One of the most foolish things a nonprofit can do is to only focus their planned giving marketing efforts on older prospects. Why? Just look at Texas Tech Professor Russell James’ latest findings from a study of donors from 40 different organizations. In his research “Messages to Encourage Bequests: Testing New Findings from Neuroimaging,” Professor James studied the correlation between giving intentions for regular donations and bequest intentions.
It turned out that the gap in the average “giving intentions” among the research participants was 40% higher for donors over the age of 50. This means that the correlation between regular giving and leaving a legacy bequest was 40% lower for donors aged 50+.
It’s not all bad news. Professor James found that this giving gap can be closed with certain messages. However, it’s apparent that the gap is much more difficult to overcome if you only focus your marketing on older donors.
I realize that it may be worthwhile to try to close the gap since the donations from older folks will arrive sooner. But this only further proves that the best time to start marketing planned gifts is 20 years ago… to all ages. And focusing only on older prospects is a bad idea.
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