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This formula was developed by Michael J. Rosen, CFRE, and represents an update to the original worksheet presented in his book,

Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing.



Check out Michael on:
His Blog  |  Twitter  |  His Website

Step 1: Size of database = Records (i.e.: donors, loyal donors, members, patrons, newsletter recipients, loyal supporters such as volunteers, etc.)

Since the target market for bequests are frequent annual donors, you should count the number of donors to your organization. However, depending on your organization, you might want to include other loyal supporters such as volunteers.

Step 2: Number of records x 8% = Low-end number of potential bequest donors

Take the number of records you have and multiply that figure by 8 percent, which is the percentage of American donors over the age of 50 that have made a charitable estate commitment. If your donor file skews younger, you might want to back off that number a bit.

Step 3: Number of records x 33% = High-end number of potential bequest donors

Take the original number of records you recorded in Step 1 and multiply that figure by 33 percent, which is the percentage of Americans that are willing to consider a bequest gift.

Step 4: Low-end number of potential bequest donors/3 = the revised low-end number of potential bequest donors

Unfortunately, not every potential bequest donor will choose to support your organization. Some donors will support other organizations. Some who will be willing to consider a commitment will ultimately decide not to do so. The formula assumes that your organization can secure bequest gifts from one-third of its potential market. If you are feeling conservative, increase the denominator. If you are more ambitious, lower it. The outcome will be the estimated low-end number of potential bequest donors that you can secure over time with an effective marketing effort.

Step 5: High-end number of potential bequest donors/3 = the revised high-end number of potential bequest donors

This follows the same process as Step 4 except it is applied to the high-end number of potential bequest donors. Unfortunately, not every potential bequest donor will choose to support your organization. Some donors will support other organizations. Some who may be willing to consider a commitment will ultimately decide not to do so. The formula assumes that your organization can secure bequest gifts from one-third of its potential market. If you are feeling conservative, increase the denominator. If you are more ambitious, lower it. The outcome will be the estimated high-end number of potential bequest donors that you can secure over time with an effective marketing effort.

Step 6: Estimated number of low-end potential bequest donors x $57,000 = $ potential bequest dollars

Take the estimated number of low-end potential bequest donors (Step 4) and multiply by $57,000, which is what the latest research revealed to be the average bequest value (under $1,000,000) in the United States. Alternatively, you can multiply the number of potential bequest donors by your organization’s average bequest gift value, being sure to deduct any unusually large gifts when calculating the average. The result is the gross potential bequest dollars that could come from future bequest gifts at the low-end. Of course, this does not take into account the growth of the donor base (Step 1) over time.

Step 7: Estimated number of high-end potential bequest donors x $57,000 = $ potential bequest dollars

This step follows the same process as Step 6 except it is applied to the high-end number of potential bequest donors. Take the estimated number of high-end potential bequest donors (Step 5) and multiply by $57,000, which is what the latest research revealed to be the average bequest value (under $1,000,000) in the United States. Alternatively, you can multiply the number of potential bequest donors by your organization’s average bequest gift value, being sure to deduct any unusually large gifts when calculating the average. The result is the gross potential bequest dollars that could come from future bequest gifts at the high-end. Of course, this does not take into account the growth of the donor base (Step 1) over time.

Step 8: Summary

Low-end potential bequest dollars (Step 6):  $
High-end potential bequest dollars (Step 7):  $

While this is not a forecast, it does provide some indication of the potential results for your organization.

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