There’s No Secret. It’s Common Sense Planned Giving

A prospect recently asked me whether they should do “research-based planned giving” — popular buzzwords in our industry these days.

“What are the stats these days? Any research?”

Sure, we can all do research. And we do it anyway to stay on top of things …

But what’s the question about planned giving that we want answered by research? Are our donors going to die? Will the government get a substantial portion of their assets if they don’t make other arrangements?  At what age do they stop giving?

Seems like we already know the answers to these questions. We don’t need any more academic studies and cogitation to further micro dissect what we know and to tell us that what we have to offer is something people need: ways to maximize tax savings and benefit the causes they care deeply about.

Mark Twain once commented, “People commonly use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post; for support rather than illumination.”

Calling for research is a way of avoiding what you know you need to do: just start promoting (the “doing”) planned gifts and not pondering (the “collecting of endless stats”). It’s that simple. But sometimes it’s hard to be simple: read why.

New Technology.  Same Old People.

Not much has changed over the last 10 years, and promoting that “new significant trends” exist in planned giving (and that you should pay a consultant to find out what they are) is nothing but natural fertilizer.

Indulging in research is a form of seeking perfection, which is a form of procrastination. There’s a lot you can do now that is simple and cheap to promote planned gifts.

All You Need is … Common Sense.

How many times have you heard, “I’m living on a fixed income,” or “We don’t have enough cash to make a gift”?  The answer is, start with…

A Simple Planned Gift.

How do you present planned gifts in ways that appeal to your “average” donors?  Begin with “gifts anyone can afford”… the “no hassle” gifts that don’t affect lifestyle and require little or no professional advice.

These gifts make up over 80% of all planned gifts and are inexpensive and easy to market. If you need language to market them, you can get it here.

Bequests:  Drafting a will is a simple process that many people go through.  Find every way you can to keep the idea of the good a bequest will do in front of your loyal donors.

Appreciated Assets: Many assets that grow over time provide very little cash flow.  A large gift to your charity may cost the donor very little income, and funding a gift annuity with that asset should increase the donor’s income. In addition, donating assets that cost money to maintain, like real estate, coupled with receiving a deduction, could be very appealing.

Retirement Plans: Encourage donors to name your charity as the beneficiary, which won’t cost them anything while they’re alive. Besides, these are taxed heavily if passed on to heirs.

Life Insurance: Another “no hassle, no cost” gift.

Basically, regardless of the calls for more research to pry into the supposed intricacies of the planned giving market, it’s not rocket science. It’s not esoteric, and it’s not complicated. In fact, the approach to promoting your planned gifts that works best is the simple – and inexpensive – one. It’s the one you can undertake right away with smart marketing that sells the sizzle.

It’s no secret.


Still need “facts”? These have been around for years and not much has changed. Decide for yourself if you want to use them for support or illumination.

  • 43% of bequests and 35% of remainder trusts are created by individuals 55 and younger.
  • 15% of all planned gifts are made by those 45 and younger.
  • The typical planned giving target is 200-300 times a donor’s largest annual fund gift.
  • Your planned giving pool may be as much as 5 times larger than your capital giving pool.
  • Donors find they can be more generous with non-cash gifts because of additional tax benefits.
  • AARP has 35-million members, and that’s expected to double by 2015.
  • Over 75% of donors give to a cause that’s affected them or a  member of their family.
  • Chances of leaving you in their will drops dramatically after 65.
  • Americans read their mail standing over a wastebasket. Where is your direct mail going?

Category: Planned Giving Marketing

All of our blogs, products and services are proudly conceived, created, reviewed, and disseminated by real humans — not A.I. (artificial “intelligence.”)

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