In early 1958, my father and uncle came up with an awesome plan to take my younger brother, cousins and me on a road trip out west. The interstate system was in its infancy, so the idea was to make our way to Route 66 outside of St. Louis and then travel to California.
We needed three things for a successful journey and back-up plans for any mid-course corrections. First—and most importantly—we purchased road maps to know the landscape and evaluate alternative routes (which informed the decision to follow what Steinbeck described as the “Mother Road” of America). We checked the road maps frequently to make sure we didn’t get lost and updated the route for as needed whenever we stopped for gas.
Second, we needed dependable transportation for the adventure. We got new station wagons—a Plymouth and a Chevy with rear seats that folded flat. (Kemmons Wilson had created the concept of the roadside motel a few years earlier, but we couldn’t guarantee we would “find room in the Holiday Inn”; therefore we needed eating and sleeping alternatives.)
Our fallback to finding acceptable dining and lodging was to sleep in the station wagons. My mother and aunt sewed together a tent that would spread between the wagons. A camp stove and table were built for meals. At the time, McDonalds was still in its infancy, and most roadside eating joints were questionable at best. Looking back, I see this adventure as a mid-20th century approach to the wagon trains going west in the 1800s.
The adventure was a tremendous success and made for wonderful memories.
This reminds me that beginning a planned giving program, evaluating a current program or expanding the program goals is much like planning a successful road trip. The formula to follow is basically the same as the one my father and uncle followed.
Are you still on course? Is a detour necessary or required? Is it time to make a mid-course correction relating to donors, staff or communication methods?
Now is the time to review and renew your large gift development plan, re-evaluate which donors to engage, revise or expand your donor communication approaches, evaluate your staff’s strengths and then maximize them.
I believe most, if not all, planned giving professionals know what must be accomplished in starting, evaluating or expanding a planned giving program. The challenge is whether an organization has the tools and technologies or knowledge of how to use them to successfully navigate their journey.
Sharpe Group exists to provide tools and knowledge to help nonprofit organizations accomplish their goals more quickly, more efficiently and more effectively. Spring is here; what better time to reevaluate, refresh or renew your development plan for raising large gifts?