The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

STOP including a bequest tick box on your appeal response forms.

with 3 comments

That’s the provocative title of a blog post from Jonathon Grapsas’ in which he puts forth the case that bequest checkboxes hurt direct mail response and revenue (he’s an Aussie working out of Canada on behalf of Pareto Fundraising, thus the use of the term “tick box”) .  Last fall, Planned Giving Today (PGT) published an article that included opinions from others in our field that contradict Jonathon’s assertion.  I want to go on record saying that I agree with Jonathon and have seen similar results.

And, while it may be true, as Mal Warwick points out in the PGT article, that one bequest is probably sufficient to compensate the organization for revenue foregone from the checkbox, the reality is that most organizations still operate in silos and are not enlightened enough to see the long-term or overall organizational objective. While we try to break down those silos and build donor-centric organizations we’re better off not hurting direct mail results by insisting on a checkbox in appeals.


P.S.  Mal makes some other great points.  He says “I would not recommend offering information if:  (1) all you’ve got to send is a simple off-the-shelf booklet along the lines of ‘Do you have a will?’ such as those provided by any one of several established companies; (2) if you respond with a flood of complex information about all the tax-avoidance and income-generating possibilities of planned giving; and/or (3) if the examples you provide to donors highlight the multi-million-dollar givers.”  To that, I would add (4) or if you’re not prepared to do prompt and personal follow-up.


3 Responses

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  1. Phyllis, you hit the nail on the head when you said “most org’s still operate in silos” and “are not enlightened enough to see the long-term or overall org objective”. Truer words were never blogged. It’s been my sad experience that the planned giving staff has an uphill battle with senior mgt and boards. Good people can be so short-sighted; in my blog,, I make many of the same observations. Keep up the good work.

    steffan cress

    March 23, 2010 at 7:04 am

  2. Phyllis,

    Is it possible for you to share the PGToday article you referenced in this post? I’d also like to hear more about the results you’ve seen that support the assertion about not including the checkbox for planned giving donors.


    March 25, 2010 at 12:00 am

    • Hi Dan

      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m not at liberty to disclose the specific test results but I will add a new post with the PG Today article for everyone to read.

      Regards, Phyllis

      Phyllis Freedman

      March 25, 2010 at 8:03 am

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