4 Key Takeaways from CGP 2019–In a Nutshell: Planned Giving Is Alive and Well!

Another amazing national conference has come and gone, but the connections and learnings will impact gift planners and their work long after the last person left New Orleans.

Before I dive into our key takeaways from this year’s CGP Conference, I wanted to share some thoughts.

We are truly blessed to be in an industry with so many smart and dedicated professionals. Led by the great staff at the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, their volunteer board, their Leadership Institute members and all of their national members, it’s an awesome community to be associated with. And word must have gotten out, as 924 people attended the conference this year—a number that hasn’t been seen since the recession.

That record attendance was treated to an outstanding opening keynote by Alex Banayan. We also watched some incredible industry leaders—Bob Sharpe Sr., Bob Sharpe Jr., Jonathan Tidd and Conrad Teitell—receive Hall of Fame awards and, as always, saw a terrific lineup of thought-provoking sessions. And how about that Second Line leading the way into the opening dinner?!

I don’t know about you, but I am already looking forward to seeing everyone again next year—in Chicago! Personally, my biggest takeaway from this year is that planned giving is alive and well. Here are just a few other key takeaways I gathered from CGP 2019:

1. Hiring Fundraisers Is Easy. Keeping Them Is Harder.

Did you know that half of development professionals plan to leave their charities in the next two years and 30% of fundraisers say they plan to leave fundraising altogether, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy?

Laura Hansen Dean, Senior Director of Gift Design and Documentation at the University of Texas at Austin, believes the nonprofit sector can do better–and it starts with management. In her collaborative session, “Best Practices:  Support from the Top” she highlighted several best practices that can be used to help retain fundraisers.

She stressed that the management team needs to not only understand gift planning but their staff’s roles in the success of gift planning. Recognize fundraiser achievement and combat turnover by creating progress meters or sending weekly virtual “high five” emails that highlight completed gifts or fundraising milestones. Implementing these best practices and finding creative ways to recognize fundraisers for their achievements can keep your organization’s team engaged and inspired.

2. Focus On Those Who Focus On You.

“Allied Professionals & Advisory Councils Are Dead…Long Live the Rolodex” was a session hosted by Eric Abramson, VP of Certified Financial Services LLC, and Paul Hansen, VP of Morgan Stanley.

This session’s theme: Quit trying to have large advisory councils with un-engaged allied professionals on it and instead go deep with just a few allied professionals that are passionate about your cause.

This strategy is something Stelter preaches for planned giving as well. Focus on the prospects and donors who show consistent interest, opposed to trying to find more names for your list that aren’t truly interested or invested in your mission. (Quality over quantity.)

3. You Don’t Have to Target the Wealthy for Planned Giving.

If you were at the conference, did you have the opportunity to attend, “If You Build It They Will Commit: Mining Your Loyal Donor Pool for Bequest Fundraising and More”?

The Nature Conservancy packed this presentation full of important information on their “Loyal Donor” program. Liz Thompson, Director, Loyal Donor Program at TNC, and Aleksandra Stankovic, Associate Director, Loyal Donor Program at TNC, discussed the launch of their nation-wide program and its success over the last two years.

Some secrets to their success: 1) Work smart by creating a system. 2) It still takes the personal touch to yield the best results!

4. Marketing Is Still Essential.

If you’re a regular reader, I’m sure you are already aware that marketing is a crucial component of any planned giving program.

Dr. James Preston, Assistant Executive Director, MU Extension & Engagement Advancement at the University of Missouri-Columbia presented a solid 10-years-worth of data for you to share, validating investment in marketing in his compelling session, “Keep Calm and Market On: Measuring ROI of Planned Gift Marketing.”

EXCLUSIVE: Dr. James first presented this session in our Stelter Webinar Series a few months back. Check out the recording here.

Were you at CGP 2019? What did you take home with you, other than some conference swag? We would love to hear about some other sessions you found valuable. (Unfortunately, you can’t attend them all!)

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