affinity blog

Starting a planned giving program is one of the ways that nonprofits can ensure they get the major gifts they need to serve their mission effectively. Not only does it positively serve the nonprofit, it also benefits the donors who bequeath a gift to a worthy cause they’re passionate about.

Receiving the planned gifts that you need is all about finding the right donors, which is where iWave can help. We offer industry-leading fundraising solutions that draw from billions of data points to help you find donors with the capacity, affinity, and propensity to match your planned giving program.  

We can also help you put together a successful planned giving marketing campaign, so your preferred donors can find you too. If you’re trying to promote your program, there are five planned giving marketing strategies we recommend following:

  1. Get to know your donors with comprehensive fundraising intelligence
  2. Lay a strong foundation with a detailed marketing plan
  3. Get focused and brand your program
  4. Update your current marketing materials
  5. Keep donors emotionally engaged

1. Know Your Donors with Actionable Fundraising Intelligence

Marketing to the right people is the key to successfully advertising your planned giving program. That’s where our innovative platform can boost your program. We’ll help you identify donors’:

  • Affinity (interest in giving)
  • Capacity (ability to give)
  • Propensity (history of giving)

Our unique platform uses Descriptive Analytics to give donors an individual iWave score and help you segment and prioritize prospects. From there, you’ll gain actionable insights on how to engage those prospects.

Use Wealth Screening to Discover Your Donors’ Capacity to Give

Wealth screening is a vital part of prospect research. This is a practice that can help you determine which prospective donors have the capacity to donate to your cause—and how much. Then, you can cultivate those donors.

When you’re performing a wealth screening, you’ll want to look at philanthropic and wealth indicators like:

  • Past Giving: Whether or not the prospect has given to similar organizations before
  • Nonprofit Involvement: Whether the prospect has been actively involved with any similar causes
  • History with Your Organization: How frequently the donor has contributed to your organization in the past through time or monetary donations
  • Real Estate Ownership: The number of homes the prospect owns and their cumulative value
  • Stock Ownership: The number and value of stocks owned by the prospect
  • Business Affiliations: Whether or not the prospect works as part of a company that matches gifts

By effectively using a wealth screening tool, you’ll not only be able to identify prospective major donors, but you’ll also be able to better plan direct asks. The wealth screening platform from iWave can help you determine how much a prospective donor can give. This way, no money is left on the table.

Use Our Industry-First Multi-Lens Scoring Feature to Uncover Donor Affinity

At iWave, we offer an exclusive Multi-Lens Scoring feature. It allows you to see your prospective donors through up to five different lenses to determine their affinity, propensity, and capacity to make a major donation to your cause. This feature can help you:

  • Identify your top prospects for planned gifts
  • Reduce your research time
  • Discover new donors

Here’s how it works: Start by screening your list based on your customizable preferences. You can sort, filter, and group your donors based on their interest in giving, their ability to give, and their history of giving to organizations like yours. You can also set your own wealth capacity ranges, among other settings.

Then, view your results through up to five different scoring lenses that you assign based on your nonprofit’s needs. With these lenses in place, our platform can determine a new, more targeted iWave score.

What sets this feature apart is its ability to determine a donor’s affinity in addition to their capacity. For example, a donor may have the funds to leave a major donation, but may not have a passion for your organization’s mission. So, this donor may take longer to nurture than someone who already has an affinity for your cause, in addition to the capacity to give to it.

By using Multi-Lens Scoring, you’ll identify those specific donors who have the ability and desire to give to your organization.

Want to learn more about how Multi-Lens Scoring can help you identify the right donors for your planned giving program? Reach out to iWave to get your free assessment!

2. Lay a Strong Foundation: Planning Your Marketing Campaign

While you may be excited to kick off your program and start collecting donations, careful preparation is the best way to ensure a successful planned giving marketing campaign. Before you dive in, take a moment to chat with your team about exactly how you’re going to get the word out about your program.

