The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Archive for the ‘E-fundraising’ Category

Marketing planned giving: e-newsletters Part II

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Yesterday I wrote in support of adding e-newsletters to your planned giving marketing mix, in addition to conventional newsletters, not in place of them.

“Is there a better way to get people to sign up for your emails than using a form that looks like it was created by the Census Bureau? And is there a better way to assure readers of your good intentions than placing inches of tiny grey type in the legal section of the email?”  These questions were posed recently as the intro to a wonderful blog post from Media Marketing’s ‘Email Insider.’

They suggest that your e-mail sign up form can be as simple as putting the information in a sentence instead of boxes.

Or you can be more elaborate and show your organization’s personality.

Click on either of these images to enlarge.

As to the unsubscribe information, read the post here.



Written by Phyllis Freedman

July 14, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Marketing planned giving: e-newsletters Part I

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I think e-newsletters for planned giving marketing are a good idea:  in conjunction with traditional newsletters, not in lieu of them.  I know there is a huge push to find low/no cost ways to market planned gifts and I believe e-newsletters should be one arrow in our quiver but they don’t take the place of conventional newsletters.  I know, I know, print newsletters require an investment and seniors are one of the fastest growing segments online.  Even so, I still find that most planned giving prospects have not given us their e-mail address, so the best way to reach them is still via mail.  And, I’m someone who finds it difficult to read much on a screen, so traditional reading is still my preferred way to get important content.

Also, I’m not sure anyone has done the analysis that shows that e-mail is as effective as mail at generating leads and closed gifts.  Does anyone have the data from a head-to-head test?  I don’t think so. That’s why I’m sticking with what I know works.

That said, as our audience becomes increasingly web and e-mail oriented, it makes sense for us to try to add to our marketing mix an e-newsletter (and e-mails) focused on planned giving.  We should offer it as one channel among many.  And if we’re going to include an e-newsletter in our marketing it only makes sense to try to identify the best ways to encourage donors to subscribe/give us their e-mail addresses and to turn the unsubscribe requirement into a selling point.  Some ideas for how to do that tomorrow.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

July 13, 2010 at 11:54 pm

21st century donor engagement.

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Leave it to Starbucks to teach us yet again about creating an exceptional customer brand experience.  Their Passion Panel is an interesting model for what engagement could look like for today’s gift planning donors especially Baby Boomers.  When we want to offer donors the opportunity to deepen their engagement with us, a key component of both exceptional fundraising results and good stewardship, why not offer a innovative online engagement program?


PG Website Tip #3

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I’ve previously written about how hard it is to find contact information on many nonprofit websites.  Now I’m taking my rant to the next logical place:  how hard it is to understand the contact information once you find it.  No kidding.

Take a look at your gift planning web pages.  You probably have a “Contact Us” or “Meet our Gift Planning Team” link.  But once there, if you’re an organization of any size, you have a laundry list of staff names, titles and contact info.  What’s a donor to do?  Who are they supposed to call?  You could add a note to each listing indicating the type of inquiry this person should receive (Call Tom for questions about gift annuities, for example) or you could just keep it simple and prominently note the person who will handle all inquiries.  Separated graphically on the page you can list the rest of the team.  But make it a 5 second effort for the donor to find the information he or she is seeking.

You may also have a “Request Information” page on your site.  There again, simplicity is key, as I’ve said previously.  Don’t make the donor read through lots of esoteric and rare options (bargain sale, anyone?) to try to request information on bequests and or gift annuities, the things we market most often.  Think of your information request page as an online version of a reply card you might send with a newsletter.  The simplicity you achieve on your reply cards should be copied online.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

March 30, 2010 at 6:50 am

PG Website tip #2

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A couple of weeks ago I offered a tip for your website based on audits of some nonprofit websites I’ve recently conducted.  Here’s tip #2:

You should make sure to always include your case for giving prominently on your gift planning site. Except for donor stories that sometimes include a quote that serves as a strong vote of confidence in the organization, the websites I’ve audited don’t directly make the case for why, if the donor is including a charitable provision, it should be made to ABC organization rather than XYZ organization.

You can bet the donor visiting your site is also giving to other organizations, and more than likely organizations doing related work.  When I was at PVA, copies of wills we received always included Blinded Veterans, Disabled American Veterans and other veterans groups.  So, we should make sure our websites do a good job of reinforcing “why us.”

And rather than add more content to what already seem to be content-heavy websites, for my money, we can dispense with virtually every online word about the more complex and infrequently used gift vehicles in favor of content for donors just starting planning and for our case for giving.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

December 15, 2009 at 11:31 pm

PG Websites tip #1

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I’ve recently been asked to audit some gift planning websites and I noticed something they all have in common.  They start from the assumption that site visitors (that is, our donors) not only have an estate plan but intend to include a charitable provision. The content of the sites seems to suggest that it’s just a matter of helping the visitor identify the right type of gift.  However, statistics show that the vast majority of Americans, even those giving annual fund or direct mail gifts to charity, don’t even have a will.

It seems to me that we should make sure our websites (and all of our other marketing, for that matter) offer assistance to donors who don’t yet have an estate plan, including information on the importance of a will, how easy it is to get started, and how easy and satisfying it can be to leave a lasting legacy.  Given what we’ve learned recently about younger donors creating estate plans and making charitable provisions, offering valuable information for those in the planning stages is especially important.


P.S.  I’ll be posting more website tips in the future.

Written by Phyllis Freedman

November 30, 2009 at 11:31 pm

Are you a futurist?

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Are you a futurist?  Do you personally and does your organization institutionally have a discipline around recognizing the shifts taking place in our sector?  Do you and your organization feel the urgency of those challenges?   If you answered “yes” to those questions then you’re well-positioned to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the convergence of emerging trends.  That’s the finding of a new study funded and published by the James Irvine Foundation.  You can download a pdf of the report by clicking on the title, “How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector

Here are the five trends:

1.  Demographic shifts redefining participation

2.  Technological advances abounding

3.  Networks enabling work to be organized in new ways

4.  Interest in civic engagement and volunteerism rising

5.  Sector boundaries blurring

The report suggests that it’s not just any one of these factors but the interconnectedness of them that makes for dramatic and fast-paced change in our sector.  Organizations that fail to anticipate trends like these, and react to them, will be left behind.  For fundraisers, not only will our organizations falter, but funders, corporate, individual and foundation alike, will be investing more heavily in the organizations that are taking advantage of these trends.


P.S.  Special thanks to Laura Deaton, principal at Full Glass Consulting and founder of Nonprofit Local, a new beta website committed to helping the sector. The site provides aggregated daily news, tips, and more, entirely free.  Laura brought this valuable report to my attention via the Nonprofit Professionals Forum on LinkedIn.