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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

Are Baby Boomers' Estate Planning Behaviors Changing?

by: Allison Sanka on


While we are just beginning to see Boomers retire, this video suggests that many Baby Boomers may have spent, or plan to spend, a good chunk of what they would have given as an inheritance to their children. As mentioned in the video, Baby Boomers are spending their money while they're alive on retirement, healthcare and themselves, mostly out of need. The reality of longer lives and bigger expenses could mean there's less left to leave, or give, in their estate plans. 

There are always creative opportunities and solutions for planned gifts, even when the estate is limited. And of course, if you are seeing this trend emerging, PGM can address it in your direct marketing messaging.

Are you seeing this trend emerging, and what, if any are the implications for planned gifts?



Planned Giving’s ‘Magic Words’

by: Claire Meyerhoff on

Planned Giving’s ‘Magic Words’ 
Learn what they are and find out 3 great ways to use them. 

Are you a fundraiser tasked with creating planned giving marketing communications (letters, postcards, e-newsletter content, newsletter articles, etc.)?

Do you find yourself mired in phrases more mystically passive than magically engaging; phrases like “remember us in your will,” “leave a legacy,” or “consider a gift that may have tax benefits, too”?

Does the latest research about the word ‘bequest’ have you wringing your hands over a better way to say ‘what happens to your stuff when you die’?

Have you heard that somewhere out there that certain “key planned giving messages” will work? That often leads to you and your boss word-smithing a bequest letter into the bore-o-sphere only to spend a full year circulating around the office, being decorated with red circles, black lines and other “edit” marks. No magic words will ever get that letter in the mail…

If you’re looking for planned giving’s magic words, look no further-- you already know them! And as a fundraiser, you use them all the time. You’ve also said them to the waitresses who handed you a cool cocktail, that man who opened the door for you last week, and to your sweet Nana when you she gave you a $5 bill on your 8th birthday…

The Planned Giving Magic Words are…

Thank you.

Finding fresh new ways to say “thank you” is the fastest, clearest, and most authentic way to talk about planned giving with your donors – in person, in your communications, and your specific planned giving appeals.

1. The Magic Words in Person. Don’t know how to ask for a planned gift? Try a “thank you” ask. Thank a donor for his consistent gifts of $25 a year for 25 years. Mention that another donor has given the same amount/number of years is also leaving a charitable bequest to your org. Then say nothing, and see what the donor says. You may be surprised to hear that your org IS IN HIS WILL (but he’s just never told you) or he’s been thinking of updating his plans and hadn’t considered a charity – but he might.

2. The Magic Words in Your Newsletter. Have you been saying “Remember us in your will” in your newsletter for years with no results? Instead, try featuring a photo of the lovely Kathleen, a donor who named your org in her will (even if it was years ago). All you need is a “Thank You, Kathleen” headline and a few short words about Kathleen’s future gift. This simple “thank you” communicates all the key planned giving messages (the real ones!). It shows prospective donors that naming a charity in a will is NORMAL, that your organization values and appreciates this type of gift, and that when people include your org in their will, they share the news and that’s a good thing. Always include a line like, “even if you wish for your gift to remain anonymous, please inform us of your gift.”  No fancy words are necessary because Kathleen’s photo says more than any carefully chosen copy.

3. The Magic Words in Your Planned Giving Appeal. If you truly want more prospects, ditch the “appeal” and instead, say thank you.  And don’t just SAY thank you, also offer a sincere and tangible “thank you” in the form of a gift to uncover your best planned giving prospects and silent donors who have yet to inform you that your org is in their will.

For example, the Yellowstone Park Foundation (YPF), a national organization based in Bozeman, Montana, mailed a Valentine’s Day postcard to 2,525 longtime, loyal donors. This card simply thanked donors for their support over the years and offered a free gift just for visiting a personalized URL (PURL). Upon arriving on their personalized landing page, the donors were asked one question about charitable estate planning before clicking through to receive their gift.

