Gift Planning for Small Fundraising Operations

Gift Planning for Small Fundraising Operations

From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.
-Aeschylus

If you are a two-person or even one-person shop, it may feel like launching a gift planning program is an impossible task.  But small charities can take steps to receive planned gifts and even increase the number of planned gifts they receive.

Know the basics. Do you know the basics of gift planning?

  • Gift planning is defined as the integration of a donor’s charitable goals with their estate, financial, and tax planning. Gifts that mature when a donor passes, or charitable bequests, are the most common types of planned gifts.
  • Charitable bequests, or gifts from a will, trust, retirement plan, or similar instrument that mature at the donor’s passing account for roughly 95% of dollars received from matured planned gifts.
  • Impact of gift planning: Charitable bequests accounted for over $30B in giving over the last 4 years. If you aren’t asking for those gifts, another charity will.

Add bequest language to your website. Make sure you have up-to-date language to make a charitable bequest and gifts from a retirement plan on your website and that it is easy to find.

Open for business. Add an option for donors to notify your charity of their planned gift to annual solicitations. Why does it matter if you know about a deferred gift for your organization?  Because bequests and retirement plan beneficiary designations are revocable– meaning the donor can change them at any time.  So, reinforcing the value and impact of planned gifts confirms for your donors that their gifts have meaning and purpose. You will need to have a mechanism for acknowledging the notifications you receive.

Steward your donors. Send an acknowledgement as soon as you receive notification of a new planned gift.  Many organizations have a gift planning recognition society; if you have one, send a letter informing the donor that they are now part of the society.  Include in your letter the impact either that planned gifts have had at the organization, or the impact gifts have overall.  Send a letter annually to members to share new impact stories. If you do not have a separate giving society, consider creating one.

Create a gift planning program.  Small can be mighty.  Consider a program assessment to look at your readiness to launch a gift planning program; you may be further along than you think or can learn the steps you and leadership need to put in place to position yourself to receive some of that estimated $40 trillion in wealth transfer over the next 30 years.