From a donor’s perspective…


From a donor’s perspective…

Last week, my colleague Michelle wrote about the importance of staying in touch with our donors (and our thirteen year-old daughters!), especially now when we can’t gather in person regularly. I couldn’t agree more with Michelle and today offer a reflection from the donor perspective.

This past week, my husband and I participated in a Zoom gathering for a planned giving society of which we are members, for a nonprofit based in Virginia. We’ve supported this nonprofit that “strives to inspire and empower children, families, and early childhood professionals to reach their full potential, whatever their challenges,” since 1991, when the organization took a chance on me as a young professional and hired me as its first-ever director of development. We became members of the planned giving society in 2000 when we included the organization in our will.

Over the years, we’ve gotten regular mail updates from the organization and the occasional phone call and email thanking us for our support. We’ve also been invited to the annual celebration of the planned giving society but, since it is held in Virginia, have never attended. This year, since it was held on Zoom, we were in! Honestly, I was excited to participate simply to see the faces of old friends. I didn’t expect much more beyond that. What I found by the end of the 40-minute call was a re-commitment to supporting the organization – I was blown away by the creativity, ingenuity and tenacity of the staff members who have found ways to continue to provide critical services safely during these times. And I was struck by what they said they’d learned in having to make so many changes with virtually no warning.

The format of the call was pretty simple and obviously worked well. We were promised ahead of time the call would last no more than 40 minutes. About 24 people total participated, including donors, board members and staff. After signing on, we each briefly introduced ourselves (names only) and were welcomed by the couple who chairs the giving society. They thanked us, spoke for a few minutes about the importance of the organization and our support, and turned it over to the executive director. He then gave a high-level update on happenings during the past six months, and introduced the director of children’s services who gave a more specific update. The ED then opened it up to questions – and, after an awkward pause, there were some good ones. Finally, the ED recognized the newest members of the society and presented them virtually with a plaque (which would then be hand-delivered to homes). To close, at the 39-minute mark, the host couple thanked us and we all bid farewell.

Zoom is surely not the ideal way to engage donors, but the call left me feeling more committed to the organization – and also underscored Michelle’s message: now more than ever, keep in touch with your donors.

by: Molly Galo, Senior Consultant HPS Chicago

The Boomer Boom



The Boomer Boom

Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964.  In 2019, they range in age from 55 to 73.  They comprise about 24% of the U.S. population.  They have been getting attention their whole lives.  Every sector of the economy has marketed to them, through radio, television and now technology.  For fundraisers, it’s important to realize that the Baby Boomers are in the prime of their giving years.  It’s not an overstatement to say that right now we are in the midst of the Baby Boomer Boom.

Your nonprofit organization should be paying attention to the Boomer Boom.  They expect nothing less!  Here are a few fun facts and actions for you to consider:

  • 72% of Baby Boomers give to charity, averaging $1212 per year across 4.5 organizations. Boomers are very generous, but selective in the number of organizations that have their attention.  Boomers must be thanked for their gifts, recognized for their gifts, and when appropriate honored for their gifts.  Establish a communication plan with your Boomer donors, and give them multiple contacts throughout the year, not all of which are requests for donations.  Make your organization stand out among the others to which the Boomers have donated.
  • 71% of Baby Boomers volunteer locally. It is hard to overstate the importance of this collective effort.  The Boomer Boom makes up the backbone of volunteerism in the United States.  Your nonprofit organization should be providing multiple and substantial opportunities for Boomers to volunteer.  Again, realize that if they are making generous gifts to just four or five organizations, it really should not be too hard for you to make your organization stand out with meaningful volunteer opportunities that solidify your place in their hearts.
  • Half of all Baby Boomers make recurring donations, leading all groups of donors. Make sure you are providing opportunities for recurring donations at multiple levels.  And make sure you specifically ask Boomers for recurring donations.  And this is also an indication that Boomers are technologically savvy, so make sure your giving opportunities are many and seamless.
  • Your biggest planned gifts will come from the Boomer Boom. Have a consistent and well thought out plan to ask Boomers to consider an estate gift to your organization.  The oldest Boomers are just now beginning to seriously contemplate their legacy.  They will dominate planned giving for the next quarter century!  Be prepared, be organized, and be very direct in your outreach to your Boomer donors, who will be the source of your largest gifts in the years to come.

The Boomer Boom is real and it will be with us a while.  Fundraisers who pay attention to this huge market segment will see the results of thoughtful and purposeful attention.

