Do You Want 85% of the Market?

85% of all fundraisers are clueless about, or intimidated by, planned giving.

That may not be spot on but it’s close.

What a shame.  85% of all planned gifts made every year come from plain old wills and bequests.

Simple.  Easy to understand.

Gifts from the donor’s will, planned for now, to be made in the future, are so easy to understand, that’s why donors love them!  And use them.  Far more than any other planned gift vehicle that you pretty much don’t need to worry about.

Because if you focus on inviting your donors to remember your organization in their will you’ll capture 85% of your planned gifts potential.

Pretty good, huh?

When donors think about remembering your organization in their will they have three options.

They can gift you with a specific dollar amount or other specific asset such as their home, IRA, coin collection, etc.

They can plan to leave you with a percentage of their estate.

Or, they can say that your organization will receive “the rest, residue and remainder of my estate” or a percentage therefrom.  That means, whatever is left over after all specific bequests have been made. It’s a good thing.

In our Snazzy Seven Steps to a Solid Bequests Program we’ve talked about your website, a modest printed piece to leave with or mail to a donor, making sure you have the proper language to remember your organization handy and available to all staff, and extending that invitation over and over again at the bottom of your letterhead.

Let’s round it out with Steps 5-7.

Five: Imagine this: One day, an older couple sits down with their attorney, CPA or financial advisor.  That professional asks, “As we prepare your estate plan, do you want to make any provisions for a gift to charity?”  They answer, “Yes, but we really don’t have any specific organizations in mind.  Can you recommend one that we might like to support?”

You want the next words out of that professional’s mouth to be the name of your organization.

Trust me, this happens far, far more often than you can imagine.

So…start a planned giving advisory group for your organization.  There are no meetings, which the membership will love.  There are two duties the members agree to fulfill.  One, when the opportunity presents, they will mention your organization as a possible bequest intention to their clients.  Two, when a donor approaches you with a question about another planned gift vehicle, such as a charitable trust, your advisory group member(s) will offer you counsel and, perhaps, represent your interests pro bono with the donor.

Six: Ask!  Ask a donor, when appropriate, if she or he would consider remembering your organization in their will or estate plan.  Ask this way:

“Mary, I know you care a great deal about our organization and what we do.  When the time is right, may we have a conversation about your remembering us in your will or estate plan?”

It’s important to bear in mind that thinking about their estate is not something your donors are eager to do, for the obvious reasons.  By asking permission to discuss this gift at a time the donor deems best, you are leaving the control of the matter in their hands.

But you’re asking, just the same.

Seven: Very few donors want to be “the lead dog on the sled.”  Most donors are glad to know they join others in supporting you.  Start a club of those who have indicated to you, in writing, that they’ve included a gift to your organization in their will or estate plan.  They can indicate their planned bequest to you, or not.  Their choice.  Bring them some small token of club membership when you stop by to thank them, make sure they’re “in the loop” for inside scoops about your organization and invite them to a breakfast or a luncheon in their honor once a year.

That’s it.  Sound simple?  Sound like something you can do?  That’s the idea!

Next time, the amazing true story a bequest that came, like many do, from out of the blue.

Have a good day, my friends.


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