The response was overwhelming. The results are this: more than 190 people who care deeply about preserving Yellowstone Park self-identified as donors indicated they would be interested in making a charitable bequest or other planned gift. Also, with this simple yet effective direct and email campaign, YPF learned of 13 NEW planned gifts. In addition this mailing was also a nice stewardship piece for the client. A typical planned giving marketing appeal may yield an OVERALL response rate (any type of response) of just 3-10%. This YPF “thank you gift” appeal achieved an overall response rate of 33.87% which is astounding in planned giving marketing.

(Learn more about this campaign HERE.)

A few key things to understand about this particular mailing: the card did NOT MENTION planned giving, it did not ask the donor to “consider” anything or offer “more information” about planned giving. The card was sent from the Old Faithful Society (YPF’s legacy society) with the logo and tagline, but other than that had no typical hallmarks of a planned giving mailing.

What this means for you and your organization:

There is so much magic in the two words “thank you” that if you focus on new ways to use them, you will surely secure some very large future gifts for your organization. How large? A Blackbaud study shows the average planned gift in the United States is between $35,000 and $70,000, but if you follow the world of planned giving like I do, you’d routinely hear of  $100,000, $250,000, $500,000 bequests and higher – mainly from everyday people like retired teachers, nurses, firemen.

In our fundraising world, we hear a lot about “donor engagement strategies,” and there is no clearer strategy than the simple “thank you.” 

The “thank you” is effective in many forms of nonprofit marketing because it affirms and validates a donor’s intention – and it’s just plain good manners. Surveys show that many donors don’t feel like they’ve been adequately thanked, so basing a marketing effort on a “thank you” also helps you with your stewardship efforts.

If the real, true goal of your planned giving outreach, engagement, and marketing is to identify prospects, try ditching the tired “planned giving talk” and focus on how you can do more with those two magic words everyone loves to hear…

Thank you.

What Works in Planned Giving Marketing?

by: Claire Meyerhoff on

What Works in Planned Giving Marketing?


 

That's a question we hear every single day here at PGM! What "works" for one organization can be entirely different for another. All nonprofits are different -- and more importantly, so are their donors.

 

But there are some common goals. The organizations we work with all want two things:


1. They want more donors to ‘raise their hand’ and say "YES, I'm including a gift in my will to your organization!"

2. They want more top-tier prospects. These are prospective planned giving donors who are identified as more likely to consider making a deferred gift to your organization and would be open to a conversation or other engagement to move them closer to making the deferred gift.

 

A good planned giving marketing campaign is an authentic, natural extension of your stewardship. Way too often, nonprofits send donors planned giving information that seems completely disconnected from the usual donor communications. The donor is left wondering, “Why is the Springfield Animal Rescue sending me a brochure about something called a “unitrust?”

 

So...what does work? Here’s one thing that works:

 

Reaching and engaging your donor with a compelling offer.

 

Check out this great example of how PGM recently helped one organization identify more planned donors and top-tier prospects...

 

In February, 2,500 personalized mailings arrived in donors mailboxes. These donors were a select segment identified by our client organization. It featured a Valentine’s Day theme and two very important and very simple words--

 

THANK YOU.

 

The personalized postcard was, first and foremost a stewardship piece. Time and time again the research tells us donors don't feel that they're thanked enough-- or in the right way.

 

Because we utilized a personalized strategy, the card thanked the donor by name and then did something quite extraordinary. It asked the donor for...nothing. That's right -- nothing. It didn't ask the donor if the org is in his estate plans, or to consider a planned gift, and it didn't ask the donor if she'd like an estate planning guide or more information.

 

Instead, this card OFFERED a free gift to the donor, simply for being a supporter of the organization. All the recipient had to do to receive their gift was to visit their personalized landing page (also known as a PURL or Personalized URL).

 

There's much more to say about this mailing, like the creative concept, back end logistics, the personalized landing page content and the strategic questions posed to respondents. But you'd probably rather get right to the good stuff and see the results. After all, you want to hear about a planned giving marketing strategy that works, right?!

 

Here are the results:

 

2,524 donors around the country received this personalized mailing. Within one week, we'd heard from 127 donors. One week later, all the "non-responders" received a follow-up email. That very same day, another 153 donors responded. Within two weeks, an additional 221 donors responded.

