The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Donor profiles in your planned giving newsletter?

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Tom Ahern, writing in his e-newsletter, asks whether putting donor profiles in your newsletter is worth the trouble.  The short answer:   “They can lead to bigger things … or nowhere. You decide.”

You’re at the worthwhile end of the spectrum, Ahern says, “when your donor profiles are meaningful to other donors and can lead somewhere. Then donor profiles become opportunities.”

Ahern’s article, which includes a good example of a worthwhile profile is worth a read.



Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Planned giving marketing: get rid of the teaser

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Jeff Brooks, writes a great blog called Future Fundraising Now.  He recently posted what some might consider a provocative point of view: that teaser copy on outer envelopes doesn’t work.  I agree with him wholeheartedly and find that the same is true in planned giving marketing.  Read Jeff’s blog here.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Planned giving marketing: harnessing the power of persuasion

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I’ve always been a fan of making articles about gift types and gift planning simple to understand and follow.  That extends to the format as well as the content.  For example, I’m a big believer in using 1., 2., 3., steps along with this numbering format.  For example, when explaining how a gift annuity works.

And, I’m passionate about making sure our communications with donors include prominent and frequent “calls to action.”  That is, asking the donor to take a step and even telling the donor exactly what we want him or her to do.  For example, in Q & A articles and fact sheets, I often conclude with the question “What should I do next?” to put the donor on the path to taking the action we most want taken.

Now comes a research study published in Inside Influence, the website/blog of Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., who has made ethical persuasion his life’s study.  I’ve written about other of Dr. Cialdini’s findings previously.  The most recent article, entitled “Planning Persuasion,” describes a study that showed, conclusively,  ” . . .that simply hearing “Yes” from another person is just a starting point, rather than an ending point, for persuasion. To optimize the likelihood that others will follow through with their intentions, consider specifically asking them how they plan to go about accomplishing the goal they’ve promised to pursue. This doesn’t need to be done in a micro-managing or demanding way. Rather, you could ask about the details as they relate to whether or not there are specific aspects of the tasks with which you can help.”

For articles in newsletters, cover letters and other printed materials we send donors, we can suggest the steps to the donor, for example for how to include our organization in their estate plan.  In conversations, especially when a donor says that he or she is intending to or considering including us, a conversation about “how” the donor plans to do that might prove fruitful.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 22, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Stewardship done right: #6

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I got an interesting mailing from the salon where I get my hair cut.  It begins “Celadon is now in its tenth year and we would like to thank you for your loyalty to us, now and over the years.   As a token of our appreciation we have enclosed a gift for you.”

The gift was two salon gift cards, one to use myself and one to give away to a friend.

What they sent me was not as important as the acknowledgment of my loyalty (although I think they were smart to suggest that I introduce a friend to the place).  What’s critical here is the fact that the communication was completely unexpected.  Unlike a thank you note that comes in response to a donation or an annual report mailing that comes every year like clockwork, this mailing came out of the blue and delighted me because it was unexpected and because it recognized my special relationship to the salon.

I share this story not only as an example of stewardship done right but to suggest that today consumer expectations are exceedingly high.  If a hair salon is doing stewardship this well, what must donors expect of us?


Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 21, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Personalizing your planned giving marketing: a bequest case study

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Have you seen the provocative new campaign for PETA that features the late Bea Arthur?  Apparently the campaign was funded by a bequest in her will and typically for PETA is controversial.  But apparently Arthur’s son approved the copy. I like the ad because it’s totally in keeping with PETA’s in-your-face approach and communicates in a very effective way the power of a bequest to keep the donor’s passion alive.

Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 15, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Personalizing your planned giving marketing: Part II

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Oops.  As I was writing Part I of this post I accidentally hit the “publish” button instead of the “save” button before I had finished my thought.  What I meant to add was:

Although the personalized marketing tips I offered aren’t necessarily about charitable planning, but instead are more generally about estate planning, provision of that kind of information can be a real service to your constituents and can open the door to a conversation about charitable planning.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 14, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Personalizing your planned giving marketing.

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I’m continually struck by the sameness of a lot of planned giving marketing.  This is especially true of planned giving websites, which tend to come from one of a handful of vendors and seem to be posted by nonprofits essentially without any changes.  But, it’s also true of other kinds of planned giving marketing, much of which is generic.

I understand that sometimes it’s a cost consideration and it can also be an expertise consideration–no one with the marketing know-how to guide the changes–but maybe it’s also because we don’t realize how important or how easy it can be to tailor your content for your audience.

Here are three examples of how planned giving marketing can be customized:

1.  For an organization that fights a 100% fatal disease, information about end of life considerations

2. For organizations with a gay and lesbian constituency, information about issues pertinent to their status (in most states) as unmarried partners.  MetLife just released a MetLife Legal Planning Guide for GLBT Boomers that has lots of good information if your organization is in this category.

3.  For organizations with a disability focus, information about special needs trusts.

4.  For animal welfare organizations, information about providing for your pets in your estate plan.  At my session, Getting the Most ROI from Your Planned Giving Marketing Investment,” at the recent National Capital Area Gift Council Planning Days mentioned this.

So, take a step back.  Maybe there is something you can do.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 9, 2010 at 11:23 am