I was in “road warrior mode” this past summer and fall. I traveled all over—from Texas to New York and many, many parts in between. My travel and time away from my family can be a bit exhausting, but I’m always grateful and re-energized when talking with my nonprofit peers.
My most recent trip out East gave me a chance to compare what I hear from those that have recently entered the planned giving field with that of more experienced planned giving fundraisers.
Quick rewards vs. long-term engagement
One planned giving person, new to the field, that I met with was interested in any and every new tool and idea that could produce greater, quicker and bigger lead generation. He was all about conversions, ratios, measurement and multiple ways of tracking results. We had a lot to talk about. I loved his desire for accountability and tangible results as ultimately “it’s not worth doing if you’re not tracking it.”
On the flipside, another planned giving person I visited with was a seasoned veteran who had been at his organization for over 16 years. He understands, and has personally seen the benefits of, the 1 in 3 planned giving intent principle* and its importance: That’s the percentage of potential planned gift donors who communicate their giving intentions ahead of time (34%) versus those that don’t (66%). “I know these people don’t disclose their plans, but I have to talk to them anyway,” he said. He stresses ongoing stewardship and education targeted at these “silent” prospects.
His philosophy and approach is simple: Part “air cover” and part “lead generation.” His “air cover” is directed to the 66% and consists of a simple, cost-efficient, drip campaign of topical postcards sent on a regular basis, offering a constant flow of ideas on how a prospective donor can help themselves, their family and the organization. He’s realistic in that he doesn’t expect a lot of immediate response from these efforts…that’s not the point! This immediate response is generated from the “lead generation” campaigns that he runs in concert with his other efforts. This includes targeted surveys (digital and print) and estate planning kit offerings, among other campaigns. This is where he identifies and engages the 34%.
Eventually, the gifts come in from both efforts. He said he’s been around long enough to see several cycles of this strategy come to fruition as gifts ‘mature’ and are received by the organization. Outreach eventually will pay off, even if intent cannot be measured and documented immediately.
The measurable vs. the immeasurable; there’s value in both
My take away from these conversations is that a thoughtful, modern nonprofit organization needs to appreciate the value of newer tools along with the time-tested practices of reaching and impressing upon planned giving prospects.
CRM tracking, social, direct marketing print and digital resources are all examples of efficient, modern communication tools that can give you an efficient return on your investment in finding and identifying higher-potential prospects.
At the same time, personal interaction, in-person events, and yes, even postcards, are also the types of communication vehicles that help you keep prospects in the fold—even if you don’t know their planned giving intent.
If you are reaching them regularly with the right message and inviting them to be a part of your world, many of your silent prospects will eventually answer back with the ultimate response: a meaningful planned gift.
Want to see how others have utilized new and traditional approaches to find planned giving marketing success? Check this out.
*2008 Stelter Donor Insight Report, Discovering the Secret Giver