Get Personal: Make Your PG Marketing More Creative—and Impactful

No ifs, whens or buts about it. Personalization is the now—not the future—of planned giving marketing.

When Dear Sir” Becomes “Hi Tom” 

Maybe you can’t put it into words, but it’s likely something you do every day. After all, personalized marketing is at the heart of any successful planned giving program. Nurturing a prospect involves getting to know them—family, careers, education and other life stories. Does it get any more personal than that?

A more by-the-book definition of personalized marketing uses data analyses to segment prospect and donor information (e.g., by ages, giving patterns, etc.) to then hone targeted marketing initiatives and messaging that hits the high points of where people are on their planned giving journey.

We’re Thinking About You

Simply put, personalized marketing enables you (the nonprofit) to appear to have a more personal conversation with recipients in planned giving marketing materials; for example, in a newsletter cover letter or email campaign funding update. Personalized marketing tells donors that your organization values them, that you know them and that they are integral to the growth and success of your work.

Personalization starts with your database and list. They are your currency. Treat them as precious gold by keeping list scrubbed, or clean with current donor information. Dig into your list regularly to review and ensure that you’re extracting the right information based on information like:

  • giving patterns
  • giving levels
  • life events
  • personal motivations

Want to learn more about personalized marketing? In “Dear Sir/Madam: Your Marketing Needs to Be More Personal,” our creative and digital teams share their tips and insight. “How to Harness Big Data” offers a tactical approach to best managing big data.

Personalized marketing isn’t all about list segmenting and data analysis, however. They’re certainly the tools of the trade. But how you use them to uniquely—and creatively—speak to your audiences sets you apart from the din of other charitable “talk” in prospects’ inboxes or mailboxes.

Try these ideas to shore up the creativity of your personalized marketing.

Legacy Society

Here, personalization should convey exclusivity yet a warm welcome—an honor to be a part of, yet an aspiration to get into.

If you haven’t already, create a unique, meaningful name for your legacy society. Maybe the name stems from a past prominent figurehead, an institutional landmark or inspirational word or phrase. Put thought into this name, as it sets the tone for the society’s marketing moving ahead.

Announce the new name in your newsletter and “welcome” letter to a pulled list of top planned giving prospects. Also include a short blurb in every newsletter or one-line reminder about planned giving in print and digital marketing, something like, “To ensure your legacy at XYZ lives on, join our Smith Legacy Society. Call us to learn more.”

Other Legacy Society personalization tactics to try:

  • Send a personalized cover letter with newsletters—at a minimum use their name in the salutation. A short, handwritten note also endears readers and builds bonds.
  • Create a special seal to affix to printed correspondence, a symbol that shows you honor their gift commitment and legacy.
  • Host thank-you luncheons or smaller get-togethers at various convenient locations. This demonstrates that you’ll come to them with continued appreciation and attention, wherever they are, not that they have to come to you.
  • Begin a “big-brother” partnership where you partner established members with new members to forge relationships, strengthen commitments and build excitement and joy in being a Legacy Society member.

Reunions/Alumni Gatherings

Similar to Legacy Society personalization, these events present an opportunity to get creative in your personalized marketing efforts.

Supporters who haven’t created a planned gift: Although broader in scope, and likely not as strongly affiliated with your nonprofit day to day, this group can still quickly feel the tug of connection. (Nostalgia and/or memories are powerful!)

Consider a direct mail or a digital event invitation (email, social media, text, depending on preferences of segmented age groups) to special events or homecoming weekends. Use strong images to elicit interest and short copy with a humorous twist to garner interest like, “Remember how walking under the campanile meant you’d fail your finals? Come back during homecoming weekend and tell that bell a thing or two.”

Planned giving—especially in those words—doesn’t have to take center stage but can be thoughtfully integrated into copy. For example, “Stop by the student union to get your special alumni T-shirt and learn more about an easy way leave your legacy at XYZ University.” Or, “We’ll have a thank-you card waiting just for you from our grateful patients. While we’re together, let’s talk about how you can improve the lives of those who will need you tomorrow too.”

Supporters who have created a planned gift: Larger events, like openings or galas, or university class reunions, offer built-in occasions to bring this group “home,” whether in person or through real-time social media, like Instagram or Facebook Live. Plan special appreciation events for this select group, like tours of new-building tours, or a lunch-and-learn on a theater’s backstage or behind closed doors at a museum.

Beyond the Bequest: Charitable Gift Annuities

This type of planned gift is all about age (age determines rate), so breaking out your data by age not only is personal but, more important, accurate. Running donor calculations requires extra effort but shows prospects that you’ll go the extra mile to make it easy and rewarding for them to create this type of gift.

Other tips to creatively personalize your planned giving marketing:

  • Tell stories that convey legacies—We’ll continue to bring it up because it’s impactful. Storytelling is the epitome of personalization. Psychology Today shares how stories bring people together: “When you tell a story to a friend, you can transfer experiences directly to their brain.  They feel what you feel. They empathize.”
  • Make the planned giving journey a two-way street by incorporating touchpoints for prospect feedback. This conveys that you truly care about building a relationship and provides an objective benchmark to assess effectiveness and affinity. Touchpoints can run the gamut from a survey to a more personalized one-on-one phone call or informal meeting.

We’ll leave you with this about personalized marketing: 81% of consumers (prospects and donors) want brands (organizations) to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to.*

How will you do that in creative, personalized ways that show you value prospects and want to help them achieve their planned giving goals?



*Accenture, 2017

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