During this time, you’ll want to:

  • Set a budget
  • Speak to your board
  • Use prospect research to identify your donors
  • Talk to marketing experts
  • Make a plan

Set Clear Intentions

When developing the marketing strategy for your planned giving program, you’ll first want to consider the following to help guide you forward:

  • What type of marketing materials you want to create and distribute
  • The key demographics for your marketing materials
  • When you want to distribute planned giving program information

Prospect research is invaluable when determining who you want to target with your planned giving marketing strategy. With iWave’s fully customizable platform, you’ll have access to insights like giving indicators, which will help you identify your top planned giving prospects.

With detailed donor data at your disposal, you’ll also be able to plan more accurate direct asks and get a better picture of your expected marketing budget, all while reducing your overall research time. Furthermore, wealth indicators and biographical data can help you focus your planned giving marketing efforts on the right audience during these early stages.

Budget and Plan

Let your budget guide you when deciding how to promote your planned giving program. Both online and print materials can be highly effective, although printed content will cost more in general. Also take time to decide whether you’ll handle all your marketing in house or work with an outside agency. Account for this in your marketing budget.

Along with this, you’ll want to develop a marketing calendar that spaces out communications regarding your planned giving program, so as not to overwhelm your donor prospects.

When crafting your budget, try to set aside some funds for the unexpected. You can plan your program and budget meticulously, but a few surprise obstacles will always arise. Make sure there are funds set aside for them.

3. Get Focused and Brand Your Program

If you already have a planned giving program or have just developed one, consider giving it its own brand within the larger scope of your organization. This can help your program stand out and become even more recognizable for current and future donors.

Give Your Planned Giving Program its Own Web Page

Begin by creating a unique page on your website specifically for your planned giving program. You’ll want to include key information on this page, like:

  • Basic planned giving definitions
  • A detailed description of each planned giving level
  • Donation milestones
  • Frequently asked questions and answers
  • Testimonials from other donors

Also include a simple contact form where interested donors can reach out to your organization. This is a convenient way to ensure some face-to-face contact with potential donors once they reach out for more information. You may even want to consider an automated or live chat feature on your page where prospects can get their questions answered quickly and personally.

Remember to keep the donor at the front and center of any language you use on your site. This is all about their gift and their legacy. However, you may want to also consider creating a separate section for family members who have questions about a legacy gift left by a loved one.

Use Web Design to Your Advantage

Depending on your team’s experience and expertise, you may want to design your planned giving program’s website page in house or hire outside help. Either way, make sure you devote the necessary time and energy to creating a website page that is:

  • Engaging and informative
  • Visually appealing
  • Clear and concise
  • Easy to navigate

When creating all your marketing materials, including those for planned giving, take care to create virtual content that adapts to both a laptop computer and smartphone device. This means the formatting of the page itself will be automatically altered when viewed on a phone to accommodate the more compact screen.

Don’t underestimate the value of easily digestible information that donors can access from anywhere at any time. It is likely that many of your prospective planned gift givers may be looking at your nonprofit’s planned giving homepage from a mobile device.

There are a variety of ways to format your website page and the sky is the limit in terms of how creative you can be with your content. Whichever way you choose to do so, take care to make sure it embodies your organization’s unique style.

Market Your Planned Giving Program with a Brochure

While the world is increasingly digital, never underestimate the value of marketing materials that you can hold in your hands.

By marketing your planned giving program in a brochure, you’ll give prospects something tangible to take with them after meeting with you. These can also be used effectively for direct mail marketing, or for reaching prospective donors who are less tech-savvy.

You’ll want to include similar information in this brochure as you would on your website, but instead of a chat function or form to fill out, we recommend including a detailed, step-by-step process for the donor to follow in order to make their gift.

An educational brochure for your planned giving program should include:

  1. The definition of a planned gift, as well as definitions for different types of planned gifts, such as a non-cash asset or charitable remainder trust.
  2. Detailed, transparent information on how planned gifts are used by your nonprofit.
  3. Quotes and testimonials from donors who have committed to a planned gift in the future or from their family members.
  4. Planned giving program membership benefits that may encourage prospective legacy gift givers.
  5. A clear, step-by-step guide on how to leave a planned gift to your organization.

If you have the necessary resources, also consider making a different brochure for each planned giving option that you offer. This will allow donors to dive deeper into any programs that may interest them.

