Approach Donors Holistically: Integrate Planned and Major Gifts

Approach Donors Holistically: Integrate Planned and Major Gifts

August 23, 2016 by John T. Keith, J.D.

Donors don’t compartmentalize their philanthropy in the same way that an organization distributes staff responsibilities on an org chart. As organizations are cultivating their prospects and having conversations with them about potential gifts, the conversation needs to be holistic – integrating annual, planned and major gifts into the discussions when appropriate based on the donors’ needs.

Has your development operation fully integrated major and planned giving?

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Several generational, demographic, and financial trends demonstrate the interest and capacity among donors to make planned gifts. One of the best ways to ensure your organization is positioned to benefit, is to integrate planned giving into your major and annual gift programs.

  • Current estimates indicate $63.5 trillion in total private wealth in the US.
  • The US Census estimates that only about 5% of that wealth is held in cash. This means donors have many more non-cash resources available.
  • Experts estimate a coming wealth transfer of nearly $60 Trillion, with about $17 trillion estimated to come to charities.
  • Members of the Silent and Great generation are now retired and are transferring their wealth to their Boomer children.
  • The large Boomer generation is now at the point where many are beginning to retire and sell businesses and diversify their assets.

As Paul Schervish, a groundbreaking researcher into wealth transfer, has for many years advised, it is important to talk to donors about all of their assets, not only their cash assets.

Schervish stresses that with only 5% of the wealth in the country held in cash, fundraisers are leaving significant assets on the table if they are not exploring non-cash assets.

Many charities don’t feel comfortable having conversations with donors about transferring or donating non-cash assets. But, we need to recognize that donors are more likely to pass on a non-cash asset at death, than they are during their lifetime, making these assets a perfect planned giving opportunity.

Organizations also need to recognize that as they are cultivating their prospects and having conversations with them about potential gifts the conversation needs to be holistic – integrating annual gifts, major gifts, and planned gifts into the discussions. Gift officers should be trained to have those conversations.

Planned giving should also be fully integrated into your communication and marketing plans. Because planned giving is not just an avenue for major gift prospects, communicate and educate all of your constituents about planned gift opportunities with your organization.

Whether you have a seasoned planned giving program or are just beginning, now is a great time to make sure you are integrating planned gifts into your development program.

Want to learn best practices for integrating planned gifts throughout your development program? Download our FREE e-book!