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Legacy Giving: Essential for Your Non-Profit


Legacy Giving: Essential for Your Non-Profit

True story: a non-profit that I worked for courted a prospective donor over a 30 year period. He was a man of considerable wealth, but not a household name or a celebrity. We did a lot of the right things with this gentleman. We visited with him in his office and took an interest in his work. We asked him to serve on an advisory board. He served briefly on our board of directors. We honored him at dinners and recognized his contributions to the community with an award. We asked him for a major gift. He was gracious and courteous and responsive.

Over the thirty year period, he made donations totaling just over $7,000 to our organization. We were grateful, but we knew he was capable of much more. We continued to thank him and keep him informed. Eventually, the man died, and we learned that he had bequeathed us a 2.5% share of his estate. His final gift was worth over $1.5 million dollars!

Most people will make the largest gift of their lives during what they perceive to be the last years of their life. Smart development officers like you are asking consistent donors to make a legacy gift! Here are a few suggestions on how to maximize your opportunities for planned gifts:

* Create multiple touch points for legacy giving: use direct mail, your website, and your personal visits to let your donors know that you are seeking estate gifts. Whenever possible, insert a sentence on all relevant print materials (even letters) asking people to “remember (name of non-profit) in your estate plan.”

* Keep it simple: by far the most common kinds of estate gifts come from donors who simply designate the non-profit organization as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, or who add a sentence or two to their will bequeathing the non-profit a dollar amount or a percentage of their estate. Remind your donors to consult with their attorney or tax professional, but don’t forget to provide them with concrete examples of how easy it is to make an estate gift.

* Organize a legacy giving society: ask people to let you know when they make an estate gift to you, and ask their permission to share their decision as an example for others. Name these donors on your website, and host an annual gathering of your legacy donors where you celebrate their collective generosity.

* Use testimonials: use the words of your donors to tell others how good it feels to make a legacy gift. Publish these testimonials in your materials. Ask them to speak at a board meeting and to inspire others to join your legacy society. And of course, celebrate the impact of planned gifts on your organization when they are realized.

Looking back, we did a lot of things correctly with that gentleman. As far as I know, we never asked him for an estate gift. But sometimes, our donors know exactly what they want to do with their legacy. Don’t forget that we are in this for the long haul! Help your donors think long term about your mission. Some of the largest gifts in the history of your non-profit await you.

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Memorial Gifts


Do you work with your donors to memorialize their loved ones through charitable giving? You should! But don’t begin to do so without giving careful thought how to approach the subject and how to structure the investment opportunities.

It goes without saying that people are in a most vulnerable state after the passing of a loved one. It is not the time for fundraisers to suggest memorial gifts. However, when initiated by the donor or a family member, memorial gifts present an opportunity that should not be ignored.

I once received a call from a gentleman I did not know whose wife (a donor of ours) had passed away earlier that year. He told me how much our organization meant to his late wife, and he asked if we could meet to discuss memorial opportunities. We agreed to meet over lunch. At that lunch I listened as he described their long marriage and her lifelong career as a nurse. It was through her career that she was connected to our organization. Our next meeting was on site at our charity. There were more lunch meetings, and the man and I became friends. After several months, we agreed to structure a memorial to his late wife through the naming of a nursing laboratory, for which the man made a major gift to purchased new equipment for the lab. There was a heartfelt dedication of the lab, now named for his wife, that meant everything to man. The lab was a testament to his wife, her career, and their loving and lasting relationship with each other and with our organization.

That was a very unusual gift, because the whole idea was initiated by the donor. And of course, fundraisers should not wait for the phone to ring! Here are a few ideas about how to create opportunities for memorial gifts, and how to structure a program of memorial giving.

* Think ahead. People make charitable gifts, and people do not live forever. Cultivate lifelong relationships with your donors, and make sure you recognize those who have made your charity a priority in their lifetime. Let them know how much you value their longtime support, and how special they are to your mission.

* Structure your legacy program. Make sure that you have opportunities to name places, scholarships, events and mission activity. Create a legacy society that has established criteria for membership such as level of gift or kind of gift. Tell the stories of your memorial gifts and let them be known through your website and written materials.

* Make a variety of vehicles for giving available. Ask your donors during their lifetime to name your charity as beneficiary of a life insurance policy or of an asset. Show them the benefits of a Charitable Gift Annuity or a Charitable Remainder Trust. Show your older donors the tax benefits to them of an IRA Charitable Rollover. And help your donors understand the benefits of a Donor Advised Fund. These are just a few ways to memorialize a loved one while providing benefits to both the donor and to your charity.

Most people make the largest gift of their lifetime during what they believe to be the last years of their life. Make sure you have a clear and compelling message about the importance of memorial gifts to your charity. Some of your donors will welcome the opportunity to think with you about how a memorial to a loved one can enable your organization to help others.

