Today we’re back with “Why I Partner With Stelter” with another look into our clients’ wins.
The series, which we started in December with our UNICEF profile, highlights our clients’ success and growth in planned giving as a result of teaming up with Stelter.
Today, Jeremy Stelter, Executive Vice President, highlights our 11-year partnership with the Los Angeles Jewish Home, where slow and steady has won the race.
IN THEIR CORNER
A large part of this mutual success story lies in the notion of what comprises a strong partnership: Each entity bringing their own strengths to the table, freeing up the other to do what they naturally do best.
For Aaron Levinson, Planned Giving Director since 2010 at the Jewish Home, that means having the time to interact with donors and prospects. “My strengths are with people; I’m better off talking to donors,” he says. A typical day, if there is one in planned giving, finds Aaron making phone calls, visits and follow-up calls to trustees, attorneys and the like—generally involved in donors’ everyday lives as much as helping plan their legacies.
For the Stelter team, that meant taking a position behind the scenes, orchestrating the planned giving marketing much like the Wizard of Oz, so every piece speaks as one and motivates the audience toward action. “Stelter has the whole team to strategize for me, which takes a big burden off of me. They’re in my corner, doing a lot of heavy lifting, so I can get to the work I need to do,” Aaron says.
Steady and Strong Growth
Eleven years ago, Aaron inherited the Jewish Home’s planned giving program, which was relatively new and consisted of sending a newsletter to donors and prospects three times a year.
The process, though “consistent” with regular newsletter sends, felt outdated and isolated. While the Jewish Home sent the newsletter three times a year, there was nothing in between to tie the planned giving message altogether or keep it top of donors’ minds. Rather, the marketing was in isolated drips, opposed to a steady flow to educate donors and organically build a willingness to explore a planned gift.
“Jeremy (and the Stelter team) really challenged me to think of my program differently, as a whole rather than individual pieces. Things that you haven’t thought of, they’re thinking of. They’re always thinking ahead,” Aaron says.
With a mutual commitment to long-term planned giving growth, the Stelter team first set about expanding the Jewish Home’s digital presence. This included a robust planned giving website that not only explained gift types, but also positioned the Jewish Home as a trusted, expert resource. Quarterly emails, along with special digital and print mailings on individual topics, dove deeper into giving vehicles and benefits.
Additionally, Stelter repositioned the Jewish Home’s planned giving marketing to focus on missional impact and integrated a mix of print pieces that spoke to time-honored giving strategies as well as of-the-moment charitable giving topics (CARES Act and COVID).
Most important, each piece focused on educating the Jewish Home’s donor base and tied to the others using the same well-written voice and branded images for a cohesive, intentional message. For example, a printed four-page newsletter offered an article about the importance of leaving a legacy and was followed by a targeted email about beneficiary designations—each piece tied to the whole planned giving impact.
Details Make the Difference
In place of stock photography, the Jewish Home also began using its own photos to tell the story that only they own. Making an effort to capture these people, places and events in photos stirs desire among donors to be part of that story, along with a sense of belonging and wish to continue the Jewish Home’s mission.
DOUBLING GIFTS FOR GREATER IMPACT
In part through the Stelter team’s leadership, the Jewish Home’s program has grown from $2-$3 million annually in mature planned gifts to $5 million today.
Forty-plus new members join its legacy society every year to keep the group consistently at about 300 members. “Every year (since Stelter’s come on board), it’s grown,” Aaron says.
LOYALTY THROUGH THE STORM
Bright spots continue to emerge among the progress. Last year at the onset of the pandemic, when the fear was that donors would pull back with their giving, the Jewish Home received a six-figure gift as a result of a charitable gift annuity (CGA) direct mailing.
While it’s typically more challenging to get good response rates from CGA marketing, this gift falls in line with a recent report from The Chronicle of Philanthropy about an uptick in giving during the pandemic. Even more, it speaks to the Jewish Home’s consistent, thoughtful planned giving marketing strategy; one that has evolved into a donor base that will weather any storm and fully understands how their gift (no matter what type or size) will make a lasting impact.
Straight From the Source
Read more about what Aaron Levinson says about the Jewish Home’s partnership with Stelter in our case study, “A Good Foundation.”