Planned Giving Marketing Trends of 2018

With each new year comes a fresh start, whether that be for your physical fitness regime or your planned giving efforts: Use it to your advantage.

2017 was a year of learning, growth and—as always—change. Kickstart 2018, and your planned giving program, with these ideas:

1. Targeting vs. “Spraying and Praying”—Use our research to your advantage.

Target communications by generation. You may have heard my recent talk about matures to boomers with Stelter’s Data Insights Manager, Cheryl Sturm. Or perhaps you read our recent blog about it.

The truth is, all generations differ just as much as matures and boomers do. Each generation has its own set of primary concerns, wants and needs.

Generally speaking, as planned giving fundraisers, we should be:

  • Educating millennials (born 1977-1998).
  • Recruiting Gen Xers (born 1965-1976).
  • Transitioning baby boomers (born 1946-1964).
  • Motivating matures (born 1900-1945).

Learn more on how to grab the attention of any donor, in any generation, in our myth-busting blog Don’t Waste Your Time on Donors Younger Than 65.

Target communications according to your nonprofit sector. Donor characteristics not only vary generationally, but also according to nonprofit sector. Trends can be spotted amongst each giving sector’s donors.

Take arts and humanities donors for example. According to the most recent NMI Healthy Aging Database Study, sponsored in part by The Stelter Company, of all the giving categories, arts and culture donors are most likely to say they have a last will and testament in place—coming in at a distinguishing 57% versus the average of 32%. Additionally, nearly half (49%) are very or somewhat likely to make a planned gift at the time of their death.

What does this mean for you and your arts and humanities organization? When making appeals, be sure to talk about making changes to estate documents—opposed to creating them—because most already have some documents in place. You might also use these findings to urge those who have not yet put these documents in place to “keep up with the Joneses” in their giving category.  Provide the mental push for them to do what their peers are doing.

College and universities’ donors also show some defining attributes. About a third (34%) of those who give to higher education say they prefer restricted gifts, the highest percentage of any giving category.*

If you are a college or university foundation, a challenge you often face is the restricted gift. Keep in mind that this challenge may lead to sealing the deal when working with your donors.

2. Social Media vs. Snail Mail—Whether you refer to it as a trend, or a necessity for survival, social media is here to stay.

Don’t get me wrong, direct mail still has a place in fundraising. However, social media isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Make it your mission to up your nonprofit’s social media game this year.

If you’re feeling lost, start following successful nonprofits on social media; that is, if you haven’t already. Of course, for-profit accounts can also be a source of inspiration. Take note of what works for them, as well as what types of posts aren’t as popular. There is no exact science in the digital realm that is social media.

Get creative. Use strong and simple call to actions, enticing infographics or make it fun with social media quizzes or contests.

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Test out using a cover video on your organization’s Facebook, like The Humane Society of the United States.

“Go fishing where the fish are.” A great benefit of social media is access to a like-minded community. And, depending on the size and type of your nonprofit, you may have people like, share and even advocate on your behalf that aren’t a part of your database—yet.

If you’re looking for more creative ways to maximize social, consider doing some ‘retargeting’ of prospective donors using names already housed in your database.

3. Surveying vs. Traditional FundraisingSurvey is the must-have tool for your 2018 planned giving marketing communications. It’s as simple as that.

Asking prospective donors what you’re doing right, and—arguably more important—wrong, is essential to a thriving planned giving program. With all of your daily demands, you couldn’t possibly ask them all yourself. That’s where this solution comes into play.

Surveys provide invaluable information vital to:

  • Build a pipeline of planned giving prospects
  • Gauge donors’ affinity with aspects of their mission and services
  • Gain valuable feedback on current stewardship efforts
  • Identify, benchmark and adjust communications based on donors’ attitudes and trends
Check out these survey results.

Are you prepared for 2018? What planned giving trends do you predict will emerge this year?


*2017 NMI Healthy Aging Database Study

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