We highly recommend making any brochures you have available in PDF versions that can be downloaded from your website. That way, you can appeal to the full range of your audience who may be seeking information through a variety of mediums.

Create a Logo

Everybody loves a good visual. By creating a unique logo specifically for your planned giving program, you’ll be able to differentiate it from other levels of the donor pyramid. You can then incorporate this unique logo into marketing materials that’ll help it stand out.

You may even want to consider a catchy motto that can appeal to the emotions of your potential donors.

To maximize the success of your planned giving marketing strategy, it’s also important to maintain a consistent brand message across all your communications. In particular, the portion of your brand centered around your planned giving program should present a compelling answer to the why behind donating a planned gift to your organization.

4. Update Your Current Marketing Materials

If you have a planned giving program, then you need to advertise it. While you may want to take time to create some unique materials specifically for your program—like a website or brochure—you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel.

By incorporating a simple, to-the-point paragraph about planned giving opportunities throughout your marketing materials, you can plant the idea into the minds of current and prospective donors. Marketing channels your organization already uses, such as emails, newsletters, donation pages, fundraising events, and annual reports are the ideal places to integrate your new planned giving blurb.

If your current marketing program is far-reaching, then you already have a good vehicle for getting the word out about the planned giving options at your organization. There are several ways you can tell donors about their planned giving options, including:

  • Advertising planned giving in your next email campaign
  • Including it in your next newsletter, along with testimonials
  • Including planned giving in your annual reports
  • Adding a planned giving section to the donations page on your website

Start a Blog

If you don’t already have a blog, then this may be a good time to start one. If you do already have a blog, then start writing more articles and blog posts about planned giving. You can provide a valuable resource to your readers who may be looking for answers to their questions, like:

  • How can I pick a planned gift that fits me?
  • What types of planned gifts are available?
  • What are the benefits of leaving a planned gift?
  • How will my gift be used?
  • How do I leave a planned gift?

Answering these questions for your readers can eliminate some of the confusion around leaving a major gift in their will or trust.

You could also use your blog as an opportunity to highlight certain planned gifts and provide testimonials from donors to highlight your program. Plus, by showing the many ways that your organization uses planned gifts to serve your mission, more donors may be persuaded to contribute.

Update Your Events Calendar

Another way to get the word out about your planned giving program is to offer information sessions for potential donors. Similar to the blog, this provides a direct resource for answering questions and can even help you get face-to-face with your donors.

If you want to reach donors from outside of your immediate area, you can make your informational sessions virtual too. Be sure to update your events calendar on your website and let your email list know about any upcoming events.

Give Clear Direction

One of the goals of marketing your planned giving program is to encourage and motivate donors to establish recurring gifts. For a donor to give, they’ll need a clear, convenient route to do so.

For this reason, you should always include a direct call to action in all your planned giving marketing materials. To draw more attention to this, create an easy-to-click button that directs your donors to the next step. The easier it is for people to make a contribution, the more likely they will be to take concrete action in the moment.

When creating this call-to-action button, consider using a catchy phrase, such as “Increase Your Impact with a Recurring Gift,” as opposed to the standard “Donate” or “Donate Now.” This will evoke the emotional connection that makes up the foundation of your planned giving program as a whole.

For printed materials, include clear, step-by-step directions for exactly how to leave your organization a major gift. You may also want to make sure that a member of your planned giving program’s team is available for one-on-one support for those donors who may want a more personalized approach.

5. Keep Donors Emotionally Engaged

You already know that a planned gift from a donor is going to have a lasting impact on your organization’s ability to reach your goals and serve your purpose. Many donors with a passion for your cause will be happy to support it.

However, it’s important to also make it clear to the donor that their gift will have a benefit to them and their family as well. Just some of the benefits that a donor will receive from making their gift include:

  • Potential tax deductions
  • Control over how the money is spent
  • Leaving a legacy

For many donors, especially long-term donors who have given to your organization for years, a planned gift is a way for their legacy to live on after they’re gone, by providing funding and resources to an organization and cause they’re passionate about.

