How Do You Start a Planned Giving Program?

A planned giving program creates an opportunity for your organization to receive the major gifts it needs while also allowing donors to cement their legacy. So, how do you start a planned giving program?

By deciding to create a planned giving program, you’re well on your way. For the rest of it, iWave can help. We provide innovative and comprehensive fundraising intelligence and analytics with actionable insights that can help you identify the donors who are mostly likely to contribute.

Are you ready to start? Get your planned giving program off the ground with three easy steps:

  1. Identify your prospective donors
  2. Create a plan and approach the board
  3. Launch and market your program

Let’s start with part one—our bread and butter: Identifying your prospective donors.

Update: We have published a detailed guide on planned giving that you can read.

Identify Your Prospective Donors

In the business world, market research is the key to launching any new product or program. In the nonprofit world, we do this through prospect research. By using a fundraising intelligence platform for this, you’ll be able to uncover new donors more effectively, plan more accurate direct asks, and reduce your research time.

At iWave, we offer a next-generation platform that leverages a modern design and intuitive layout to help you identify, cultivate, and retain donors, so you can raise more gifts. That includes identifying the donors who are most likely to provide your organization major donations in the form of planned gifts.

With our platform, you’ll have access to the industry’s highest-quality, most comprehensive datasets, including donors’ wealth, biographic, and philanthropic records, so you can find out:

  • Who is interested in giving
  • Who has the ability to give
  • Who has a history of giving

Identify New Donors with Wealth Screening

In addition to helping you understand your current donors even better, wealth screening platforms can help you identify new donors who you may not have reached out to before. What sets iWave apart is that, after you’ve screened your data, one click can create profiles for top prospects that you’ve identified and verified.

This profile provides action-driven insights that can help you to:

  • Generate a data-driven ask amount
  • Build a deeper relationship with the prospective donor

By generating a data-driven ask amount, you can be sure that no money will be left on the table when approaching prospective donors about major gift donations, like a planned gift. You’ll know exactly how much they’re able to give.

It’s not just about knowing how much a donor can give. With our innovative, data-driven fundraising solutions, you’ll also know who is already interested in giving to your organization. In other words, you’ll know who has an affinity for your cause.

The affinity score is an iWave-exclusive feature that can help you pinpoint those donors who are both willing and able to make a planned gift to your organization!

iWave Screening also delivers a Planned Giving Score for every individual screened. Planned Giving Scores from iWave are the first of their kind in the industry. Think any planned giving score or rating you are familiar with but reimagined and made smarter and more predictive. iWave’s new planned giving scores enable you to do even more including generating planned giving scores at the profile level for donors. If you want to see iWave’s Planned Giving Scores in action, reach out to iWave to schedule a personalized demo!

Using Multi-Lens Scoring to Identify Your Donors

Multi-Lens Scoring is a new iWave feature that revolutionizes how you identify donors.  This feature allows you to view your prospects through up to five different lenses of your choosing based on your donors’:

  • Affinity
  • Capacity
  • Propensity

Lenses you can choose include a prospect’s membership, their education, their wealth, as well as the causes they’re interested in. With these lenses in place, our platform will assign them an iWave score and provide actionable insights to help you determine their likelihood of offering your organization a major gift.

Want to see Multi-Lens Scoring in action? Reach out to iWave and request a free demo!

Create a Plan and Approach the Board

Now that you’ve identified the donors who would be likely to leave your organization a planned gift, it’s time to make a plan for your new program and get it off the ground. Start by answering some questions that are essential to building your business plan, like:

  • What kind of planned gifts you’ll accept
  • Your overall budget for the program
  • Policies and guidelines you’ll need to implement
  • Team members you’ll need to bring on board to help

Once you have a basic plan in place, you can approach your board members to get them on board with the new program.

Form an Advisory Committee

Next, you’ll want to form an advisory committee to help you get your program up and running. This is usually made up of experts outside of your organization with experience in planned giving. We recommend having the following as part of your advisory committee:

  • A business owner
  • A financial advisor
  • An attorney
  • A board member

This committee will be the backbone of your planned giving program as you build it from the ground up. They’ll help establish policies and procedures, make periodic reports to the board, and help members of the organization understand the planned giving program and its value.

