How to Start a Conversation
on Planned Giving

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

Most fundraisers work to secure cash gifts from donors in order to reach the annual revenue goals of their organizations. But if you are not providing donors with the idea or option to make a planned gift, you may leaving money on the table.

But how do you start a conversation about planned gifts with donors or prospects?

In the March 2010 edition of Fundraising Success Magazine, Alexandra Brovey and Patrick Roenigk, propose the following questions to get you started:

  1. How old are you?
  2. How long have you been married?
  3. Do you have any children/grandchildren?
  4. What prompted you to give to [nonprofit] in the past?
  5. What makes [nonprofit] special to you/your family?
  6. Where does giving to charity in general fit in your life?
  7. Have you thought of the legacy that you want to leave?
  8. Have you ever explored the idea of a “planned gift”?
  9. Do you have a will?
  10. Has your adviser ever asked you about your charitable intentions?

And here are some other general questions to ascertain what the donor values:

  • In your opinion, what other charitable organizations are effective?
  • How and why have you settled on your life’s work?
  • What are the guiding principles that have helped you achieve goals in your life?
  • To what extent does our organization’s mission connect with those principles? How so?
  • What do you expect from the charitable organizations that you become involved with?
  • How have other organizations demonstrated to you the impact of your giving?
  • How do you like organizations to demonstrate their appreciation for gifts you have made?

At a time when many donors are feeling the effects of the economic downturn, planned gifts are a way to help them achieve their philanthropic priorities and remain involved in your organization.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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