Virtual Staff Training Is Key to Success in Gift Planning | Sharpe Group
Posted September 16th, 2020

Virtual Staff Training Is Key to Success in Gift Planning

By Grant Miller

D’Arcy Steiner is the director of individual giving at World Food Program USA, where she oversees the individual giving team and manages a full portfolio of major gift donors and prospects. In July of this year, D’Arcy and her colleagues attended one of our virtual training events led by John Jensen, a senior vice president and senior consultant at Sharpe Group. The three-day session was fully customized for the World Food Program staff, based on their level of experience, donor base and other factors. Here, D’Arcy shares some of the insights she gained through our virtual training.

Give & Take: Tell me about your planned giving experience.

D’Arcy Steiner: Most recently, I was the director of philanthropy and strategic partnerships at Competitive Enterprise Institute. There, I worked with teams to secure major gifts and partnerships and created long-term cultivation strategies for about 150 different prospects. Overall, I have four years’ experience as a major gift officer. I’ve been the director of individual giving at World Food Program USA for the past year and have experience with planned giving.

Give & Take: What called you to a career in fundraising?

Steiner: I have a passion for personal finance, and I love to match donors with the gifts that will help them make their philanthropic dreams a reality. Gift planning provides so many excellent ways for donors to achieve their goals while supporting organizations that are important and meaningful to them.

Give & Take: How did you hear about the Sharpe Group training?

Steiner: At World Food Program, we wanted to start a planned giving program, and we knew Sharpe Group was a recognized industry leader in group training and could offer us the tools to build a successful program. The training was thoughtful and well-researched, and the experiences John was able to share helped improve my team’s understanding of the various gift planning vehicles, along with the current state of planned giving nationwide.

Give & Take: What did you find most interesting or surprising about the training?

Steiner: I learned so much! For instance, I learned it is not most important to be the charity in a person’s first will but rather the last will. This seemed counterintuitive, and not what I had been told in the past, but it certainly makes sense. I also learned that receiving a remainder of an estate often leads to higher gift amounts. I was surprised to learn that a significant number of planned gifts come from first-time givers. John also talked about how it is essential to highlight our core mission through our marketing strategies to potential planned giving donors. In our case, he emphasized including images of our work with children as these often resonate deeply with that group.

Give & Take: Would you recommend Sharpe Group’s virtual training to other organizations?

Steiner: I highly recommend it! It was the most thorough, well-researched, evidence-based planned giving training I have ever received. John’s combination of experience and documented research truly presented a clear and holistic picture that explained why certain planned gifts are better than others for certain donors. I have never seen or attended another training that is this thorough, yet as highly digestible and immediately helpful.

Give & Take: Due to the pandemic, a lot has changed with how we hold seminars and conferences. Did you find this virtual training format to be productive?

Steiner: Our team of major gifts officers has spent a lot of time on the road, so we were accustomed to working remotely. With the customized format John created for us, including plenty of time for questions and answers, I found this seminar to be just as effective remotely as it would have been in person.

If you would like to learn more about how a Sharpe Group virtual training presentation can help your fundraising staff or board, contact us.

Grant Miller is an editor, working with clients to create custom printed and digital communications. He has authored Sharpe Group blogs and is a contributor to Give & Take.

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