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Claire's Coffee Time Quick Tip #1: Perk up your planned giving instantly!

by: Allison Sanka on

PGM's Editorial Director Claire Meyerhoff brings her "Coffee Time Planned Giving" presentation to AFP and other nonprofit groups around the country. She enjoys sharing her simple, fun and effective ideas for perking up your nonprofit's planned giving outreach and most her ideas will cost you absolutely nothing but a little time. Following is the first in a series of Quick Tips for your planned giving marketing campaigns. We hope you enjoy them and find them useful!

Allison Sanka (like the coffee)
Director of Marketing Operations

Claire's Coffee Time Quick Tip #1: Perk up your planned giving instantly!

This Quick Tip is something you — the busy fundraiser — can implement QUICKLY. Just pour a cup of coffee, read the tip, then do it! Right now, some of your favorite long-time donors have three charities in their will and yours is NOT one of them. That's because no one from your org has asked them in person, online or in print… 

Quick Tip — Grind up that OLD boilerplate bequest message and brew up something NEW!  

(Note:  this week's Quick Tip, our placeholder, fictitious charity is "General Hospital."  Paging Dr. Quartermaine!)

Old! You've seen it a million times, hunkered down at the bottom of a newsletter or anchoring a fundraising appeal. It's the boilerplate bequest message:

Remember General Hospital in your will.

It just sits there. At the end. Like death itself. 

Yes, it's better than nothing. Yes, you've done it this way for 37 years. But it's like saying "have a nice day," and doesn't engage your prospective bequest donor. What do you expect them to do after reading this? Run to their attorney? Call you? Did you tell them how to call you? Did you put your phone number there? Did you tell them why they should call you? Maybe. Maybe not.

New! The next time you're doing your newsletter, engage your donor with a question:

Is General Hospital in your will?

Right out of the gate, you're engaging your donor with a question and triggering a more lively thought process. "Is it in my wil? Really? Do I have a will?" People put the hospital in their will? " By begging a question, you're guiding the reader towards some kind of answer, and maybe the answer will be….

"Yes."

Yes! That's the answer you want the most! There are two types of your constituents who will read this question and think, "Yes," and both are fantastic. One is the bequest donor KNOWN to you — and your question prompts her to think "Yes! I have done that, I have my charitable act together!" It affirms her action. The other donor who thinks "yes" is the bequest donor who is UNKNOWN to you. So for him, he needs a little prompt to raise his hand:

Is General Hospital in your will?

If the hospital is in your will or other estate plans and you have yet to inform us, would you please take a moment and call me?  Even if you wish for your bequest to remain anonymous, it's important to let us know so that we can ensure your gift will be used exactly as you intend. We would also like to send you a thank you gift. If you're still making estate plans, I can provide you with all the information you need. 

Thank you!

Bobbie Spencer, Director of Development

555-123-4567 | Bspencer@GeneralHospital.orb

This example has all the "Call to action" you need. See how this also speaks to the "haven't done it yet crowd?" This one brief blurb packs a lot of planned giving punch. I've seen an organization take up a whole page in a newsletter to explain their entire planned giving program, and if any donors had bothered to read it, they wouldn't have known WHAT to do next.

Use the format I've given you here and you can place this boilerplate language in many of your existing communication platforms. 

• In a newsletter inside a nice graphic design treatment
• Annual report
• On a buck slip to include with appeals and other mailings
• House of worship  program 
• On your Facebook page (stay tuned for another Coffee Time tip to show you a great way to do this)
• On a postcard mailed to a group of top planned giving prospects
• In some communities, for certain organizations (hospitals, ASPCA and other "iconic" orgs) you may consider making this into an advertisement and buying ad space in a local paper or special-interest publication.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my easy way to perk up your planned giving! If you're a program coordinator for your local AFP or other group, I'd be happy to bring the entire Coffee Time Planned Giving presentation to your meeting or conference. Feel free to contact me by email to discuss dates.

Enjoy!
Claire

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