The single worst way to evaluate your planned giving marketing program

Image -- The single worst way to evaluate your planned giving program

Recently someone told me that their current planned giving marketing efforts were not working.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because there’s been a drop in our planned giving revenue over the past couple of years,” she replied.

Huh?  So she was evaluating the success of her current planned giving marketing efforts based on a recent drop in planned giving revenues even though many of the recent gifts were surely the result of donor decisions made years earlier (and perhaps even decades earlier).

I think looking solely at recent revenue might be the single worst way to evaluate a planned giving marketing program.  Why?  Because there are so many reasons why her organization’s planned giving revenue might have declined recently.  Here’s a short list of questions I would ask myself before deciding that my marketing isn’t working:

  1. What marketing efforts have been done over the past few years and past couple of decades?
  2. What kind of budget was assigned to these efforts? In other words, how much was spent?
  3. What metrics have been measured to evaluate the marketing efforts?  (see a list here)

By answering those questions and reviewing the metrics, you’d get a good handle on how your planned giving program’s marketing is really doing.

Bottom line: The revenue generated from your planned giving program today is a direct result of the efforts your organization put forth years ago… even decades ago.  

Farmers plant seeds knowing that the fruits of their labor will come later. Sadly this person has been in charge for so long (17 years!) that she is now seeing the fruits (or lack of fruits) of her labor. She failed to plant and cultivate the right seeds long ago.  And now she is feeling the pain that results from short-sighted thinking.

Don’t let this happen to you, your organization and those who depend on your organization. Start planting your seeds for planned gifts today.


Related Posts:

>> 10 Steps to Developing A Planned Giving Program
>> Want more planned gifts? Focus on why not how

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6 years ago

Good article! This can be one of the most challenging aspects of planned giving – educating staff and leadership about the long term benefits of planned gifts and that they are not immediate revenue generators to the bottom line. Fyi that the link to the list of marketing metrics is not working…

6 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Thanks Emily.
Just fixed it.

David Moore
6 years ago

The “see a list here” link isn’t working.

Jen Henke
6 years ago

Thanks for putting the elephant in the room “When are we going to see some money from planned giving? We started this last month!!” to bed in a very conversational way.
Keep up the good work!

6 years ago
Reply to  Jen Henke

My pleasure Jen. Thanks for reading.

claire axelrad
6 years ago

This made me smile. Evaluating a planned giving program in the short term is like saying: “My (living) parents are stingy because I haven’t received a bequest from them yet.” Sometimes I used to say to my boss: “What do you want me to do? Put a hit out on our donors?!” Planned giving requires patience to be your virtue. And, of course, planting seeds.

6 years ago

Thanks Claire. Glad you liked the post.

Sharon Wangman
Sharon Wangman
5 years ago

I agree with all of the above. My personal favourite is, “There is no magic bullet when it comes to Planned Giving”.

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