(But Most Nonprofits Still Don’t Get It)

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.

Viken Mikaelian makes a critical case about the importance of planned giving. He states that it’s not about money, yet about something much more critical and deeper.

Many people are always counting on the “jackpot” — whether it’s in the dating scene or the fundraising scene. Somehow, in a humorous way, Karen makes an analogy between the two. The funny thing is…it really makes sense!

  • What do many single women want? Same thing many fundraisers want.
  • What is “rich”?
  • Who is “rich”?
  • Do you really know the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire?
  • Many “average” millionaires do not have that much spare cash.

An opinion from Steve Perry, Director of Planned Giving at Furman University. This article helps you decide whether you should have a planned giving website or not.

  • Limited budgets always place planned giving on the back burner.
  • There is an online audience
  • It’s great for the “silent donor”
In 2002, we published Seniors on the Internet. It was a pleasant surprise to the fundraising community. Here is a follow up to that paper. By Rick Gabe with Viken Mikaelian, CEO, PlannedGiving.com
  • Are seniors online?
  • Who uses social media?
  • What income group uses broadband?
  • Who has the money to give?
  • What does the 50+ age group control?

Bequests can easily become a fundamental part of your organization. Brian Sagrestano explains why you should spend the time to promote them.

  • Charities with consistent bequest programs usually receive 25% or more of their individual gift receipts as a result from bequests.
  • Even in a down economy, bequests continue to mature.
  • Bequests have a broad appeal, with donors ages 40-60 more likely to consider them than those over 60.

It is a mistake to go through a few simple steps as thanks to a donor. Mindy Aleman and Jim Pierson examine how to take your relationship with donors to the next level.

  • Many donors wish for more engagement from their nonprofits.
  • Part of that engagement should include clearly laying out how the donor’s gifts will be used.
  • Whether the nonprofit is small and local or large and national, steps can easily be taken to better interact with donors.

Fundraisers are in the business of marketing, meaning they have an overwhelming amount of competition for customers’ attention. Viken Mikaelian examines how to cut through that confusion and reach potential customers.

  • Simplicity works best and allows your message to be delivered again and again through different formats.
  • Even a complex idea can be boiled down into less than 150 words.

Many companies make the mistake of relying almost entirely on e-marketing to attract customers, leaving print media abandoned. However, print media, such as direct mail, continues to prove itself as an effective means to reach new customers.

  • Marketers initially assumed younger generations would respond better to digital campaigns, but later found that to be incorrect.
  • It is important to consider the evidence before applying another marketer’s plan and not simply rely on their advice.
  • Good judgment comes from experience. Unfortunately, experience comes through bad judgment.
  • There is always more than one way to get downtown.
  • Business should be fun
  • Never forget the 40-40-20 rule of direct marketing.
  • Creativity alone won’t make you rich.
  • Prospects are bombarded with offers every day, they focus only on a narrow margin of messages
  • It’s a lot of work.
  • No one can do it better than you can.
  • Do you have the time?
  • Who is raising money? Or, are they?

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.

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.

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.

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 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.