The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

What Boomers (donors) want.

with 2 comments

The front page of Wednesday’s Washington Post reported that 21 of the mid-Atlantic’s largest nonprofit organizations are leaving the United Way of the National Capital Area in favor of a new group, called Community1st, operating under the auspices of America’s Charities.  The Post also reported that an increasing number of the largest employers in the region, including ExxonMobile and Lockheed Martin, are operating their workplace giving campaigns through America’s Charities.  For both the charities and the businesses the reason for the switch is the same.   More flexibility.  Flexibility for the donor (that’s the employee if you’re the business) to decide exactly where his or her money will go.  Community1st will permit a donor (employee) to designate any registered charity in the United States as a recipient of her gift.  The United Way, by contrast, makes the decision about smaller gifts, grouping them into a community fund (they say they cannot efficiently distribute small gifts because of processing costs).

Maybe it’s because I’m a Boomer and I see my cohort at the center of so many trends but I suspect Boomers are driving this change, too.   (That bulge in the demographic pipeline just won’t go away.)   Why would Boomers be behind this change?  Because unlike their elders, Boomers want to engage with us, they want to know, often first-hand, that their gifts will be used as intended and will have an impact.  It’s probably no coincidence that Jeff Brooks calls his blog “The Donor Power Blog.”  And if you want to see how giving donors power or control over how their gifts are used can put your fundraising on a trajectory most organizations can only dream of, take a look at what Charles Best has done at DonorsChoose (note the name says it all).

Yet, so often I talk to organizations that want to remove from their planned giving newsletter, brochure or booklet language that indicates that the organization welcomes restricted gifts and is happy to work with the donor to ensure her wishes are honored.   They’d rather make the donor ask the question than plant the idea themselves.  Problem is, the donor already has the idea, so mentioning it will likely garner more gifts from donors who want to work with an organization that respects their desire to have a say in how their gifts are used.  What do you say?


P.S.  Once the donor has raised her hand is the time to either ensure that the language of the gift isn’t too restrictive or to discuss with the donor your need for unrestricted support.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

May 1, 2009 at 10:26 am

2 Responses

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  1. Great points all. Adding an opportunity for the donor to choose “whereever funds are needed the most” is also a good way to raise plenty of unrestricted funds while still giving the donor more power.


    May 1, 2009 at 7:29 pm

  2. […] I’ve written about impact in a number of posts.  You can read a couple here, and here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Reach out and touch someone.New […]

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