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Does Planned Giving Marketing Have a Place in Major Fundraising Events?

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.

After more than a quarter of a century in the nonprofit community, I’ve certainly attended more than my share of events – both as a development professional and as a donor.
They can be very formulaic and dull. Yet we want the room full of happy and interested supporters and prospects.
One way to accomplish this is to make people feel special, even in a room filled with anywhere from 500 to 1,000 or so people.
Something I liked to do when I was running events as a nonprofit staff person was to take a section different sections of the program to recognize particular donors (with their permission first).
There are so many ways to do this for every type of donor. When it came to people who had let the charity know about their estate plan gifts:

  1. I liked to have someone important in the program recognize them from the podium.
    • If  there were a lot, the legacy society members were jointly thanked for attending
    • If they were sitting together, their table read Legacy Society instead of a number
  2. I asked these donors to wear their legacy society pins or I used corsages or lapel flowers.
  3. Instead of a planned giving tribute page in the program list the available gifts or pitching a bequest, I listed the members of the legacy society (with their permission).
  4. If I could arrange it, I would have a legacy society member give brief remarks about why they included the nonprofit in their estate plan.

Such simple stuff when you look at all the other work that goes into making an event.
I know it’s much harder to pull together a really fabulous event today, but the same premise exists that making people who attend feel special is something every fundraising professional can do.
When it comes to planned giving, the more visibility it gets, the better. So, do you include planned giving as part of your events?

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