The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Planned giving marketing to Boomers: shifting from success to significance

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about generosity as a new status marker.  Now, Matt Thornhill, who pens the Engage:  Boomers blog, writes about Worthwhile Wines, a “triple bottom line business (profits, people, planet)” as evidence of what we can expect from Boomers.  His advice reinforces the idea of generosity as a motivator.

He notes that “Typically, around age 50 we see a shift away from “success” and more towards “significance” as an underlying behavioral motivation. David Wolfe, author of Ageless Marketing, points out that such a shift isn’t a generational thing, it’s a developmental thing. Reach age 50 and beyond, and one’s motivation for many decisions in life shifts.”

He goes on to say “Combining rational marketing value (price and quality) with human, emotional values is why we think companies like Worthwhile Wines will succeed. Boomers will vote with their wallets, which are now attached to their heartstrings.”

Good advice for gift planners: stop talking about tax savings and the technical aspects of gifts.  Instead, combine the emotional appeal of your mission with the impact the donor’s gift can make and you will have a winning formula.



Trendwatching: what’s new in the “statusphere”

with one comment‘s new briefing asserts that though “. . . the need for recognition and status is at the heart of every consumer trend,” what’s different, they say, is that “an increasing number of consumers are no longer (solely) obsessed with owning or experiencing the most and/or the most expensive.”

Their definition:  “STATUSPHERE | As consumers are starting to recognize and respect fellow consumers who stray off the beaten consuming-more-than-thou-path, ‘new’ status can be about acquired skills, about eco-credentials, about generosity, about connectivity.”

“GENERATION G (generosity) captures the growing importance of ‘generosity’ as a leading societal and business mindset. As consumers are disgusted with greed and its current dire consequences for the economy—and while that same upheaval has them longing more than ever for institutions that care—the need for more generosity beautifully coincides with the ongoing (and pre-recession) emergence of an online-fuelled culture of individuals who share, give, engage, create and collaborate in large numbers.”

Now, one of the most important drivers behind GENEROSITY is the collaborative/free/creation/crowdsourced/gift/sharing movement that—especially online—has unlocked in entirely new ways the perennial need of individuals to feel part of the greater good, to contribute, to help. But the online world of course also makes it easy to showcase and share one’s acts of altruism.

The status-implications for non-profit organizations, and B2C brands big on giving initiatives?  Work harder on helping your consumer-donors show and tell others about their donations and contributions!”


Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 1, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Barriers to bequest giving.

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That’s the title of an interesting article in the May/June 2010, issue of Advancing Philanthropy, the magazine of the AFP.  The author, Russell James, describes an AFP-sponsored study of donors who reported committing to a charitable bequest.  After the death of the respondent, family members were contacted to determine how the estate had actually been divided.  The results were surprising.

Of the people who had indicated that they had made a charitable provision in their will, 59% produced no charitable transfer at death.  There were some obvious reasons:  people changed their minds, for example, but the authors theorize an important reason for the discrepancy. . . the prevalence of assets being passed on through “transfer on death” or “pay on death” designations and thus outside the probate process, undoing the donor’s plans.

What to do?

1.  Trusts solve the problem since all assets are titled to the trust but many people don’t want to go to the expense or trouble to create a trust.

2.  Use your marketing to remind donors that assets can be transferred to your organization via a transfer or payable on death provision, essentially moving your gift outside probate.

3.  Educate donors about rephrasing percentage bequests to be “a dollar amount equal to ___percent of my adjusted gross estate for federal estate tax purposes.”  If the language is “___% of my estate” that usually means a percent of the probate estate, which will likely be lower.


P.S.  Here’s the full article, Barriers to Bequest Giving.

Written by Phyllis Freedman

May 24, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Survey on gift annuities: the results are in.

