The power of convenience: A follow-up to my post about online will-writing tools

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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.

The power of convenience as an influencer and motivator of outcomes is enormous and should never be underestimated.

Ours is a culture of convenience; we expect it in every area of our lives. Amazon.com is growing and profiting because it provides astounding levels of convenience to its customers. The same goes for iTunes and Facebook. Today, you can purchase a product, listen to music, or share information with your friends easier than ever.

News flash!

Your donors are the same people who buy, download, and share. They not only want to gain value at a time of their choosing, they expect to be able to do so. Convenience is a powerful thing, and providing it greatly increases the chance that people will take the actions you desire.

Online will-writing platforms are amazingly convenient.

After posting this article about the pros and cons of online will-writing platforms recently, most of the emails I received and discussions I had with folks in the field were in agreement with my concerns about these tools. I have plenty.

However, one person in particular pointed out via email that I failed to mention that the reason why fundraisers and marketing staff are curious about these tools (and some are implementing them) is because they are so darn convenient for both donors and organizational staff.

Shortly after I received that email, Daniel Goldstein, Founder of Trust & Will, an online estate planning company in the US, emailed me stating “The convenience of estate planning online is obvious—and the demand is trackable and growing every day. This trend is already in full force. Even legislators in the US agree—with many states already passing e-will legislation.”

Donors

Although there are risks associated with using online will-writing platforms to gain legacy commitments, donors are much more likely to skip thinking about them because of the convenience factor associated with using the tools.

Staff: Fundraisers / Marketers

It’s fairly easy (convenient) for you to sign-up with an online will-writing company and see some commitments roll-in relatively soon. Some staff (especially marketing folks) are likely to be attracted to the transactional nature of those kinds of somewhat immediate outcomes.

In other words, in a relatively short time-frame your staff might be able to count the number of wills that include gifts and could potentially support your mission.

Never mind that those ‘commitments’ might never become realized revenues. After all, they will still need to be stewarded properly to ensure that those supporters won’t revoke their plans. And, never mind that the donor might have made a decision that isn’t really as good for them and your organization as it could be had they worked with you or an estate planner in the first place.

The fact of the matter is that the convenience factor has the potential to easily overpower all of those concerns and others.

I’ll say it again, the power of convenience as an influencer and motivator of outcomes is enormous and should not ever be underestimated.

Convenience is a universal influencer for people all around the world.

Crispin White manages marketing for Bequeathed, an online will-writing tool that has been helping residents of Great Britain for over 5 years. He wrote a comment below my previous blog post describing his experience in England and Wales stating, “In a test campaign by Macmillan Cancer Support, supporters were offered a free online will or a free solicitor will. At the Institute of Fundraising Conference in July, the charity reported that 54% of the 18,000 consumers who registered for the offer chose an online option. It’s clearly not about expense for consumers. It’s about the convenience and accessibility of online, just like it has been in the shift from branch banking, local insurance brokers and High Street retailers.”

Clearly everyone loves convenience no matter where they live.

So now that you recognize the power of convenience, it is important to remember this:

It is likely that your job is (at least in part) to be a good steward of your donors’ gifts, planned gifts, commitments, promises, intentions, hopes, dreams and wishes. The problem is, however, that in many cases your supporters using online tools (assuming you offer them the opportunity to use them) will be highly unlikely to take the time to deeply reflect upon and explore their deep-seated needs. Why? Because they will have skipped past a discussion with you — an expert in the field — as a result of the convenience supplied by a quick and easy online tool. Then, in a few years or decades, that could cost your organization dearly while it might also leave your successors with headaches, frustrations, legal burdens, and unfulfilled expectations.

So why not treat the commitments as leads, not gifts?

If you book the commitments believing they are gifts and count the money as if you raised it, your organization might face serious problems in the future.

That’s why I think you should treat the newly created wills as leads. Especially since most of the so-called ‘gifts’ will probably be revokable legacy ‘commitments’ after all. By doing so you’ll take control of the situation and make it more likely that the money planned to potentially support your cause will be realized by your organization after all.

By treating them like leads (opportunities) instead of ‘notches on your belt,’ you’ll be exponentially more likely to find yourself working your way into meaningful conversations with your supporters. After all, don’t you agree that meaningful conversations are much more valuable to your organization’s financial well-being in the long-term than ‘arms-length’ promises?

But you know that already, don’t you?

You know that YOU are skilled in this arena. You know that, after meeting with a supporter, YOU can help them find meaning in their lives through gifts after their lifetime. And YOU can collaborate with them so they win, their heirs are cared for properly, and your mission gets funded so each supporter can make more impact than they might have originally realized. YOU are the specialist— the expert. And no online platform can entirely replace YOU.

So what’s next?

Now, the trick is to make YOU just as convenient as an online will-writing platform and get YOU inserted into the decision-making process with your supporters. For that, you’ll want to learn more about MarketSmart (and you can do that here with no pressure whatsoever).

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