1. Talk at the proper level.
Gift planning can appeal to everyone from those who have diligently worked a lifetime to accumulate assets to those who inherited wealth or have amassed a large nest egg almost in spite of themselves.
Effective communications should recognize both extremes as well as the middle, where perhaps the majority of your older donors lie. Include non-technical materials of general interest for those who may not be interested in the details of how gift plans work. Identify those with deeper interest in the workings of the plans and in tax motivations and send different materials to them.
As segmentation of lists becomes easier, recognize that your donors are individuals and approach them according to their interests. (See information about SharpeNet Data Services).
2. Help them see gift planning as a part of their lives.
Above everything else, gift planning creates opportunities. Make those opportunities the subjects of your communications.
Rather than telling your audience how a charitable remainder trust works, for example, show what it can do: make possible a more comfortable retirement, enable you to save money now and allow you to give while making funds available for a child’s college education, for instance.
Giving in memory of or as a tribute to others is also a powerful motivator for many people. The idea of having one’s name and influence live in perpetuity is something of value few can offer.
3. Be available.
Whether staff members have time to visit donors or simply to be accessible by phone, be sure that people know whom to contact if they have questions or wish to talk.
Consider having business cards with larger type to share with older constituents. Make sure your office staff knows to whom calls from prospective donors should be directed. Your office phone system should also be easy for callers to use. Mechanical difficulties should never stand in the way of a person wanting to make a gift.