Must Read White Papers
Here you will find important information on where we stand on planned giving marketing as well as our philosophy. Need plenty more? Visit our blog on planned giving marketing.
By Viken Mikaelian
Planned giving marketing does not have to be like vanilla ice cream melting in a beige room. Ready or not, it’s time for incendiary thinking. Marketing smarts that set you and your nonprofit apart and ahead! That’s guerrilla marketing. Think outside the box to get the attention your message and mission require. Replete with real-world examples, this lively white paper explains how.
- Is your wife hot? How an edgy question launched a thousand air conditioners (and a lawsuit!).
- IMPACT: How “I hate you” made the message memorable even 25 years later.
- Free pizza! How large pies demolished competitors’ market share.
- Complaints are good — How playing it safe will get you buried.
By Viken Mikaelian
Evaluating websites in terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – who needs the aggravation? Not fundraisers. But the issue of online ADA Compliance isn’t going to go away, and there’s a very real downside to non-compliance.
- Not likely, but technically you can be sued.
- It is a complicated issue.
- If not the government, your own webmaster can be down your back.
- You can never be 100% compliant.
- It is more strict in CA and NY.
- We make you as compliant as can be. No other vendor comes close.
By Betsy Suppes
Can you dig it? Ores of metals, coal, oil, natural gas, gemstones and much more – they're the valuable commodities under our feet that neither fundraisers nor prospects can afford to ignore. You owe it to yourself and your constituents to understand the basics of gifts of mineral rights, and Betsy Suppes' concise primer in FAQ format is just what you need to get that knowledge. Print one out for your prospect, as well.
- Gifting mineral rights can reduce the donor's taxable estate.
- Gifting mineral rights are an attractive alternative to dividing oil and gas royalties between multiple heirs.
- Gifting mineral rights can relieve donors of burdensome management duties.
By Tom Ahern
Are you oversensitive? Do you melt down with grief and remorse when some marketing piece of yours stimulates a couple of complaints from your constituents? Well, in this paper Tom Ahern says, “Relax and smile.” Because complaints are useful and constructive. They tell you things you need to be aware of about your marketing. And the bottom line is, if you’re not getting complaints, you’re doing something wrong.
- Real direct mail goes out of its way to touch nerves and emotional triggers.
- You are not being heard if you are not getting any reactions.
- Handled properly, a complaint is an opportunity for a great conversation with a supporter.
By George P. Brown, Phd. and Kevin C. Brown
Why is it that when it comes to promoting charitable planning, financial advisors don’t seem to do a very good job of it? On the other hand, why should they spend time on something that doesn’t generate revenue? In this exciting, wide-ranging white paper, the authors examine why financial advisors tend not to do charitable planning, and why they should! With focused analysis, self-assessment quizzes and concise illustrations, this paper sounds a wake-up call to financial advisors who may be missing out on a chance to broaden their opportunities, ramp up their careers, and cultivate the bottom line – with charitable planning.
- Can you “catch the dream”?
- The secret ingredients for successful charitable planning
- Why nonprofits in need of funding and support represent a robust client pool
- Bringing yourself up to speed as a “planned giving department”
By Jack Miller, CFRE
Author Jack Miller shares a true story of an event that changed his life. It begins with the shy little girl Jessica who won't make friends with him, and culminates in a lesson on how suffering can help people put aside their fears to serve one another — on the real meaning of giving.
- Jessica is diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form a childhood cancer that commonly affects kids under 5 years old.
- The whole community comes together to help Jessica and her family in every way they can.
- In the end, Jessica's gift to Jack, and to everyone in her own community and beyond, is infinitely greater.
By Chris McLeod, JD
The roller coaster continues. Costs and revenues fluctuate. And when it comes to dividing the loaves and fishes and rendering unto Caesar, there's no special dispensation for your faith-based nonprofit. But there IS a way to pour oil on troubled fiscal waters: building endowment through planned giving. In this article Chris McLeod, JD, of GIVINGMATTERS provides a compelling list of reasons your organization should be initiating a legacy giving ministry now.
- Planned Giving isn't only for the "wealthy." And it's easier than you think.
- Congregants value their connection with your church. They want to give. It's up to you to ask.
- Legacy giving is an inclusive and healing process that can bring your "church family" closer together.
Planned Giving Newsletters that Work*
*Blah is not an option
By Viken Mikaelian with Jim Pierson
Old-fashioned planned giving newsletters are easy to produce, but these days easy is not good enough. Your grandfather’s newsletter is not getting read. It’s time for a new approach.
- Fundraisers have to work smarter with robust, insightful newsletters that engage and persuade the reader.
- Massage your mailing lists to focus on donor loyalty.
- Grows readership with messaging that focuses on the benefits of planned giving. Stop promoting death!.
- You need a design award like a fish needs a bicycle.
