3 of the Biggest Planned Giving Marketing Trends of 2020

From the #10YearChallenge to Baby Yoda, 2019 had no shortage of pop culture trends. (Did anyone else notice the return of the mullet?)

In fundraising, we have our own trends to watch. With you in mind, we’ve put together a shortlist of ideas to consider in your 2020 planned giving marketing program.

1. Identifying Your Key Segment: Leading Boomers

Baby boomers currently control more than 50 percent of the household wealth in the U.S. and comprise 41 percent of all charitable contributions.  They can give, and they will. The question is: Will they choose to support your mission, or someone else’s?

Here is a quick snapshot of boomers:

  • Leading boomers (born 1946–1955) may be retired, or moving into retirement, but not necessarily ready to move to Del Boca Vista (ala Senfield’s Frank Costanza) like their parents
  • Lagging boomers (1956–1964) are in prime earning years and likely looking ahead to retirement and/or their next chapter
  • 72.56 million, or 22.18 percent of the U.S. population (as of 2017)
  • Believe in/grew up challenging status quo
  • Value optimism, teamwork, strong work ethic, personal gratification and accomplishment
  • Want to see where their dollars go when donating, not as trusting as matures…view their philanthropy as an ‘investment’

Similar to every other generation, this key segment is unique due to the timing of their upbringing. However, they do have some things in common when it comes to giving with the Silent Generation before them (born 1929-1945). Case in point: Ninety percent of both generations say they donated money to a nonprofit between August 2016 and August 2017.

There are also differences between these audiences and realizing these distinctions enables you to hone your approach.

  • Boomers are more likely than matures to leave a gift to healthcare, human services and medical research nonprofits.
  • They also prefer to sit closer to the driver’s seat than matures. Boomers are more than 10 times more likely to make a restricted gift to healthcare and human services organizations, for example. They want to engage in deeper ways as well, like volunteering or using their career skills to help fill a need.
  • Although boomers have planned and invested wisely, financial concerns plague them given concerns around maintaining a lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to as well as being the first ‘sandwich generation’ (wherein they may have had adult children and adult parents living at home with them at some point). While a third of matures are very satisfied with their savings and investments, fewer than one in five boomers say the same.

Wondering how you can better engage your boomer and mature prospects? Watch our webinar Matures to Boomers: What Planned Giving Professionals Need to Know or read our blog about it for the full scoop.

2. Destinations vs. Drivers

Step No. 1: Consider your target audience. Step No. 2: Decide the appropriate delivery method.

Even the greatest destination in the world won’t attract visitors by itself. Whether that destination is the Taj Mahal or your planned giving program’s website, potential visitors need a way to get there. That’s where drivers come in.

Marketing drivers get your audience where you want them to go. And just like marketing destinations, drivers can be print or digital. They can be big, like an annual newsletter, or small, like a Facebook post.

Understanding the roles of your nonprofit’s various marketing drivers and destinations is key to their success. For more on this, check out our blog Your Email Is a Magazine Cover (& 6 Other Marketing Analogies).


After you’ve selected your target audience and channel(s), it’s time to finesse your message.

Depending on your donors’ stage in their journey, they may or may not be ready for conversion language. For example, if you have a list that’s new to planned giving and your donors are just beginning their journey, start by educating them. On the other hand, if your list has been exposed to planned giving for years, it’s time for conversion.

Don’t forget about the one in three planned giving intent principle. That is the percentage of potential planned gift donors who communicate their giving intentions ahead of time (34 percent) vs. those that don’t (66 percent). Donors who have committed to leaving a planned gift, but haven’t socialized it with your organization, will still appreciate general education messaging (i.e. what is the problem and how is your nonprofit helping to solve it).

3. Self-directed Donors

We live in the age of the self-directed consumer (or donor). Still, less can be more—even in 2020. Your digital presence today should be concise, easy to navigate and relevant.

Technology has provided access to an abundance of information about everything, including your nonprofit. Opposed to the days before the internet, when sharing info was a more controlled, one-way format, people can now pick and choose where they’ll go to get what they’re seeking.

Google your organization, what do you find? This is your nonprofit’s digital footprint; your supporters and prospects are finding the same things you are—and probably more.

Equally as important as your digital footprint is understanding your donors’ interactions with your brand, both online and offline. Whether it be direct mail, email, survey, website or social media, how are your donors engaging with your nonprofit? Ask yourself what is working, and what could be working better. In other words, you must regularly “kick the tires” of your planned giving marketing program.

No longer can we cast those big, wide nets in hopes of landing a planned gift or learning of a gift intention—aka “spray and pray.” Direct mail must be more focused, targeted and personal, and our digital outreach must be more purposeful, pertinent and connected.

Keep in mind: Your digital marketing plans don’t need to be elaborate to generate results. Create a digital strategy that works with the help of Your Digital Marketing Handbook.

We want to hear what you’re focusing on in the new year! Let us know in the comments.

Looking for a blast from the past? Try (re)visiting planned giving marketing trends of 2018 and 2019.

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