The Ultimate Planned Gift Marketing Strategy (4 simple steps)

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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.

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Most planned gift marketing strategies are not effective.  They miss the mark. They waste money. And they leave tons of opportunities on the table.
Legacy gifts can (and do) come from just about anyone.  That includes non-donors and people that are not on your organization’s radar at all.
In fact, many of my clients tell me that anywhere from 30% to more than 80% of their planned gifts come from people that never made it into their database.  So why on earth would you implement a strategy that only includes your organization’s donor database and leaves out non-donor supporters, volunteers, staff and others?
There are inexpensive ways to target non-donors.
First, realize that most successful marketing is accomplished only after understanding “the marketing funnel” including (in first-to-last order):

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Desire
  4. Action

This strategy was first developed in the late 1800’s by E. St. Elmo Lewis (one of the first ad agency owners in American) and it’s been proven effective ever since.
So your planned gift marketing strategy should look like this:
1. Build awareness (so donors and non-donor supporters understand that they can plan a gift for your organization)  Note:  This can be done very inexpensively but it requires a little time and effort.
2. Awaken  interest (among anyone in your database and also people you may not yet know)  Note:  This can also be done inexpensively and it’s important to focus on generating leads at this stage so you can cultivate relationships with your interested supporters.
3. Develop desire (by nurturing leads with personalized, benefit-oriented, targeted messages or personal visits… in fundraising circles this is more commonly known as “cultivating”)  Note:  This is where you should invest most of your marketing dollars!
4. Inspire action (so prospects decide to commit to a planned gift)  Note: Here’s where you should spend most of your staff time.
 
Don’t try shortcuts.  Don’t waste time or money modeling your database before developing a wise marketing strategy.  And don’t do nothing.  If you are “stuck” and don’t know what to do first, here are the easiest awareness-building tactics I know.  I posted this back in 2012 so you may not have seen it.
 

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6 responses to “The Ultimate Planned Gift Marketing Strategy (4 simple steps)”

  1. When I’m asked to teach a seminar, I’m frequently asked to talk about “the latest, greatest” techniques, products, and services for planned gift marketing. Many folks seem to be looking for the fundraising equivalent of the get-rich-quick idea. However, most organizations would achieve far greater planned giving success if they would simply master the fundamentals. Your post nicely outlines the basic four-step marketing process. Organizations that embrace it will certainly help themselves.

  2. When I’m asked to teach a seminar, I’m frequently asked to talk about “the latest, greatest” techniques, products, and services for planned gift marketing. Many folks seem to be looking for the fundraising equivalent of the get-rich-quick idea. However, most organizations would achieve far greater planned giving success if they would simply master the fundamentals. Your post nicely outlines the basic four-step marketing process. Organizations that embrace it will certainly help themselves.

  3. Greg Warner says:

    Thanks so much Michael.

  4. Greg Warner says:

    Thanks so much Michael.

  5. Today’s webinar with Dr. James Russell was enlightening, thought provoking and certainly a call to action for updating donor communications about planned gifts at both ends of the age spectrum. Can you please put me in touch with Dr. Russell as two professional organizations here in Sacramento offer a joint luncheon program annually and we would be interested in seeking the possibility of Dr. Russell serving as the keynote speaker. Those organizations are The Planned Giving Forum of Greater Sacramento (www.pgfsac.org) and The California Capital Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Thank you for presenting the webinar & for passing my contact information on to Dr. Russell.

  6. Today’s webinar with Dr. James Russell was enlightening, thought provoking and certainly a call to action for updating donor communications about planned gifts at both ends of the age spectrum. Can you please put me in touch with Dr. Russell as two professional organizations here in Sacramento offer a joint luncheon program annually and we would be interested in seeking the possibility of Dr. Russell serving as the keynote speaker. Those organizations are The Planned Giving Forum of Greater Sacramento (www.pgfsac.org) and The California Capital Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Thank you for presenting the webinar & for passing my contact information on to Dr. Russell.

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