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Some thoughts about planned giving marketing newsletters.

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.

There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to newsletters for planned giving marketing.

planned giving newsletters
A personalized, relevant planned giving newsletter

First, can we agree that just about anyone in your database could be a planned giving prospect?

And let’s add the fact that tons of folks are likely to consider a planned gift for your organization even if they are not in your database.  I was meeting with the Vice President of a hospital system last week and he noted that a large number of the bequests they receive “come out of nowhere.”  Of course, his staff will scour their database to find a link.  But often they can’t find a connection between the organization and the donor.

Having said that, can we assume that anyone in the world could be a planned giving prospect?  Oh my!

So we’ve got to narrow down the list, right?

Some people will mine their data using Blackbaud or another service.  Others will simply try to determine who has been giving somewhat frequently.  For instance, I know a Director of Planned Giving that firmly believes a good planned giving prospect is someone who has donated every year for at least 5 years in a row.

That’s certainly not a bad way to slim down your list.  But I think there’s a better way.  I think organizations should consider a multi-step process that includes an acquisition phase followed by on-going nurturing efforts.

Step 1- Cast a wider net to ultimately create a targeted list for nurturing before sending a newsletter to a mass audience (an acquisition effort)

Step 2- Test frequent donors and infrequent donors to see if it matters

Step 3- Consider other ways to segment your list (for instance, did they volunteer or participate in an event somewhat recently?)

Step 4- Your acquisition effort should attempt to get your prospects to self-identify where they are in the consideration process and what topics interest them

Step 4- Once you’ve determined who is interested, what they are interested in, and where they are in the consideration process… then you should educate them with valuable information sent with enough frequency to make your point without hitting them too often

Step 5- And finally, be sure to send relevant information to each prospective planned giving donor.  Personalized communications engage prospects and deliver more value.  A hit-or-miss, one-size-fits-all newsletter approach sent out to a mass audience is very expensive.  Plus, consider this: would you prefer a newsletter that includes several topics you may or may not want to read about or would you prefer one that gives you information you care about?

So, I recommend spending a decent portion of your marketing budget on acquisition so you can find planned giving prospects that self-identify their interests and where they are in the consideration process.  Then, invest in a smaller but more qualified list. Use the information from the acquisition effort to send frequent, highly-personalized, relevant educational information.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW

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