Looking down a country road during the fall

Planned Giving Sustains Your NonProfit

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.



top of dinner table at a party

Tips for Successful Fundraising Events

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
– Helen Keller

In years past, the fundraising event has become more important to nonprofits as organizations strive to diversify funding streams.  The COVID-10 pandemic provided ample opportunity for those organizations to reinvent how to convene their community in order to raise much needed funds to support programs.

One of those new ventures was the virtual event.  Now that we have a year’s worth of time to reflect upon, here are several tips to help your virtual event be as successful as possible. As we see the world open up to returning to in person events, there will still remain an opportunity to use the virtual space to convene others and generate revenue for your nonprofit. In either case, these tips apply to both types of events.

By spotlighting special guests and supporters, you can leverage social media to amplify these VIPs in a way that they, too, can share the good news about their participation in the event.  You can record short interviews using an app like Zoom to share on all of your channels. 

People at an event enjoying the party

It is imperative to keep the registration and donation process as simple as possible and this includes how you collect the contact information about your guests. By collecting both email addresses and phone numbers, you can reach out to your guests as you approach the event date with important reminders. You also want to offer an easy to navigate donation portal.

Engage with your guests by making the event interactive.  Include a poll, offer opportunities for food delivery, or provide a swag bag filled with sponsored goodies.

Consider hosting a ‘live’ performance for a short amount of time to generate buzz and a sense of urgency to witness something special. You can also provide access to a pre-recorded event so your guests can view it at their leisure.

Some additional ideas for events:

  • Cooking competition – partner with several local chefs and charge for a livestream of the cook-off.
  • Book group – find celebrities to host a book group and charge admission
  • Scavenger hunt – devise both a digital and a physical sleuthing game to include both your local and your long distance supports.
  • Art Show – local artists can produce a series of pieces based on a theme that can then be auctioned off for your non-profit.
  • Community Talk – Invite supporters of your mission to view an interview with a top stakeholder in your area of service.
  • Wine Tasting – Work with a local distributor to provide a sampling of wines to conduct a virtual tasting or do a vineyard tour.

Events are an excellent way to engage your board members in fundraising for your nonprofit. There are several strategies to help your organization’s leaders take an active participation is this important facet of their work:

  • Recruit new board members – it is often an uphill challenge to motivate folks to change but if you bring in new members with the knowledge and know how, they can start things off on the right foot.
  • Goals – involve the board in determining the financial goals for the event and name their role in meeting those goals.
  • Event Committee Chair – be sure to select someone who will champion and motivate other board members to be actively engaged in the event planning and execution.
  • Recognition – be sure to use social media and the event to recognize your board’s hard work for your non-profit.

Speaking of social media, you can use your channels to convey excitement and engagement for your event.  By creating special hashtags and jumping on the bandwagon of related hashtags, you can build a community and momentum about your event. It is also a fantastic space to showcase your event sponsors.

There are many reasons to host a fundraising event ranging from building connections to your community to building awareness about your mission to bringing in new supporters.  By using a plan and engaging the key people in your organization to assist, you can create a special experience for all involved.