By Viken Mikaelian
The “all you can eat buffet” may be a great come-on for a chowhouse, but will it get you the traction you need in your planned giving marketing? This white paper explains why what works for Costco and Wal-Mart can be a costly failure for nonprofits.
- Hidden costs mean that not only are cheap marketing tools not good — they‘re not even cheap.
- Quick and easy e-blasts are actually the quick and easy way to alienate your constituents and force them to tune you out.
- Gimmicks don’t close gifts — people do. That’s why understanding the “human moment” is critical to your future.
Can You Find Out Who is Visiting Your Planned Giving Website? The Answer is No. And You Shouldn't Try.
There have been a few recent claims from planned giving vendors that they can identify the visitors to your planned giving website. Sounds too good to be true – and it is. In this paper, VirtualGiving.Com Director of IT Operations Jason Stauffer provides a tech-savvy yet layman-friendly explanation of just why such claims are false and misleading, and why no nonprofit should touch such a capability even if it existed.
- "Tracking" visitors is one thing, "identifying" them is another.
- There is a fundamental disconnect between an IP address (your PC's label) and the actual computer user.
- You need a court order even to ask internet service providers to reveal subscriber data based on IP addresses. Do you want to go there?
- Trying to get this information is a violation of your prospects' privacy and a disastrous customer-relations no-no.
- Even if you were able to procure such information, it is highly inaccurate.
- Think about it logically: if websites could identify visitors, we'd be deluged every day with media scandals about this or that celebrity, politician, or corporate bigwig visiting pornographic or otherwise controversial sites.
By John Foster
Not so long ago, the outlook for fundraising reflected the sunny optimism of the overall economy. What a difference a few years and some economic "uncertainty" make! Charitable gifts are made from ever-more scarce discretionary dollars. Yet we still ask the same prospects more often for more support — a great recipe for diminishing returns.
- Hit the ground running — you're late for the new paradigm.
- Trash your preconceptions — they only get in your way.
- Market boldly — planned giving still offers attractive advantages.
- Leverage the nontraditional — like gifts of non-appreciated assets!
By Tom Ahern
It's easy, but is it wise? You pay a vendor good money to produce a planned giving newsletter for your organization, and what you get is the same thing all that vendor's other clients get. As communications, they're a trainwreck, with writing that would put an accountant to sleep, inept headlines, and they're glaringly over-designed (a common feature of publications with nothing to say). No wonder prospects are calling them "death brochures."
- To recipients, these aren't really newsletters at all, but that dreaded and despised item, the naked attempt to sell.
- Basically sales brochures under another name, these "newsletters" are automatically unwelcome.
- Research proves your prospects consider that newsletter you're paying for to be a "death brochure."
- You can salvage the situation by getting back to a donor-centric approach to marketing communications.
By Viken Mikaelian
Our clients, friends and prospects often ask which term is better to use for their marketing efforts, "Planned Giving" or "Gift Planning." Answering their question has required a fair amount of explanation on our part, because this argument has been going on for more than 30 years. But now, the facts are in. The debate is over -- and guess who wins.
- Quick: Do you close a "planned gift" or a "gift plan"?
- Gift Planning? That's something retailers offer during the holidays, right?
- Which term is Googled 100 times more often than the other?
- Which term is vastly more popular in actual usage in print?
By Viken Mikaelian
Times have changed a lot in ten years — but the excuses for not pursuing planned gifts haven't. The excuses weren't valid a decade ago, and they sure as hell aren't true now. But you still hear fundraisers saying the same darn things – and falling further behind in the struggle for endowment. Reality check!
- Not going after planned gifts? Other nonprofits are — and they're getting the dollars you should be getting.
- Planned giving does not lessen annual giving — in fact, it increases it.
- Planned gifts are easy to give and easy to receive — they're gifts anyone can make.
- If you're resisting planned giving, you're arguing with a steamroller — and begging for extinction.
By Brian M. Sagrestano, JD, CFRE
Should you promote gifts of life insurance from donors ages 30-45? Brian says he is asked this question a lot, and that's no surprise, given that no nonprofits can afford not to look into every revenue source in a challenging economy. Based on practical and economic considerations, however, he recommends against seeking such gifts.
- Consider the effort involved in tracking donors and collecting premiums. You thought asking for gifts was hard?
- As a general rule, life insurance is not a great investment. Life insurance was not designed for charitable giving.
- Examples provide compelling arguments against gifts of life insurance.
- Even low-return endowment giving can easily outperform life insurance.
By Viken Mikaelian
Have you been putting them off? Bad idea. Find out why they can represent your most powerful marketing tool, and how the very process of eliciting donor stories cultivates your supporters and invites future giving.
- People like to talk about themselves and their generosity.
- Donor stories invite prospect identification by foregrounding positive giving outcomes.
- The getting and publishing of donor stories represents possibly the highest form of stewardship.
