4 simple suggestions to improve your planned giving marketing.

Most people think planned giving marketing is complicated.  It isn’t.  Here are some really simple suggestions for generating planned gifts.

1- Make your planned giving messages omnipresent.  Be sure to employ all the free (or low-cost) marketing channels you have available to you.  Just to name a few…

  • The back of every employee’s and volunteer’s business cards
  • The signature spot of every employee’s and volunteer’s email
  • The organization’s letterhead, newsletter, magazine, website or e-newsletter
  • Publications and signs at events
  • Piggy-back inserts in your acknowledgement letters

2- Remember to use acquisition strategies.  The marketing funnel in fundraising usually involves acquisition and cultivation strategies.  Acquisition is expensive but necessary.  And cultivation is where you get your best return on investment.

But when a fundraiser decides to engage in planned giving marketing, they quickly forget about acquisition and cultivation.  Instead they try to figure out who is a likely planned giving prospect in their current database and they target those folks with letters or newsletters.

We have found that you can and should get people to raise their hands and show interest first with acquisition (lead generation) marketing efforts.  Once you have done that, you will have a much better (albeit smaller) list for your cultivation efforts.

It’s important to recognize that anywhere from 20% to 50% of planned gifts come from people who have never made a donation to the organization that received the gift.  That means that a lot of people could be worthwhile prospects who rarely get planned giving messages.

Acquire leads first. Get people to raise their hands!  Do that with acquisition marketing.

3- Cultivate your leads.  Once you have compelled donors and non-donors to raise their hands, you need to send them messages persistently.  You never know when a life-changing event will occur.  You’ll want to ensure that your message and case for support is always there at the top of their mind.

A planned gift is an investment in your organization.  It’s a highly-considered gift.  In for-profit marketing we call this kind of purchase an “enterprise purchase” or an “investment purchase”.  People who plan gifts are investing a lot of money ($45,000 on average) in your organization’s ability to make an impact in a way the donor could never do on their own.  They are making that investment so it occurs after their lifetime.  It’s serious not spontaneous.

So, when it comes to marketing planned gifts, frequency and repetition are required over long periods of time.  If you’ve done your acquisition marketing right, you’ll have a good list and your cultivation efforts will be very worthwhile.

4- Don’t forget the 80/20 rule.  If 80% of planned gifts come in the form of bequests, then you should mention bequests most of the time.  It’s that simple.

GEICO sells auto insurance.  They also sell boat insurance, motorcycle insurance, RV insurance and more.  But at least 80% of the time, their ads focus on auto insurance.  They aren’t stupid.  Follow their lead.  Focus on bequests.


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