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The planned giving marathon is all about engagement.

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.

Recently someone told me that their organization doesn’t consider a planned giving lead to be a “real lead” unless someone is calling in or requesting specific information about how to definitely leave a gift.

In other words, the planned giving team felt that their job was to “procure” gifts that have already been decided upon.

It would be great if that’s how things worked.  Then we wouldn’t need to market planned gifts.  In fact, if that’s how the world worked, we wouldn’t have to market anything.  People would never need to be sold.  They’d never need to be inspired or persuaded.

But, of course, that’s not how it works.  Folks, it’s all about engagement!

Planned giving marketing should inspire people to seek out more information.  And when they do, your organization needs to engage with them.  You need to meet them half-way.  You need to learn about their unique story.  Why do they care?

It’s best to do this face-to-face or on the telephone.  But who has the time?  If you do, use it to build personal relationships.  If you don’t, use technology to build relationships.  Use email, personal letters and social media to engage with your prospects.

Once someone raises their hand, if you don’t engage with them personally or with marketing tools because they aren’t definitely ready to leave a gift… then shame on you.

Keep in mind that many planned gifts come from people who have never donated to your organization.  And the average planned gift floats around $50,000 depending on who you ask.  Now— if you think people will leave that kind of money for your organization in their will without engagement… well… you’re nuts!  When it comes to gifts that drop out of the sky… the engagement actually started a long time ago without your knowledge.

So, if you’d like many MORE people to leave gifts, then you’d better engage with donors and non-donors alike.

Bottom line:  Get people to raise their hands (lead generation).  Then engage with them (cultivation) using polite, persistent, donor-centric marketing messages over time.  Planned giving marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

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