 

Now, here's the good stuff:

A whopping 33.8% of the 2,524 prospects visited their personalized landing page. 

Right away, this organization learned of TWENTY new planned gifts. 

Right away, this organization had 120 top-tier leads. These were donors who, once they arrived at their personalized landing page, indicated they were interested in a specific planned gift and/or an information kit.

 

The key "What works" takeaways:

A good planned giving marketing campaign is about PROSPECTING. How can you get highly-involved donors to engage a bit more? Some are calling this "engagement marketing", but shouldn't ALL marketing be engaging? We think so and we have the outcome to prove it – and the ROI the client was looking for.

 

Would you like to see exactly what PGM did for this client?  Contact PGM President Jeff Stein at jeff@pgmarketing or 484-680-7600 and he'll tell you more.

 

Thank you!











Love of Radio + Estate Planning = Scholarship

by: Claire Meyerhoff on

It's a wonderful equation that adds up to an important concept for fundraisers in education about channeling a donor's passion into scholarship naming opportunities -- particularly for your planned giving prospects.

Two people in Arkansas who were passionate about broadcasting, and radio in particular, used some smart estate planning to create scholarships for Mass Communications students (with an emphasis on radio) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Dan and Jonnie Winn included a $1.4 million bequest in their trust, which passed to the University after Jonnie Winn died at age 100.  Jonnie was the first licensed woman amateur radio operator in Arkansas. Her husband, the late Dan Winn, was a radio pioneer and a respected industry leader until his death at 86 in 1998. You can read more about them here.

If you're a school development person, scholarships are a specific, tangible way to direct a prospective donor's passion.  Donors may be interested in creating a scholarship of their own, but for the most part, schools don't "advertise" the "cost" of the scholarship.  Many colleges, universities and independent schools have endowed scholarships and other nameable funds starting at $10,000 to $25,000, which is very doable for many donors when that amount is stretched out over five years or even better -- as a planned gift that costs nothing today.

Take Away for you to steal:

In your next alumni magazine article about a new scholarship, like the one honoring the Winn's, include a sidebar "ask" like this. Ask the graphic designer to make sure it stands out:

What will your scholarship be called?
If Faber College is in your will or other estate plans for $25,000 or more, you may be able to name a scholarship after anyone you choose. Please contact Eric Stratton in the Office of Planned Giving, 212-555-1212 or EStratton@FaberCollege.com

Just by including this simple language, you'll be sharing a lot of valuable news with your donors. That's right -- news. Because most graduates and supporters of your school have no idea that they can start an endowed scholarship. They also have no idea that they could do so by leaving that amount in their will. Keep the language simple, tie it to a story and you may get a response!

• • • • •

Play up your Pin!

by: Claire Meyerhoff on

In a perfect fundraising world, all "legacy society" members would proudly wear their pin -- every day -- telling admirers "this means I've put Faber College in my will! Do you have Faber College in your estate plans?"

If your org has a pin for PG donors, here are some Pintastic tips: 

  1. The PIN is perfect for a photo op! You KNOW you need to do more "public relations" for planned giving, so start with a great photo of a donor receiving their pin. Put it on Facebook, Twitter, your website and in a newsletter with a nice little story about WHO is receiving the pin, WHY they're receiving the pin and who is pinning on the pin.
  2. You need extras!  Order extra pins and have them on hand for alumni and other events. True, you did encourage your donors to WEAR their pin, but they're human and they forgot.
  3. The PIN looks great with a special ribbon!  At many alumni and other events, development staff add ribbons of different colors to name tags, denoting donor status.  You can have a special color ribbon AND the PIN, making for a bit of extra zing. Remember, you'll have extra pins on hand : )

• • •

Are you on Twitter?

by: Claire Meyerhoff on

Follow us @PGMarketingBuzz

See some great stories about wonderful people who make bequests and charities receiving planned gifts. Also, learn marketing tips, trends and more.

