The Planned Gift Safety Net in Uncertain Times | Sharpe Group
Posted May 18th, 2023

The Planned Gift Safety Net in Uncertain Times

Most people make charitable gifts to worthy causes and organizations that they believe do good work or with missions they are passionate about.

Experienced fundraisers understand that larger gifts, whether current or deferred, do not occur without forethought. Many committed donors wish that they could give more; however, a variety of personal concerns can disrupt their giving plans. This is particularly true for current gifts. Economic, tax, health, social and political uncertainty can all impact charitable giving in a variety of ways.

With overall fundraising declining last year, these concerns are continuing to impact philanthropy.

For donors who are reluctant to make gifts now, make sure they are aware of options for gifts over time (pledges/monthly), noncash gifts, QCDs, blended gifts and planned gifts.

Many fundraisers are concerned that marketing planned giving will negatively impact current giving. The academic research by Russell James and others indicates the opposite is true and that planned giving donors continue to make and even increase their current giving.

Consider this: Organizations that have established planned giving programs often receive 20% to 30% more of their gift revenue from planned gifts, mainly through relatively simple arrangements like charitable bequests and beneficiary designations.

History also indicates that planned gifts are especially important during times of economic downturns and hardship. Planned gift revenue continues during these times and can help create a bridge to better times for general giving. In fact, The New York Times noted this trend in increased bequest revenue to colleges and universities during the Great Depression nearly 100 years ago.

While it may seem counterintuitive, data has shown that planned giving programs are even more essential during difficult economic times than in good times. If you aren’t actively marketing and soliciting planned gifts, it’s time to start. And if you have an existing planned giving program in place, consider expanding your messaging channels and make sure your basic data (age & wealth estimates) are fresh. Now is the time to expand your outreach beyond your most usual prospects.

Sharpe consultants have the experience and expertise to help you determine how to ensure your organization won’t be forgotten during the Great Wealth Transfer that is currently underway. For many donors, the choice may not be between making a current gift or a planned gift but may be between making a planned gift or no gift at all.

For more information on how we might help you enhance your fundraising efforts through a planned giving approach, simply contact us at, or call us at 800.342.2375

By: Barlow Mann, JD

Interested in more?

Sharpe Group has tools to help you create a multi-tiered planned giving strategy including:

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