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D. Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

Planned Gifts=Lifelong relationships

planned gift

by George Rattin, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions

I have learned several important lessons by receiving planned gifts. My first experience receiving a planned gift was early in my Development Career.  I reacted like many inexperienced development officers and celebrated as if this was an unexpected Christmas gift from a stranger.  What I soon learned was quite to the contrary.  Though it was true that this gift was unexpected and cause for celebration, it did not come from a stranger. It was a very intentional final gift made by a regular supporter of our organization as a way to show, even in death, his support.  I later learned that it was the urging of his estate planning lawyer that caused this donor to consider supporting organizations important to him during his life with a planned gift made through his estate plan.

  1. Lesson #1 – Planned Gifts are the result of an estate plan.  Who is informing our donors about these possibilities?

Later in my career, I had the opportunity to meet a woman and develop a relationship with her because she had not only made a provision to support the organization in her estate plan, but she also told the organization.  I have learned to appreciate this last point–telling the institution.  By informing us of her estate plans, we had the opportunity to learn what was important to her and why she supported my organization. Over time we learned events were not important to her.  She wouldn’t attend and was not interested. However, stopping by for cup of coffee (and bringing along some sweet rolls) and discussing what was new in her life and in the life of the organization was important and showed this donor that she had indeed invested with a group that shared her interest and wanted to develop a mutual relationship.

2. Lesson #2 – Ask your donors to let you know when they have put your organization in their estate plan.  Then establish a relationship that meets the donors needs as well as your organizations.  The donor has already let you know his/her intention.  How will you show that donor that they have made a smart investment with an organization that listens, appreciates and is interested in more than just the gift?

Later in my career, I learned to be more proactive and established several planned giving programs at organizations I served.  I learned that it is important to share information. Share, not only the fact that you have a program, but also how a donor might benefit from making a planned gift for your organization.  Then follow this up with real stories of those who have done the same.  Communication is key to seeking planned gifts.  Not only should you share information, but you should ask people to let you know if they are interested in learning more.  Do this in print.  Do this during face-to-face visits.  Just do this!

3. Lesson #3 – Two-way communication is key.  Provide information that shows the impact and benefits to the donor and organization of making a planned gift and ask your constituents if they are interested in learning more about this subject.

Planned gifts can transform organizations, but they can also provide great satisfaction to donors.  Gifts made through estate plans can often allow people to make gifts they were unable to during their lifetime or to make capstone gifts that underscore those causes most important to them throughout their life.  If you focus on an understanding that planned gifts come from careful and thoughtful planning, asking people to let you know and focusing on building a relationship that is donor-centered and two-way, you will be off to a good start and will be able to provide a great gift to your supporters

Let us know what planned giving lessons you have learned by responding to the post.



Tips for using a planned giving committee


pg committee

In a recent article in the Nonprofit Times, author John Elbare, MBA, CFP provides a good read map for the proper usage of a Planned Giving Committee. His suggestion is to apply good volunteer recruitment strategies, just as you use when seeking other Board and committee members.  He supplies the following common mistakes to avoid and best practices:

Avoiding Common Mistakes

  • Giving the committee members too little or too much to do;
  • Having an unclear or vague sense of purpose;
  • Not scheduling meetings at least one year in advance;
  • Expecting your committee members to raise the planned gifts;
  • Expecting the committee to run itself without much staff support;
  • Expecting your committee members to be planned giving experts;
  • Expecting your committee members to obtain gifts from their own clients;
  • Not educating the members about gift planning ethics;
  • Allowing volunteers to promote products or services;
  • Expecting members to provide free professional services; and,
  • Not keeping the work of the committee fun and interesting.

Best Practices

There are guidelines to keep in mind as you develop your committee. Here are a few ideas to keep it interesting:

  • Meet only two or three times each year and make the meetings interesting. Consider offering a CE credit presentation on a planned giving topic;
  • Publish a directory of your planned giving committee members and make it available to your volunteers, donors, and board members;
  • Get out and visit each member at least once a year, building a personal relationship. Ask each member for some advice at least once a year;
  • Recognize your committee members with plaques or certificates. List them on your website and in your publications;
  • Invite them to all of your significant events. Suggest that they use your events to entertain their clients; and,
  • Treat your committee members like VIPs in your organization.

Planned Giving Committees can serve as a great resource to your planned giving program lending both legitimacy and expertise to your organization.  Doing the preparation prior to launching a committee with clear expectations, will allow for the best results and most successful programs.