Posted November 1st, 2010

The Case of Missing Intentions

Important Information May Be Hiding Away

Do your colleagues in other departments understand what you do and know how their work relates to it? Before you answer, consider the following example.

Several years ago, we asked the director of a newly formed planned giving program how many bequest notifications had been received. “As a matter of fact, none,” came the answer. “The legal department doesn’t know of any, and we haven’t received any either.”

Realizing how unlikely it would be for such a prominent organization never to have received notification of a bequest intention from a donor or a donor’s attorney, we suggested taking a closer look.

Filed away

Several weeks later, a file of such notifications was indeed found—in the legal department. Not realizing that the development department would have any reason to be interested, staff members in that department simply filed the correspondence away. After all, no “real money” had been received. From where they stood, there was nothing to do—or document.

Excellent prospects

As experienced gift planning executives know, those who have made it known that they have planned bequests can be excellent prospects for other types of giving. At the very least, these donors should be thanked for their future gift.

This true story shows how easy it is for departments within an organization to operate in isolation from one another. The moral: Don’t assume others view things as you do. Make a continual effort to educate others and acknowledge the importance of teamwork in the overall success of funding efforts.

The publisher of Give & Take is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Give & Take may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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