By reminding them of the benefits legacy gifts can offer, you’ll keep your donors emotionally engaged and more inclined to bequeath a gift to your organization in their will or trust.

Use Emotional “You” Language to Speak Directly to the Individual

Remember that planned giving is a gift that a donor makes for the future, to be given after they’ve passed. This kind of decision carries a certain amount of emotional weight, and can be a sensitive subject, so it’s important to use sentimental language that speaks to the donor’s emotions, where appropriate.

While it may be tempting to systematically list out all the ways that planned giving can benefit the donor, we find that an emotional appeal tends to do the trick much more effectively while also remaining mindful of the emotional weight of a legacy gift.

Try using the second person and addressing your marketing materials to “you” instead of “he or she.” This positions the prospects reading the material as the main character of the story. Speaking from the heart serves to foster an emotional connection before going into details related to taxes and financial planning that accompany a planned gift.

Make sure the words you choose put the donor front and center, positioning them as a pillar of your nonprofit. It’s crucial to keep in mind that the passing of a donor can be a very difficult time for their loved ones. Choose your words wisely to reflect your respect. Broach the topic delicately, as well as sentimentally.

Show the Real-Life Impact of Their Donation

Remember, your planned giving marketing materials and methods will have a much greater impact if they are rooted in your cause. Make this the center of your planned giving program to turn prospects into major-gift givers. Show them the exact power of their support!

Highlight things like:

  • Ways planned gifts enable your nonprofit to realize its mission year after year
  • Testimonials, quotes, interviews, or video content of current program members
  • Exclusive perks, such as merchandise or a voice in the decision-making process

Getting as specific as possible with details like these only serves to make your planned giving program more attractive and appealing to your prospects. Consistently bring the focus back to the lasting impact a planned gift has with examples of what your nonprofit will be able to accomplish.

It can help to provide testimonials from a group that has benefited from planned gifts through your organization. You can also provide a specific roadmap for how the donor’s gift is going to impact the community at large.

Not only does this provide the prospective donor with a long-range vision, it also helps them connect with the legacy they leave behind.

Schedule Face-to-Face Meetings

Whenever you’re approaching a prospective donor about planned giving, it’s best to do so face-to-face, either virtually or in person. Planned gifts are often major gifts, so the donor should be treated to individualized attention from you and your team.

By meeting with a donor face-to-face, you’ll be able to more effectively appeal to what’s important to them and speak to their passions individually. Plus, if they have specific questions about the more complex parts of planned giving, you’ll be there to clear up any confusion and help make the process of leaving a planned gift as simple and convenient as possible.

Practice Strong Stewardship

Stewardship is key when you’re creating an emotional connection with your prospective donors. This refers to nurturing your planned gift donors and their families between the time they bequest a gift to your organization and their passing.

This can be tricky because you don’t always know that someone is leaving you a planned gift until they’ve already passed on. That’s why we recommend making it part of your marketing program to encourage donors to notify your organization when they intend to leave you a gift.

Creating a legacy program is one of the best ways to encourage donors to disclose their gift early. This gives donors a sense of exclusivity and belonging with your organization while also providing your program with additional credibility.

Once you have this program in place, you can take good care of these donors by periodically reaching out or even doing a spotlight on select donors in your next newsletter.

You should be aware, however, that many of the donors in your planned giving program will have already passed by the time you learn about their gift. In this case, you can still acknowledge and thank them in several ways, like:

  • Creating a donor recognition wall or other display
  • Including planned gift acknowledgements in your newsletter or emails
  • Personally reaching out to the donor’s loved ones to thank them

You can get creative in the ways that you show appreciation for all your donors—those who are still with us and those who have passed. However you decide to practice stewardship, you can spotlight it as a part of your planned giving marketing to encourage others to leave a gift and tell you about it early on.

Always remember to acknowledge your donors solemnly and with respect to any grief their loved ones may be feeling.

What Is Planned Giving?

Now that you know how to market your planned giving program, let’s take a moment for a little refresher on the basics.

