• Nonprofit Learning Lab

5 Tips to Help Build Your Planned Giving Program


We’ve all heard the saying, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail”. This statement rings especially true when applied to the nonprofit sector. A planned giving program is a way to cultivate strong relationships with planned gift donors. Your organization can benefit greatly from implementing a planned giving program. Here are some tips to get you started.


Include Marketing

As a nonprofit, you want to capture what is often referred to as unanticipated planned gifts. This is when a donor leaves a gift to a nonprofit after they have passed. It is important to build a relationship with a donor before this would occur. You can’t expect planned gifts to roll in when your donors are unaware you can receive planned gifts and that your institution has the structure in place. Be sure to include language in your organization's newsletters and website promoting your planned giving program.


On your website make sure to include the following information:

  • Legacy society name and logo

  • Staff contact information

  • Legacy society benefits

  • Why a planned gift will help your institution

  • Photo and profile of a legacy donor


Show Donor Appreciation

Making sure your donors feel appreciated is vital to your organization's success. Allot time each week to call donors and thank them for their most recent contributions. Handwritten cards are an excellent way to show appreciation because they are personalized and demonstrate an organization's dedication to cultivating a relationship with its donors.


Value Consistency

The ideal planned giving donor may not always be your largest one. Don’t overlook donors that have given $10 to $50 every year for the last 10 years. Loyalty is equally valuable when it comes to planned gifts. Focus on keeping donors within your organization no matter the donation size.


Encourage Testimonials

If there’s anything more important than how much a donor gives it’s why a donor gives. It’s important to both identify and acknowledge the motivations behind a donor’s contribution. Encourage your donors to give testimonials that explain why your organization's mission resonates with them and then profile those testimonials on your website, social media, and newsletters.


Keep It Simple

Over 80% of planned gifts from donors are bequests. Maintain a personal relationship with your donors from day one and make it clear that their gift can be a way to create a lasting legacy at your organization.


Looking for more resources and insights on planned giving? Our upcoming Planned Giving Program workshop guides you through the best practices for planned giving, legacy societies, and this specific kind of donor engagement. This workshop will focus on the essential elements to raising additional funds through legacy gifts, how to market legacy gifts to your current donors and how to integrate planned giving options into donor conversations. With special attention paid to a technique for small teams to balance planned giving with other fundraising responsibilities, we hope you can join us!

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