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The American Council on Gift Annuities has just released its 2009 Survey of Charitable Gift Annuities and there are some interesting findings worth noting.  Nearly 600 organizations responded to the ACGA survey and while there was skewing toward institutions of higher education, the sample size is sufficiently large and the data sufficiently cross-tabbed to still find relevance even if you’re not a college or university.

Here are some of the statistics I found interesting:

1.  Nearly 72% of immediate annuities are issued to donors 80 or older.  In fact, only 9% of annuities are issued to donors 70 or younger.  This is clearly partly a function of who we market annuities to but it seems to be more a function of who is interested in annuities.  If that’s true, and if you’re on a tight budget, then marketing annuities to donors 71+ will capture nearly all of the most likely prospects.

2.  Most annuities are funded with cash (80% of organizations reported that gifts of cash represented between 76% and 100% of the assets used to fund gift annuities) and most are for one life (72.4%).  I have long advocated for simplifying our marketing messages.  These findings suggest to me that charts with one life and two life rates are unnecessary and may be confusing.  Similarly, diagrams or language that describe the varied assets that can be used to fund a gift annuity are also unnecessarily complicating.

3.  The average size of gift annuities varied widely by type of organization, with, not surprisingly, public colleges and universities reporting an average of $78,548 and arts organizations reporting one-third that amount, at $22,195.  When you’re writing an example to include in marketing materials or publishing a story of a donor who created an annuity with you, try to use examples that closely track with your own average amount.

For me, the other important takeaway is the importance of tracking your own statistics.  Not only are your own data useful for your marketing and forecasting but with this report in hand, you can see how you’re doing compared to the sector.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

May 10, 2010 at 11:50 pm

60 is the new 30.

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The residents of Leisure World in Seal Beach, California, are agitating to lose the name “Leisure World,” saying  “The name no longer fits the residents who are here.”  Moreover, residents argue, there is an economic incentive to change names.

“The reason I believe that now is the time is because we are going to be getting a new demographic retiring, so-called boomers, and they don’t want to be in anything that smacks of inactivity or retirement,” said Anne Seifert, president of the Where We Live club. “The 60-years-old people are (the new) 30.”

Gift planners also have an economic incentive to change their thinking.  Do your planned giving marketing materials reflect this changing attitude?  Do your photos reflect active people in the prime their lives?  When you think of our “customer”, do you think of the woman on the left or the woman on the right?  How about both?


Written by Phyllis Freedman

May 3, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Knowledge is power.

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Do you know your donors?  I don’t mean individually.  I’m asking whether you could articulate a profile of your supporters?  Not the statistics.  But rather the more conceptual information about your supporters.

According to Kevin MacDonell, who has been working in the field of prospect research for university advancement since 2005 and writes an informative blog called CoolData blog, “Thinking like an analyst is NOT memorizing numbers, NOT just geeking out at the computer. It’s about being aware, curious, and creative. It’s about being plugged into your institution’s real day-to-day operations and its interactions with the constituency it serves.”

In his most recent post, linked above, he gives an interesting example from a performing arts organization that illustrates how understanding your supporter base can inform decision-making about everything from planned giving marketing messages to selection criteria for your planned giving marketing.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

April 26, 2010 at 11:21 pm

The importance of impact.

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As if we needed another reminder, the Wall Street Journal reports on the increasing emphasis donors are placing on impact to drive their charitable choices.  The article notes the following reasons for the trend:

1.  Economic turmoil.  With less to give, donors are more focused on ensuring the impact of their gifts.

2.  Information availability.  The web has made it possible for donors to make more informed choices when selecting which organization or project to support.

3.  Growth in philanthropic advisors.  More high wealth donors are participating in programs or working with individual advisors to help them develop their own strategic funding plans.

I would add to this list, the rise of the Baby Boomer and the passing of the baton from the WWII and Silent Generation.  Whereas the latter trusted in institutions, Baby Boomers want proof.


P.S.  I’ve written about impact in a number of posts.  You can read a couple here, and here.

Written by Phyllis Freedman

April 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm