How to use a blog to generate planned gifts.

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

According to research by the University of Massachusetts, charities and higher education have a higher adoption rate for blogs than any other category. And that makes sense because blogs are a cost-effective way to tell stories and build a consistent emotional connection with constituents.

Blogging adoption by Sector - University of Massachusetts ReportBut how are nonprofits using blogs to generate planned gifts?  Are they using them at all?

Let me know if I’m wrong about this, but I think it’s safe to say that we are the first firm to develop a new blog for a non-profit with a serious strategy for planned giving lead generation and cultivation.  You can see it here.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society BlogHere’s our basic strategy:

  • First it is important to note that, although the blog has a heavy planned giving tilt, it wasn’t created solely to generate planned giving leads but, rather, as part of a comprehensive communication/cultivation plan.
  • Second, engaging donors and other interested audiences with current topics and relevant stories was the primary focus of the blog— not raising money.
  • Third, reinforcing the mission of the organization came next.
  • And finally, when it came time to ask for money, lead generation for planned gifts carried almost the same weight as the “ask” for donations.

So….  the blog was a part of our overall re-branding/communications strategy.  We figured it would be a great way to expand engagement and information sharing in order to bring people closer to the mission.  That’s why we launched it before any other piece of our re-branding effort!

To generate leads, we used a simple banner ad on the right promoting free estate planning guides as our hook.

How is it working for planned giving lead generation?

It’s really working very well.  The small banner on the right side of the blog page has already generated several planned giving leads including some folks who said they are considering a gift.  The site has only been up for about 1 week.

The verdict.

We all know that planned giving marketing needs to be ubiquitous.  But not many organizations make it so because there are tons of other competing priorities.  Folks, it’s not just about letters and emails anymore.  Multi-channel planned giving marketing is here.  Just be sure to recognize that it’s different.  The leads will dribble in slowly and you must post new articles consistently over time.

These days donors want you to communicate with them in channels they prefer.  Some donors simply like to read stories online using a blog.  Fish where the fish are and make the planned giving message part of that space.  I believe we are beginning to understand the future of planned giving marketing.

Here are some other things to think about if you decide to create a blog for your organization:

  • Make sure the content is exceptional and worth reading
  • Include calls to action
  • Make use of “real” photos and videos (not staged or purchased)
  • Tell stories about how your organization helps others to fulfill its mission (we need to work on this more)
  • Be careful with the design… make it simple to search and navigate
  • Convenient social sharing (we forgot this and will be adding it very soon)

You might also want to check out Mark Schaefer’s great examples of non-profit blogs here.  None of them include a planned giving lead generation offer but it’s still a nice list.

6 responses to “How to use a blog to generate planned gifts.”

  1. Just a super post! Creative and informative and thought provoking.

  2. Just a super post! Creative and informative and thought provoking.

  3. Shelley says:

    Creative, informative and integrated messaging gets attention, costs less – and gets results! The response from our donors has been very exciting and we are very pleased with this blog format for telling donors how their dollars make a difference.

  4. Shelley says:

    Creative, informative and integrated messaging gets attention, costs less – and gets results! The response from our donors has been very exciting and we are very pleased with this blog format for telling donors how their dollars make a difference.

  5. […] Greg Warner of MarketSmart is constantly pushing the technology envelope when it comes to marketing planned gifts. His latest effort:  a blog for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation that helps promote planned gifts. […]

  6. […] Greg Warner of MarketSmart is constantly pushing the technology envelope when it comes to marketing planned gifts. His latest effort:  a blog for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation that helps promote planned gifts. […]

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