Planned giving – also known as legacy giving – is a program that cultivates long-term donor engagement in the sustainability of your non-profit. It is a donation that is set up in the present but not received until a future date. It is most often a gift designated in a donor’s will and often given to the organization when the donor passes away.
The importance of having a planned giving program is a big one as gifts received in this way are often some of the largest donations a non-profit will receive. Interestingly, many non-profits do not invest in staff or other resources to set up such a program. As a result, the organization misses out on receiving substantial donations that can help sustain the non-profit in the years to come.
Granted, there are challenges in knowing definitively if a donor will include your organization in their will. However, there are things you can evaluate to better understand the opportunity that may be present. For example, does a donor consistently support your agency with financial gifts and actively participates in helping bring awareness about your programs to the greater community? If so, these ambassadors may be possible leads for a planned gift.
These types of gifts are typically large ones and the opportunities should not be overlooked. In an article by DonorSearch, there are different phases of the process:
- The Intention – when a donor of your organization advises that they wish to make a gift but it isn’t a binding agreement. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize the generosity of the future gift.
- The Expectation – tracking all the potential gifts helps your organization look at future goals. Many nonprofits use an average amount for a ballpark figure.
- The Notification – when a donor sends word that a gift has been designated in their will. In many cases, you will not know the amount and it is important to keep in touch with the donor.
Types of Gifts
- Real estate, savings, retirement, etc. can be a planned gift and bypass the probate process as the donor can directly give the gift to your nonprofit.
- Securities, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or real property.
- Land, additional property on that land (such as buildings or machinery)
As we move into more in-person ways to connect, there will remain many opportunities to leverage the virtual space to create and build your planned giving program. The strategies remain the same, but the method is different.
With any donor relationship, it is all about communication. By keeping your dedicated supporters updated on how your nonprofit is transitioning into a post-pandemic world, you strengthen that relationship. Perhaps surveying your donors about a variety of topics that are related to your organization’s work in the world and their thoughts on the future of the nonprofit. Here are some other ideas:
- Record a personal video using your phone. Keep it real and personal!
- Set up a special visit with your donor, not a business appointment.
- Tap into your donor’s wisdom – ask for their advice.
- Get to know your donor on a personal level.
As your nonprofit navigates the new terrain of philanthropy, you can still tap into tried and true approaches to create a long-term strategy to keep your biggest supporters engaged in perpetuity through your planned giving program. Start with your strategy, develop authentic relationships, and you are on your way to lasting investment in your nonprofit.