It’s always been amazing to me how fundraisers position planned giving as a very complex and difficult strategy to secure funds from people when they die, rather than seeing it as a way to help the living fulfill their passions and interests.

Now, it’s true that most planned giving revenue comes from the estates of those who have passed, but the greater truth is this: planned giving revenue is a result of helping a living donor express their passions and interests through the wise planning of their assets. (Tweet it!)

And that, my friend, is an activity and effort that happens long before the donor passes away.

Bob Shafis, our Director of Planned Giving Services, has helped educate Jeff and me, and our team, to this reality. In a recent email to me he writes:

“The three legs of a mature and productive planned giving program are lead generation, fundraising and stewardship. These make up key elements of The Veritus Way of Planned Giving.”

He goes on to say: “And these key elements can only be properly managed through, first, analyzing donor data. The donor data not only tell us what to do, they also point us to the correct staffing for a planned giving effort. And there are three functions that need to be staffed and operational for maximum success:

  1. Securing new qualified donors for planned giving — A Planned Giving Associate (PGA), not the Planned Giving Officer (PGO), works on all the marketing that will cause leads to come into the organization. Then the PGA qualifies those leads for the PGO.
  2. The management of key relationships — A Planned Giving Officer (PGO) deals exclusively with qualified donors who are best positioned for a planned giving solicitation for new planned gifts. This is an important point, because in the old system of planned giving, the PGO did everything from lead generation to qualification to solicitation, etc. This approach is a major strategic change.
  3. Stewarding the donors who have said “yes” — A Planned Giving Associate is given responsibility for stewardship of donors with known, existing planned gifts – to maximize their connection to the mission of the charity, and to minimize attrition of planned gifts as the donor ages and ultimately passes away. This function is rarely staffed and functional in a non-profit. Why? Because, in the minds of the insiders, a living planned gift donor isn’t generating current revenue. Therefore, the expense of stewarding them cannot be justified. This is short-sighted, since 50% of the donors who make a planned gift commitment change their minds before they pass away. If they had been stewarded, this wouldn’t happen. So, the decision makers in the organization are deciding to save a current expense by losing future revenue. Not wise.”

My question to you right now is this: are you paying attention to these three functions in your planned giving program? If not, you’re likely not getting the most out of your planned giving efforts.


PS — Learn more about how we can help you, and get a free download on Planned Giving, when you click here.