Securing Planned Gifts:
The Ultimate Expression
of Your Donor Relationship

David Kulivan Senior Consultant AC Fitzgerald Author

David Kulivan, Senior Consultant

Initiating a conversation with your donors about bequest giving can seem like the third rail of fundraising. After all, who wants to discuss death, and contemplate their own mortality? Handled the right way, though, this conversation doesn’t have to be a moves management minefield. With some solid preparation and a thorough understanding of your donor’s goals, you can position your organization for planned giving success.

  • Understand your donor’s interests and motivations. While this is important during any type of solicitation, it has greater significance during planned giving conversations. This is where your database and record-keeping really pay off. Has a major event occurred in the donor’s life? Have they recently become grandparents? Look for important life milestones that can be useful during your visit to discuss their values, vision, and legacy.
  • Start simply. Make the barrier to entry low so that the program seems accessible and participation feels intuitive. Though you may accept complicated giving vehicles like charitable remainder trusts, begin the discussion with simpler methods of supporting the organization, like a simple bequest or modifications to a life insurance policy to include your organization as a beneficiary.
  • Become a better listener. Planned giving conversations may be more nuanced than a solicitation for a cash gift, so listen for clues on how a donor wishes to ensure that his or her values are preserved far into the future.
  • Learn about who else may be involved in their decision. Do they have adult children who play a role in their financial decisions? Is there a trusted financial advisor or estate planning attorney who provides counsel? Be cognizant of these situations and prepared to include others in the giving conversation.

A planned gift is the ultimate expression of donor loyalty, but securing one requires some introspective appraisal. Specifically, has your organization been loyal to its donors? Do they only hear from you when it’s time for another ask? Or do they feel valued and appreciated throughout the year as a partner in your efforts? Review your stewardship and relationship management strategies and consider refining them as you pursue planned gifts.

Bequest conversations don’t have to be nerve-wracking. Let the experts at AC Fitzgerald help you prepare for planned giving success.

David Kulivan serves as Senior Consultant at AC Fitzgerald. He uses his expertise in development strategy, relationship management, and corporate partnerships to fast-track his clients toward success.

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