As the year draws to a close, you are likely gearing up to make the most of the year-end giving season. This is a crucial time to secure funds that will drive your mission forward. However, one strategy that often gets overlooked is the partnership between major gifts and planned giving. Most organizations have no idea how much money (and connection to their donor) they’re leaving on the table by not talking about planned giving and major gifts together.

But… how do you get started?

1. Identify Prospective Planned Giving Donors

To identify potential planned giving prospects from your major gift caseload, consider the following key indicators:

  • Long-Term Donors: Those contributing for 10+ years.
  • Engaged Volunteers: Individuals who actively volunteer for our organization.
  • Recent Contributors: Donors who have made a gift in the last two years.
  • Cumulative Giving: Donors with a lifetime giving of $10,000 or more.

If a donor meets all these criteria, they are likely a strong planned giving prospect.

2. Collaborative Strategies

When a planned giving staff member is on your team, you are in an optimal situation. It’s more important than ever that the major gifts and planned giving teams work together to create the right strategies for each donor. By breaking down silos and sharing insights between the two teams, you will be able to create a system and structure that allows donors to reach their full capacity. 

Below are the top three areas the major gift and planned giving teams will need to discuss before approaching any donor with a dual ask.

    1. Partnership and Information Sharing: Learn about the materials your planned giving staff have shared with donors and any expressed donor interests that may have come from surveys and/or phone calls. 
    2. Strategic Planning: Determine the best approach for each donor. Identify who has the strongest relationship, who can answer the donor’s questions, and who can assist them in creating a tailored giving plan. 
    3. Understanding Donor Needs: Focus on understanding the donor’s preferences and needs. Remember, it’s not about who makes the ask; it’s about ensuring the donor’s needs are met. Regardless of who asks, make it a partnership with the donor at the center.

3. A Cultural Shift Toward Donor Partnership

For organizations lacking planned giving staff, you’re not alone and should still consider which donors might be ready for a dual ask. You can initiate planned giving conversations using Permission-Based Asking. Seek permission to discuss estate plans and inquire about your donor’s interest in leaving a legacy gift. Rooted in respect, our Permission Based Asking approach opens the door for meaningful conversations, ultimately paving the way for a year-end dual ask involving major gifts and planned giving.

(For any MGOs who will be making planned giving asks, leaders should make sure to have resources they can refer to so they’re informed about some of the different ways that donors can make a planned gift.)

Changing your approach requires embracing relationship-focused strategies, setting goals that explore all giving options, and fostering regular collaboration between gift officers. Learning from one another and aligning your efforts will strengthen your impact. 

4. Bring Joy to Your Donors

Approach this year-end season as a unified team, embracing the value of planned giving alongside major gifts. Together, you can create lasting legacies, honoring your donors’ generosity and a shared commitment to your cause. Remember, donors want to solve a problem, make a difference, and know what their gift accomplished. By making that dual ask, you are not only securing funds but also bringing your donors the joy they deserve. 

If you follow these steps with your donors right now, I’m confident you’ll make an even greater year-end impact. Plus, you’ll set yourself up for incredible relationships with your donors moving forward. 


Kara Ansotegui is Director of Client Services at Veritus Group. She has over 20 years of experience in non-profit leadership serving in fundraising and marketing executive roles. Kara has been responsible for strategic program development in major gifts, mid-level, and donor relations. She has served as the CRM data management SME for numerous non-profits. Kara has an undergraduate in Business Administration from Oregon State University and an MBA in Marketing from Georgia State University.