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Posted June 20th, 2018

Working With Older Donors—Part 1

A major area of planned gift fundraising is working with elderly individuals. 

Here some problems to anticipate:

The donor repeatedly over time asks the same question or asks for information you’ve already provided. It’s probably best to provide this individual with a postage-paid envelope addressed to you and ask that he or she communicate with you in writing. Your communications of information to the individual also should be in writing.

The donor, you’ve observed, has been speaking or acting somewhat erratically. If you are going to visit this individual, consider taking along a suitable colleague from your office. You may need a witness, for example, to verify that you didn’t make off with the donor’s will or diamond bracelet.

The donor wants you to be her friend. Maybe she even wants to make gifts to you personally. Be careful here not to do anything that can be painted (say, by the grandson’s lawyer) as undue influence. Being friendly to a donor is of course OK. Being friends with a donor can involve major risks.

The donor wants your organization to give him legal advice or to serve as his executor. Nope.

The donor has one or more bizarre ideas or beliefs but otherwise appears rational. Everyone has weird ideas or beliefs. That doesn’t incapacitate an individual from making a current donation or making a will. If you have any concern on this score, try to make sure, as best you can, that a disinterested and competent lawyer is looking out for the donor’s interests.

More thoughts on all this next time.

For more information, read Part 2.

By Jon Tidd, Esq

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