Posted November 3rd, 2016

Creative Ways to Integrate Current and Future Gift Marketing

Combining the wisdom for developing new idea.

Suggestions for marketing future gifts along with gifts that produce immediate benefit.

Your development efforts don’t have to become a battle between encouraging gifts today and promoting those that will be completed over time. With a little ingenuity, the two concepts can be successfully communicated at the same time. Here are the pros and cons of several ideas for marketing seemingly conflicting gift options in a cooperative, rather than competing, fashion:

Use planned giving inserts in gift receipts and donor acknowledgments.

Pro: Your planned giving message reaches all active donors at a time when they have just made a decision to support your mission. As this communication is part of a “thank you” rather than an “ask,” it offers an excellent opportunity to be of service in suggesting ways to make gifts that feature additional benefits for the donor and the charitable recipient.

Con: Your message reaches some donors who are not at the stage in life where estate gifts are appropriate and may not reach those who have recently lapsed and may be at the very point in life when they are making plans for bequests and other gifts from their estates. This is why this approach is not a complete alternative to traditional focused planned gift marketing.

Publish planned giving ads and articles in other organizational publications.

Pro: A cost-effective way to educate constituents on various gift planning opportunities.

Con: Due to the limited space and the broad audience of many organizational magazines and program newsletters, a planned giving ad or article will need to be very general and it may not be appropriate to focus on some of the more specialized planned gift vehicles available. The natural audience for bequests, charitable gift annuities and other gifts may be relatively narrow. While you may like to use dollar amounts in examples, it can be a challenge not to “overshoot” or “undershoot” your market with examples that are too large or too small for readers, as the case may be.

Distribute planned giving materials at board meetings and special events.

Pro: You have a captive and generally highly motivated audience that is interested in your organization and ways they can help it.

Con: Your audience members may be younger than the typical planned gift donor or may be considering current gifts. Therefore, they may not be at the right point in their lives to consider long-term gifts or may be distracted from plans for gifts that would otherwise be received in the near term–so stay low-key.

Add planned gift tag lines to your stationery.

Pro: Including a phrase such as “Consider including ________ in your will or trust” on your letterhead and other appropriate communications pieces reminds donors that planned gifts are welcomed and appreciated by your organization.

Con: The phrase may not fit in with your current stationery design or may have to be printed in a very small type, which would make it less effective for older readers.

In current gift solicitations, use wallet flap envelopes that include check-off requests for gift planning information.

Pro: This can convey your planned giving message in a format that should not compete with solicitation of current gifts. The reader will typically not encounter the message in this format until after the decision to make a current gift has been made and the envelope is being utilized to send a check. The same principal applies after a donor has given online as the final step in the process of online gift completion.

Con: Some may believe that any such appeal will conflict with the primary current gift appeal. Wallet flap envelopes can be more costly than regular return envelopes, and the response rate may be generally low. The online version of this approach only occurs after the gift has been completed and funds transferred so this issue may be less of a concern in that case.■

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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