Data suggests more planned gifts could be headed your way


A 2009 report (I realize it’s a bit dated) in Financial Services Review, found that the number of charitable estate plans steadily increased among Americans aged 55-64 between 1996 and 2006.  The report analyzed the trend of 41,965 Americans in a study authored by Russell N. James III (University of Georgia), Mitzi K. Lauderdale (Texas Tech University), and Cliff A. Robb (University of Alabama).

According to the authors, “this increase was driven in large part by higher levels of education and childlessness and by an increasing propensity for those without children to make charitable estate plans.”

Furthermore, the report found a dramatic decrease in fertility.  “The average number of children and grandchildren decreased. This decrease was not just the result of respondents having fewer large families, but was also accompanied by a large increase in the number of respondents having no children. This increase in childlessness would be expected to have a significant impact on charitable estate planning as it avoids the presence of a competing beneficiary.”


Keep in mind that competition for planned gifts is heating up.  Other organizations are investing more money in planned giving marketing.  So while the number of charitable estate plans is increasing, you should not expect an avalanche of funding unless you take the necessary steps to promote planned gifts effectively.

7 responses to “Data suggests more planned gifts could be headed your way”

  1. Great info Greg. Most of us already know that childlessness is a major factor behind planned gifts. I didn’t notice it was an increasing condition in our society.

  2. Great info Greg. Most of us already know that childlessness is a major factor behind planned gifts. I didn’t notice it was an increasing condition in our society.

  3. engagementfundraising says:

    Thanks Lorri. I found that interesting too. It bodes well for the future of planned giving.

  4. Kevin Johnson says:

    Based on several thousand donor interviews I have conducted in recent years, I would agree that there may indeed be more gifts coming. However, no one should take any of them for granted: they still have to be earned. Legacy gifts may end up being the only real “growth” area in nonprofit fundraising between now and 2020. Kevin Johnson,

  5. I think that a lot of these studies get lost in detail and miss the bigger picture. Rather than dissecting which particular marketing segment has greater propensity to give, and what factors may affect a legacy gift (for example, no children), nonprofits should focus on making legacy asks of their long term supporters. The general trend in these past two decades is greater numbers of legacy commitments, an increased dollars.
    I don’t believe that nonprofits need to be worried about competition if they have a a proactive legacy program in place, that includes personal legacy asks in addition to obtaining qualified leads through communications.
    The information that this and myriad others studies provide is interesting. However it’s akin to the problem that the field of planned giving already suffers from, and that is an approach that is seen as too technical.

  6. engagementfundraising says:

    Thanks Greg- I agree with everything most of your thoughts. I find it interesting that more nonprofits are not ramping up their marketing efforts. And I do feel there is competition because I think some legacy donors support several charities. It’s not a matter of whether or not a donor will leave a gift. It’s a matter of how much they might appropriate to each charity. Of course the one that does the best job stewarding the donor and promoting their case will win more funding.

  7. engagementfundraising says:

    Thank you for joining the conversation Kevin. I agree that legacy gifts may be the only real growth area for nonprofits.

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