Brewer Direct
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Planned Giving 101

Brewer Direct: Nonprofit Marketing at its Best

Planned Giving, also known as Legacy Giving, involves a variety of financial tools that a donor can use to leave money or other assets to a charity.

To put it simply, Planned Giving makes it easy for donors to leave money or gifts to a nonprofit at their death. It’s a promise of long-term financial support and their commitment to your organization (and to those you serve) beyond their lifetime.

Most nonprofits accept that Planned Giving is an important giving option to offer their donors. That’s great, because it’s never been more important for nonprofits to have a means of continued security for the future. For donors, it’s equally important to provide a way to leave a lasting legacy of generosity and compassion for the future with the added benefit of tax reductions in the present.

Communicating with Your Donors

While many organizations acknowledge the importance of Planned Giving, this concept may not be not so familiar to their donors or worse, completely unknown. Perhaps there’s no mission statement or key messaging in place to address the option of giving planned gifts. Perhaps it’s rarely or never mentioned in your organization’s newsletters, brochures or other communications.

Your organization may not be alone. According to Giving USA, bequest giving declined from 9% in 2016 to 8% of all charitable giving in 2017 ($30.36 billion total in bequests in 2017), even as the total charitable donations in 2017 in the U.S. rose to $390.05 billion, an increase of 2.7% over 2015.

What does this show? There’s a critical need to attract these Planned Giving dollars! To do that, you’ll need to figure out the most effective ways to communicate Planned Giving options with donors. You’ll also need a solid strategy to market your program to donors who are most likely to respond.

What to Consider with Your Planned Giving Program

To start, spend time thinking through how you’ll approach your donors with the WHY: why a planned gift to your organization benefits them, and a vision for the type of service or program their gift can support. While your donors are generous and compassionate, they may not want to leave their estate to your general fund. Proving your organization’s lasting presence in the community and assuring your donors that your nonprofit is well established is important in securing their support for Planned Giving.

Most donors are looking for a legacy to leave with Planned Giving – which means supporting a service or program they see as significant. In other words, they have to love it! You must balance offering possibilities that the donor will see as significant with meeting your organization’s long-term goals.

Ready to start? Check out our blog on “3 Steps to Grow Your Planned Giving Program”!


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-Shellie Speer
Executive VP/Client Strategic Development

Shellie has been working side-by-side with Rescue Mission clients for over 30 years. She is the spearhead for Brewer Boost, which offers wraparound services like key messaging development and community engagement strategies. Her vision for an integrated donor communications model has empowered clients to set in motion successful development plans that strengthen their Missions’ financial foundations and partnerships in the community.