Planned giving, commonly referred to as legacy giving, allows philanthropic donors to make a donation for an unspecified later date, after they have passed on. It is part of the donor’s financial or estate plan, rather than their discretionary income. Along with that, planned gifts can be made while a donor is alive or at the time of their passing.

These high-impact gifts can make a monumental difference when it comes to the overall success of your organization, so be sure to prioritize these donors accordingly. 

Must-Know Planned Giving Terminology

While you’re marketing your planned giving program, it’s important to always use the correct terminology. By explaining some of these important concepts in simple terms, you’ll be able to speak more directly to your prospective donors without complicated jargon getting in the way.

It’s also a good idea to include definitions for some of the most relevant terms on your marketing materials, like your website or planned giving brochure. This can help prospective donors understand what you’re offering with your program, as well as how to get the most out of it.   

Some common planned giving terminology includes:

Beneficiary: The beneficiary is the person or organization receiving funds as deemed by a will or contract (like insurance). In this case, your organization will be the beneficiary of any planned gift left to you by a donor.

Secondary Beneficiary: If the beneficiary isn’t available to receive a particular sum of money, then it goes to the person or organization named as the secondary beneficiary. Sometimes, donors will name a nonprofit organization as a secondary beneficiary in the event their primary beneficiary has passed before they can receive the funds.

Bequest Intention: Planned giving prospects can be difficult to locate, since they don’t need to notify the organization that they’re leaving a gift. They can simply write the gift into their will. However, sometimes donors will notify the organization that they’re leaving a gift in the form of a non-binding bequest intention. In terms of marketing, it’s a good idea to encourage bequest intentions, so you can properly thank the donor while they’re still with us. It also allows you to collect testimonials and encourage other donors to leave a planned gift.

Planned Gift Notification: Not to be confused with a bequest intention, a planned gift notification is the notice your organization receives once the planned gift has come to fruition.

Bequest Expectancy: This is a projection of revenue you expect to collect from planned gifts in the future. This projection is often done based on your organization’s past planned gifts.

Charitable Bequest: Charitable bequests are when a donor leaves a gift to a charity as part of their trust, will, or estate plan. These kinds of gifts can be a specific amount where a donor allocates a set amount of funds. It can also be given as a remainder after all other bequests are distributed or as a percentage of the donor’s total wealth.

Charitable Gift Annuity: If your prospects are high-net-worth, then you may want to ask them to give a charitable gift annuity. In this arrangement, the donor gives the nonprofit a large amount of money. Annually, the organization will deliver that donor a set income until they’ve passed. At that point, the organization can keep the remaining funds.

Charitable Remainder Trust: With a charitable remainder trust, the donor gives the remainder of their trust to an organization, after the terms of the trust are complete. This kind of gift may take years for the organization to receive because the terms of the trust typically aren’t complete until all recipients have also passed.

Codicil: A codicil is a legal document that amends areas of a previously written will. This is how some donors will modify their will to include a planned gift to an organization.

Non-Cash Asset: A non-cash asset is any gift given to your organization that isn’t cash or cash-equivalent. It can include life insurance policies, property, or retirement accounts. 

Present Value: The present value refers to current net worth. It’s a way to figure the value of a donation. Consider that a donation with a present value of $10,000 made today will be much more valuable than one made in the future, after inflation and other factors.

Fair Market Value: This is the estimate of how much an asset or piece of property is worth. You can use this to determine expected planned gifts based on a donor’s assets.

Real Property: Land and any other permanent property on that land are considered real property. This refers to any property that cannot be moved, like an estate and the house on that estate.

Split Interest Gifts: Split interest gifts are partial gifts wherein the donor doesn’t give the whole of the gift to your organization. This is common for gifts in the form of real property.

Implement Planned Giving Strategies to Find the Right Donors Today

Planned gifts can be a lucrative source of funding for nonprofit organizations like yours. Receiving the major donations you need to meet your goals is all about identifying the right donors and then getting the right information in front of them.

If your organization wants to implement some of these planned giving marketing strategies, iWave can help you get started by working with you to identify the donors with the right affinity, capacity, and propensity. We offer a personalized onboarding process and unlimited support to help you get started, so reach out for your free demo today!