The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Planned giving reply cards: tip #1

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Are we treating our planned giving donors like friends or strangers?  Sadly, we often treat them as strangers in spite of the fact that planned giving donors and prospects are typically some of our most loyal supporters.  Most planned giving newsletters include a reply card.  Usually, the donor is invited to send back the card to request further information on the type of gift being highlighted or to indicate whether she has already named the organization in her estate plan or would consider doing so.

The problem is that most organizations, rightly, continue to include their legacy society members in their newsletter marketing but because the reply card is usually designed as one-size-fits-all, the organization receives reply cards (repeatedly) from legacy society donors saying “I’ve already told you you’re in my will!.”  We are annoying some of our very best donors!  And because some planned gifts are revocable, if we alienate the donor, we may forfeit her gift in favor of another organization who is being more respectful.

Wouldn’t it be better to customize the reply cards for legacy society members?  Even if the number is small relative to the size of the mailing, these donors are worth the extra effort.  You could use the reply card to offer donors opportunities to engage or to deepen their relationship with you.  Why not use the reply card to allow the donor to request a visit or ask for a tour?

Or, use the space to collect information about the donor’s specific interests. For example, if you’re an international relief organization, ask which specific geographic area is of most interest to the donor or whether clean water, agriculture, or maternal and child health is most important to her.

You can (and should) apply this same philosophy to other audiences, for example, monthly donors.  If your monthly donors are part of your planned giving marketing audience, recognize them as such as you’ll see the benefit in your response.  The bottom line is this:  “Show ’em that you know ’em.”  Make sure your communication is targeted and relevant and your donors will respond accordingly.  And, best of all, these are things you can safely “just do.”  No need to test.

Phyllis

P.S.  I’ll expand on other donor reply card tips in future posts.

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Written by Phyllis Freedman

April 27, 2009 at 11:41 am

One Response

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  1. […] Make sure that reply cards for your Legacy Society members include checkboxes that offer opportunities for engagement such as a visit to your facility, if appropriate, or a call/visit from a staff person to explain “how my gifts are having an impact.”  I wrote about this previously. […]


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