How to Secure a Budget for Planned Giving (Psst: It Pays for Itself)

Budget season brings all kinds of stress…not to mention an obsession with Excel formulas and Google presentations.

But, with 2023 on the horizon, it pays—apologies for the pun—to think critically about budgets. It’s especially savvy to lay out a strategy for securing a budget for planned giving marketing.

The Opportunity

We keep talking about The Great Wealth Transfer. It may feel like something happening in the future, down the road, over the next 25 years. Truth is, financial advisors and tax advisors can tell you it’s already underway. Households across the country are making the necessary investment, tax and estate planning decisions to preserve their wealth and their legacies.

The story in numbers:

  • $68 trillion will be transferred to Gen X and Millennial children from their parents over the coming years (CNBC)

The planned giving opportunity:

  • Legacy giving from the wealthy averages 20, 50 or 100 years of annual giving (Dr. Russell James)

Oh, and planned giving efforts boost annual giving efforts. Dr. Russell James published research in 2020 that showed how annual giving goes up after a donor creates a planned estate gift.

Share these statistics and stories with the decision-makers at your organization. Challenge them with the real question: Is our planned giving budget as robust as it needs to be to reap the rewards of the coming years and to make sure your mission is not left behind?

How to Demonstrate ROI

Showing ROI to leadership is another key to establishing or increasing your marketing budget.

Let’s take a look at a simple ROI table example that shows the immense potential of focusing resources on planned giving.

The assumptions:

  • 500 total planned giving prospects
  • 10% conversion rate*
  • Average gift of $100,000
  • For every reported bequest (your hand raisers), there are two unreported
Total ProspectsHand RaisersTotal Hand Raiser Gift ValueUnreported GiversTotal Unreported Giver Gift ValueTotal Pipeline

*You should not expect a 10% conversion rate from any one campaign. This represents a partnership with the prospect through marketing, stewarding and relationship-building.

So by this simple math, marketing to those 500 prospects will result in $15 million in the door.

You can add a layer of detail by dividing the prospects by age and considering how many years it will be until the gift is realized (the older the donor, the sooner the realization). That can help you temper expectations that $15 million will be in-hand directly following your marketing.

There are other ways to measure ROI for planned giving. For example:

  • Track leading indicators such as response rates and planned gift intentions.
  • You can also dive deeper into your data, segment prospect pools and examine generational groups or marketing channels.

The National Standards for Gift Planning Success (NSGPS) also provides a framework for advancing your planned giving program, calculating ROI over the long-term and ensuring accountability to donors and the public. The place to start for ROI measurement tools is the page on Ability and Capacity to Execute.

In the struggle to find marketing dollars, demonstrating ROI is key. With some meaningful stats behind you, you can give leadership the confidence to support your valuable work.

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