Did you know that more than 70% of people who have already made planned gifts also continue to make annual gifts to the organizations they’ve named in their estate plans?  This impressive commitment indicates a connection to your mission that shouldn’t be overlooked.  What interactions do you have in place that ensures sustained giving from these extraordinary individuals?

Answer these questions to see how you rank:

  • Do you acknowledge, at least once a year that you value and appreciate both these individual’s current and legacy gifts?
  • Do you provide information about current objectives of the organization as well as future objectives?
  • Do you personalize any of your communications with this group by speaking to their unique situation as a current investor and future funder?
  • Do you use recognition and stewardship opportunities that acknowledge both their current giver status as well as their legacy giver status?
  • Have any of your organizational leaders (paid or volunteer) made a personal call to or sent a handwritten note to each of these people thanking them for their special status with the organization?
  • Do you continue to provide the same level of information, gratitude and connection with planned gift donors who wane in their annual giving?
  • Do you regularly announce and thank planned gift donors in a way that encourages others to notify you of their planned gift intention as well?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to at least four of these questions, congratulations!  You’re doing all the right things to sustain giving from these donors.  If you’ve not yet met that mark, it’s not too late to start now!  New year planning is a great time to review your upcoming strategies and goals and to design activity that engages, communicates and shows gratitude.   If you need additional information to convince you to do things differently, here’s some that should do the trick.  Planned gift donors:

  • Are longer lifetime donors than non-planned gift donors
  • Give larger average annual gifts than do non-planned gift donors
  • Who’ve told the organization of their planned gift during their lifetime make planned gifts two times larger than those who do not share their legacy gift intention

It’s important that each person knows that you know who they are – this special group of constituents is no exception.  In many ways, they should be treated, communicated with and stewarded in the same manner that you do with your current major donors.  After all, when you look at the lifetime giving opportunity of dual annual/planned gift donors, I think you’ll find that their total support of your organization is the highest of all.

So start this new year off with your own commitment to sustain interactions with these special people and in return, they’ll sustain their commitment to you.

Katherine is a senior consultant with Target Analytics, a division of Blackbaud, Inc.  She can be reached at katherine.swank@blackbaud.com.

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