Planned giving is a rewarding field, and it is hard to imagine being in any other.
I love to help fundraisers like you. Not just your organization, but your career, too. Our services help you and your organization succeed by teaching you how to close more and larger gifts.
I try not take myself too seriously, but I do take my and your business seriously. You’ll probably figure this out by reading our publications and blog. I also have a tendency to call it like I see it, and at times I can be unapologetically irreverent. There are too many vanilla people in this industry (and this world) who would benefit from being more Rocky Road (or at least adding a few sprinkles).
Attend one of our webinars and see how exciting this business can be, or invite me as a keynote speaker for your next event.
We’re also a great team that includes a very unusual combination of people — a first in the planned giving industry. And it’s not just that we’re well educated and experienced. We’re also street smart, with real-world know-how. That’s not something you pick up in the classroom.
Our team brings a balanced approach to solving your problems. We’ve got the legal expertise, e-marketing expertise, print-marketing expertise, strategy expertise, copy-writing expertise, technology and IT expertise, social media and search engine optimization expertise. Plus we understand you, and we understand your prospects.
When you do business with us, you get professionalism, relationship expertise, customer service and a sense of humor. So doing business with us is a pleasure. Not a hassle.
Early on I learned that you build a better company with better people. At PlannedGiving.Com we are all young at heart, yet with lots of experience … people experience. Even our sales team are not “sales people.” They are people-people providing solutions.
I also learned that another way of building a better company is to place our pride in our back pocket and be happy to learn from clients who are smarter than we are.
I entered this business in 1998 developing planned giving websites. From the beginning it was a “pure play*” firm. At that time this was not an easy task because the industry was not yet ready for getting planned giving online. In those first few years, I recall earning less than $7,000 annually. My wife Olga’s income from her job enabled us to pay the bills.
What made it even tougher was an industry without vision proclaiming across the nation “You can’t get your vision, your mission, and your planned giving message across on a website.”
Here’s more personal detail on how I got into planned giving.
*A “pure play” is a company that focuses solely on one type of product or service. Other vendors, for example, began as print shops seeking new avenues to keep their presses running. Others began as planned giving software companies (calculators) and added planned giving content for added revenue.
Our goal was constant innovation — to lead and not to follow. What we did was always a “first”: better website navigation, donor-centric copy, interactive tools and more.
We were not content to be a “newsletter company” that simply recycles the same old content online. We developed our copy specifically to communicate through websites, and we still do so.
Quality led to quantity. While we focused on compelling planned giving websites, our clients began asking us for more products and services such as direct mail to market estate gifts, outright gifts, trusts and life-income gifts such as Charitable Gift Annuities, Unitrusts, etc.
So in 2000, we were the first to develop “the planned giving postcard.” Another first… a card that described a planned giving message in 200 words or less. Many criticized us, especially competitors, claiming that a prospect can’t “get” or understand planned giving with such brief copy … still proclaiming that they needed “the newsletter.”
Bingo. Our comeback was: think marketing. Planned giving newsletters are going right into the trash; a postcard has a 100% glance rate, and a punchy headline can deliver its message even as the card is being thrown away.”
Today, planned giving postcards are pretty much industry standard best practice, and, as Tom Ahern mentions, the newsletter is widely recognized as a “death brochure” with one foot in the grave. Studies show this is true.
And besides, you can send out twice as many postcards on the same budget as one newsletter. Marketing 101: the more “touches” the better.
It’s a proactive field focusing on the future. And the benefits are huge. I have seen 6 months of planning generate millions of dollars in revenue within a few years.
In my past life, my focus was on annual gifts where I saw fundraisers chase $100 and $1,000 gifts month after month, experiencing the same unrewarding routine year after year. Although annual gifts are important because they cultivate planned giving prospects, it is still a very reactive field, based on the “I want it now” philosophy. Every young fundraiser needs to experience annual giving, but there is a time you have to move on. You can do both, but you should place your main focus on major and planned gifts.
I decided to be among the 5% that graduates to planned giving from annual giving. Here’s how I started.
In addition to developing superior planned giving marketing and lead generation tools, the most strategic business decision we made a few years ago was to acquire the domain PlannedGiving.com, the website you are currently on. The second and third smartest were to purchase PlannedGiving.Net and PlannedGiving.Org, which we use to maximize search engine optimization for our clients.
We recently acquired MajorGifts.com and are in the process of introducing accredited planned giving courses and training. We also operate Bequests.com and PlannedGiving.Wiki.
VIKEN MIKAELIAN, CEO
PlannedGiving.com was founded in 1998 and here’s how I got into Planned Giving.