- Not a born interviewer? Effective aids are available to help you up the learning curve fast.
By Viken Mikaelian
Do you have a lazy website? Not anymore. Here are the critical steps you can take starting now to drive more prospects to visit, and energize your online marketing – even if your site is already rocking and rolling!
- Getting the most out of resources you already have available, such as organizational publications.
- Deploying effective marketing content including white papers, display ads and postcards.
- Discovering the power of a compelling, clickable e-mail signature line.
- Expanding your site's appeal by promoting it as a donor-centric, online information center.
By Debra Ashton
Are you running flat out developing the annual gifts you need just to cover your expenses? Endowment giving enables you to strengthen your organization's position permanently.
- Endowment giving works very effectively to offset operating expenses.
- Endowment giving results in larger, more transformational gifts.
- Endowment giving enables a quantum leap in donor engagement
- Endowment giving requires no special skills to solicit or accept.
By Brian Sagrestano, JD, CFRE
Tough times don't mean you have to miss out on that $41 trillion wealth transfer. Charitable bequest offers the greatest long-term sustainability for your program and its mission.
- Charitable bequests are the largest gifts that prospects can make.
- When other forms of revenue are declining, charitable bequest gifts represent a "lifeboat" for your program.
- The number of charitable bequests actually grew by 5 percent during recession years.
- Donors who commit to a charitable bequest make annual gifts twice as large as those with no charitable estate plans.
By Viken Mikaelian
What does the new research say? Who cares? Dithering never closed a gift. Navel-gazing is a waste of time when action pays dividends. It’s common sense.
- Are you wasting valuable time preparing to prepare?
- Sure, we can always do research — but what’s the question?
- Why do we require more academic study, metrics, and micro-dissection of what we already know?
- Focus on simple gifts that anyone can afford. They represent more than 80% of all gifts and they’re easy to market.
By Jerry Rohrbach
Talk about a successful Building Fund! The result was the Temple of King David. But that’s not the only Biblical story with philanthropic relevance.
- David’s prayer: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?”
- The Bible has a lot to say about accumulating wealth, caring for the poor and needy, and giving to God’s service for both secular and spiritual purposes.
- Jesus said, “You can’t take it with you.” Imagine the good that can be done by heeding this principle.
- Scientific studies support that it is better to give than to receive: Giving is good for you!
By Dr. Scott R. Janney, CFRE, RFC
Women may or may not lie about their age, but ACGA rate calculations assume that all annuitants claim to be two years younger than they really are!
- Does the recent plunge in investment portfolio value mean your program should stop offering gift annuities to donors?
- The American Council on Gift Annuities helps protect charities based on five assumptions.
- Changing tactics during stressful times causes your nonprofit to deviate from established norms and thus lose these protections.
- “A bird in the hand is better than one in the bush, even if you have to pay 9.5% for an estimated 2.6 years to hold to hold that bird in your hand.”
By Valerie Ingram
Some fundraisers’ plates are so full that they never get around to implementing a planned giving program. Community foundations are the reason that doesn’t have to be true.
- Being super busy could be an excuse for not building a planned giving program — but not when you can call on your community foundation for help.
- Community foundations are public charities that share the goal of improving quality of life in their local geographic area.
- You don’t need to become an expert in planned giving, because that’s what a community foundation already does.
- Community foundations have staff with planned giving expertise and legal committees to advise them, and provide low-cost training for nonprofit staff and board members.
by Richard D. Barrett and Reine Shiffman
- Planned giving is not appropriate for a new organization.
- Planned giving applies only to older people.
- We need money now; so we can’t possibly think about planned giving!
- Planned giving hurts annual giving.
by Viken Mikaelian
- How will we know how many visits our site gets?
- What to expect from your web statistics.
- Getting visitors to your website.
- Promote your website personally.
By John Foster and Kyle Anasiewicz, with Dan Rice
- Planned giving: A missed opportunity for churches?
- The right tools can change perceptions, selling your mission and building endowment.
- The gifts are waiting in the pews.
by Reine Shiffman
- The new millennium brings with it new attitudes about Jewish philanthropy.
- Jewish giving today is based more on value rather than intimidation or fear.
- More and more Jews are giving beyond the Jewish community.
- Planned giving provides an array of options and gives donors more control.
From the Barber Institute comes an inspiring story of how that organization and two caring families came together to remember a very special young woman who loved to ride roller coasters and root for her favorite sports teams. Read how this community of caring coalesced around Maureen Riazzi, and memorialized her in the September 2013 “Maureen Riazzi Adapted Course” sports event, sponsored by the Barber Institute and known familiarly as the “Barber Beast on The Bay.”
- Maureen’s indomitable spirit — “She was truly a gift to our family.”
- A positive and inclusive outdoor event supporting the Barber Institute’s mission.
- A true story of loving and giving, loving back and giving back.