They can also help with prospect identification and marketing, as well as providing guidance as needed.

Hire a Planned Giving Officer

As your planned giving program gets up and running, you’ll need at least one staff member who is solely responsible for running the program. They’ll be in charge of the day-to-day operations of your planned giving program, including tasks like:

  • Leading the planned giving program
  • Identifying and contacting prospects
  • Initiating program branding and marketing
  • Managing stewardship of planned donors after committing to a gift
  • Educating prospective donors about planned giving
  • Tracking planned giving data and reporting it to the board

A good Planned Giving Officer will have at least 10 years of experience in fundraising and experience with managing gifts of $10,000 or more. They should also have a degree or background in finance, sales, or marketing and a history of working with nonprofits.

Launch and Market Your Program

Okay, so you’ve identified your prospective donors, gotten the board on board and built your program—now it’s time for the launch. Make sure to market your program so prospective donors know what’s available.

Add Your Planned Giving Program to Your Website

First things first, you’ll want to add your planned giving program to your website. Start by adding it as an option on your donations page.

You should also give your planned giving program its own page on your website where prospective donors can research more in-depth information. This page can outline a detailed description of each planned giving level, as well as any donation milestones. It should also include:

  • A description of what planned giving is
  • Frequently asked questions (with answers)
  • Testimonials from other donors
  • Instructions on how to leave a planned gift

It’s very important that you include a contact form where interested donors can get in touch with someone from your organization—preferably your Planned Giving Officer or anyone in that department. You can also include an automatic or live chat feature that can answer questions from prospects while they’re browsing your website.

To really make your program stand out, you can even create a custom logo and a tagline or motto!

Tell Your Loyal Donors

If you have donors who have given to you frequently—at least eight years out of the last 12—these are loyal donors who may want to leave behind a lasting legacy once they’ve passed. Reach out to these donors individually with a personal letter. You may even want to schedule face-to-face meetings, either in person or virtually.

When you do, remember that this can be an emotional subject for many. To be sensitive to that, use emotional language that reminds donors that this is their gift and their legacy, and remind them of all the good it can do.

We also recommend using second person (“you”) wherever possible in your marketing materials to address each donor more personally.

Spread the Word About Your Program

Once you’ve reached out personally to your loyal donors, you can start to spread the word far and wide through other marketing avenues, like:

  • Emails to your mailing list
  • Newsletters
  • Annual reports
  • Community publications
  • Social media posts

You can even consider starting a blog or updating your current one with articles about planned giving and how your current program can benefit donors.

While digital marketing can reach a wide audience, you’ll also want to remember your less tech-savvy donors who may prefer printed materials. This is a great opportunity to create a brochure that’s all about your planned giving program.

Make sure to include step-by-step directions on how to promise a donation, as well as clear information on how to contact your organization. You can make a digital version of this to include on your website too.

Related: Get the Planned Giving ebook

Start a Planned Giving Program with Insights from iWave

A planned giving program offers several benefits to nonprofits like yours while also allowing donors to cement their legacy with a major gift. It’s a program that every organization should have in place.

Starting and sustaining a planned giving program is all about finding the right prospects to donate to your organization. It begins with market research, and iWave can help you identify the prospects with the affinity, capacity, and propensity to give to your cause.

If you want to learn more about how our innovative fundraising intelligence solutions can help you start a planned giving program, reach out to iWave. We offer a personalized onboarding process and unlimited support to ensure that you fully understand how to use the billions of data points in our system to launch your planned giving program.

To get started, schedule your free assessment today!

Stay Up-to-date on Fundraising News and Resources

What You Should Do Now

  1. Request a Demo and see how iWave can help your nonprofit organization target the best potential donors.
  2. Read more free material about fundraising topics in our blog.
  3. If you know someone who’d enjoy this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Want a Free Demo of iWave’s Fundraising Intelligence Platform?

Request a Demo