have, with one exception. If you are a small organization and cannot afford two positions, I can see having a blended position for a season. But get out of that mode as soon as it becomes economically feasible.
So if your manager is asking you to “do” planned giving, share this blog with him or her and start a conversation. If nothing else, it boils down to economics. Do you want to lose money and opportunity? Then stay on the blended track. If not, get off.