Why you should stop looking for fundraising silver bullets and unicorns.
Many marketers/fundraisers desperately hope to find silver bullets or unicorns.
They become enamored by shiny objects that are easy to employ. Usually, these technologies and tactics focus on the top of the funnel, generating awareness or (at best) interest.
Yet the most effective and lowest-cost technologies and tactics are the ones that get employed at the bottom of the funnel instead. These less flashy tools tend to require just a little bit of work. But it’s worth it because the results are exponentially greater.
The gold is at the bottom of the funnel for legacy gifts.
In the case of legacy gift marketing, the people at the bottom of the funnel can be found in any organization’s legacy society. Nailing down those gifts (especially if they are revocable) is essential. After all the time and money has been spent on capturing those commitments, it would be a shame for the donor to change their mind prior to when the gift is realized. Yet that is exactly what happens all too often.
In the last years of a donor’s life, the structure of their estate becomes “shaky.” Wills change, beneficiaries get added and tossed out. Appropriations of dollars get increased and decreased. It is at this crucial stage of the consideration process when the most action happens and donors make their final decisions based on how they were treated by their charities after they disclosed their intentions.
According to Dr. Russell James’ research, “people who have had charity consistently in their estate plan for the long-term (say, 10+ years before death) leave, on average, 4 times the amount left by those who first added a charitable component within 2 years of death. So it is great to get in early. But you have to have a plan to ensure that you stay in until the end.” Furthermore, “once your organization is in their plan, then the irrevocable planned gifts (such as CRTs, CGAs, Remainder Interest Deeds) become really compelling. ‘We’re already in the plan, why not make it irrevocable and get some immediate tax/income benefits?” Likewise, it is widely known that the best people to talk to about charitable gift annuities are the very people who already have one with your organization.
The gold is at the bottom of the funnel for major gifts too.
Similarly, the easiest and most cost-effective way to gain more major gifts is at the bottom of the funnel from current major gift donors and their friends (thanks to referrals). Put away all your wealth screened data for just 5 minutes and ask a donor if they have any friends with similar interests that might be interested in learning about your mission too. I bet 3 out of 5 will say yes!
Shore up what you already have at the bottom of the funnel.
Be good to your hi-capacity supporters and legacy society members. Serve them so they don’t reconsider their devotion to your nonprofit. Then, ask them for referrals. It ain’t rocket science folks!