Scary Truths About Planned Giving

Let’s face it, planned giving has a spooky side.

As fundraisers, you may have your share of nonprofit horror stories. But being prepared, makes things a whole lot less scary.


Gift planning isn’t easy, and it can be confusing.

Bequests, CGAs, DAFs—these acronyms can overwhelm your donors.

That’s why you’re their expert. You provide them with the resources they need to make leaving a legacy simpler.

Utilize all of your communication channels to educate your audience on different gift types; so they know which option is best for them.

Which channel is best for which type of message? Check out our break down on how not to use channels and how to get the most out of them here.

Donors aren’t aware of the silos that exist within your organization.

Planned giving, annual giving, major giving—what’s the difference?

We know that there are significant differences amongst these gift types. However, receiving separate mailings from divisions within your organization can confuse your donors.

Help them out by being cohesive with your branding and messaging. Plan with your internal teams to cross-promote and educate your audiences. Offer all gift types in one place on your website. Share a Facebook page. The possibilities for teaming up are endless.

It’s a win for everyone: your planned giving program, your entire organization and its donors.

High net-worth donors don’t always have their financial affairs in order.

It’s easy to assume that the wealthy may have it “all figured out” financially, but sometimes that’s not the case.

Did you know that 38% of America’s wealthiest (net worth of over $2 million) do not feel that they have a secure financial plan for retirement*? When looking at the next level of wealth, those with a net worth of $500K to $2 million, that percentage grows to 60%.*

As you can see, there are plenty of planned giving educational opportunities with even the wealthiest of individuals.

Here are some ideas on how to reach these donors:

  • Provide simple tools they can use to get their financial affairs in order, such as estate planning kits.
  • Reinforce the idea that your organization is a good steward of donor dollars, with both donors and financial advisors.
  • Try an honor or tribute campaign.

Get more tips on how to resonate these individuals and find out more about them here.

Donor fatigue is real.

“Am I asking for too much too often?”

“How many times should I email my donors about CGAs?”

In the digital age, we are all drowning in a sea of emails, advertisements and other distractions. It is difficult to stay top of mind and not cross the line.

It’s not that your donors don’t want to talk to you; they may just need to be more engaged to take action.

  • When emailing, be sure to use industry best practices.
  • Target your sends. Try segmenting your digital and print messaging by age.
  • Give them opportunities across all mediums—direct mail, email, website, landing pages, social, etc.—to learn more about your organization and its planned giving program.

Noncash gift ‘nightmares’ come to life.

A gift is a gift—no matter how strange.

What is the most peculiar gift your organization has received as a donation: a collection of ceramic owls, a flock of sheep or even a mysterious (possibly haunted) piece of real estate?

Untraditional noncash gifts can strike fear in a planned giving officer. Fortunately, there’s help.

Having a technical advisor on your side is critical when it comes to these types of gifts. They can guide you out of the darkness and show you how to make the most out of your supporter’s thoughtful, and unique, donation.

What keeps you up at night?

We are dying to know.

What challenges have you faced? What tricks you use to conquer them?

*2017 NMI Healthy Aging Database Study

3 thoughts on “Scary Truths About Planned Giving

  1. Nathan, I enjoyed reading your post. I know that many fundraising professionals do find planned giving scary. However, given the great potential for massive support through planned giving, the truly scary thing about planned giving is simply not having a gift planning program or having one and doing it poorly.

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