6 Ways Planned Giving Scares Your Donors (And How You Can Ease Their Fears)

Whether you’re a fundraiser guiding your donors through a tricky situation, or a donor scared to look their future (and death) in the eye—let’s face it—planned giving can be a bit frightening. Here are six reasons donors often feel scared about committing to a planned gift and what you can do to ease their fears.

1. They feel intimidated.

Some of the hardest decisions people make are related to their finances. Pair that with the thought of death and, well, you’re fighting an uphill battle. Donors of any age, education or income can feel intimidated by planned giving. The acronyms alone—IRAs, CGAs, CRTs, DAFs—can be enough to scare people away.

That’s where you come in. You’re the trusted friend they bring with them to the haunted house, knowing you won’t let them go astray. Provide education about the different gift types and help them find one that feels right and meets their goals. If you’re feeling a bit rusty, be sure to brush up before your next donor meeting.

2. Your mixed messages are alarming them.

Donors don’t necessarily understand the differences between annual giving, major giving and planned giving. And being contacted for different gifts at different times can leave donors confused and frustrated. (Didn’t I just send you a donation last month?)

Your branding and messaging must be cohesive across all your fundraising marketing, no matter which arm of your nonprofit is sending it. Working together also allows you to cross-promote your programs and ensures you all speak the same language in your donor communications.

3. Too much information can be a killer.

Donor fatigue is real. In the digital age, communication comes cheap and easy—email, social, texts, automated voice messaging—leaving many feeling bombarded.

Be careful not to overdo it. Coordinate your marketing calendar with all your fundraising teams. And consider segmenting your digital and print messaging by age, gender, geography or psychographics so that your communications reach the right audience with the right message.

4. They’re afraid they’ll outlive their savings.

It can be difficult when donors see planned giving as a risk to their security. But you have some tools at your disposal: CGAs and CRTs. Educate them on these types of gifts that will provide them income for life while supporting your work at the same time.

5. Family conflict frightens them.

Let them know you understand; family can be hard. The key is early and forthright communication. Encourage your donors to talk with their families about their giving decisions and why they’ve chosen to support your nonprofit with a planned gift. Welcome family members to events or other activities so they can experience your good work first-hand. Make yourself available whenever family members want more information about your organization.

6. Times are hard.

This is where planned giving shines. A planned gift doesn’t need to cut into a donor’s income or savings today. Explain the options available, such as naming your nonprofit as a beneficiary of an IRA or insurance policy, or leaving you a gift in their will. These options address their inability to give now but allow them to support a cause they care about in the future.

Education, guidance and patience are the keys to helping your donors conquer their fears and feel comfortable and confident in committing to a planned gift.

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