• • •

Drexel Law receives $50M Gift, including "Large" Bequest

by: Eli Bockol on

Congratulations to our friends, former colleagues and current clients at Drexel University, Office of Gift Planning! Thomas R. Kline's $50 million donation is the largest single gift in the university's 123-year history. The donation includes a large bequest and a gift of real estate to house the Thomas R. Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy of the Kline School of Law.  We know gifts like these require a great amount of time and effort.  And are worth every moment and ounce!

We, as planned giving marketers, are always on the look-out for universal, tell-tale motivations of those who make planned gifts, so we can communicate effectively to all prospects, whether they may give $50 million or $50 thousand.  Both golden eggs; albeit one "ostrich" and one "goose".

Kline is quoted in the Philadelphia Business Journal, "The gift will allow Drexel to attract the best students and faculty and give the school a chance to distinguish itself in what has become a very competitive market."  Here he envisions a story of outcome.

Kline's mentor, also a renowned Philadelphia attorney, James Beasley, Sr., donated $20 million in 1998 to have Temple University rename its law school in his honor. "I was in awe of Jim Beasley and the fact that he made that donation, to his alma mater no less, and thought it was a wonderful tribute by the university to rename the school," Kline said. "So yes, it was in my mind."  Here he envisions himself in the story of example.

Also key to Kline's motivation is the view of trial advocacy as an under-served need.  When asked if the school thought about applying his donation to the construction of a new main law school facility, Kline noted that he wanted the 1200 Chestnut building to be dedicated toward trial advocacy. Here he responds to a story of need.

These are the stories that donors respond to...universally.  So that's how we craft our marketing pieces.

Kline began his career as a 6th grade school teacher in Hazleton, Pa.  He graduated from Albright College, earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. from Lehigh University and Duquesne University School of Law.  He even performed the one-man show "Trial as Theater" at the Wilma Theater. ...Lots of competition for our donor's attention. Yet Drexel University is the recipient of his planned gift.  

Because they understood the "Why" and then worked out the "How."Great work!

• • •

Planned Giving Donor Stories: Add Something Special

by: Claire Meyerhoff on

Do you want to make your planned giving donor stories better?  Add a little something special. A great idea is to include a "Thank you note" from someone who has benefited from a gift. 

In this example from a Diocese of Colorado Springs planned giving news magazine,  the thank you note comes from a student who receives a scholarship directly from the donor. But it doesn't have to be such a literal connection.  Typically, any thank you note will do. We suggest you "edit down" the thank you note to make for a more attractive design.

EXTRA TIP:  The headline for this story isn't "Donor Story."  "Donor Story" is a category -- it's jargon that we in fundraising use as shorthand, like when you ask your co-worker, "Maybe Fran Smith would like to be featured in our next donor story." Please create a unique headline for your story.

EXTRA EXTRA TIP:  The word count for this story is just 180 words.  A good donor story isn't a biography or feature article about the donor's place in the community. It's just about WHY they care so much about what your organization does.

Editor's Note: Thank you to Don and Pat Cloud of Colorado Springs for their time and willingness to be featured in the 2014 edition of Planning Matters.

• • •


Connect with PURLS

by: Claire Meyerhoff on

Are you trying to connect with your long-time, loyal donors to gauge their interest in making a bequest or better yet, encourage them to share some good news? One of the TOP GOALS of your planned giving marketing program should be to encourage "silent" bequest donors to tell you... 

YES! Your organization IS in my will!

PURLs are a great way to connect. Here's how:

  1. Your donor receives an engaging direct marketing piece in the mail, like the one featured here for Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
  2. Your donor also receives an e-mail.
  3. Donor sees their name as a personalized URL (PURL).  For instance, AnnBloom.LoveGR.org.
  4. Donor types their PURL into their browser or from the email, they click on the link with their PURL.
  5. Donor is led offered some attractive options for engagement.
  6. YOU receive valuable information about your donors and in most cases, NEWS about bequests you didn't know about!
For Grand Rapids Community Foundation, PGM designed a beautiful marketing campaign featuring the smiling photo and story of a promising young student, Jenny, who will one day make her community a better place. PGM also produced a companion Loyalty Newsletter.  

See it all HERE in the PGM Design Gallery

• • •

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