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If you volunteer on a nonprofit board, here is a way you can help!

Planned Giving is the next great frontier in philanthropy. There are approximately 77 million Baby Boomers retiring with $40 trillion in assets. It is estimated that 60% of Boomers intend to leave some portion to their estate to a non-profit. Here are three tips to a successful Planned Giving program.

Who is a potential Planned Giving donor? It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only the super-wealthy leave estate gifts. In fact, donors at all levels have the potential to leave a transformational gift to a nonprofit. It is very likely that you already know your best Planned Giving prospects. There are seven criteria that make someone a high-potential prospect. Here are the top three: over 55 years old, seven years of consistent giving to your organization, and has made at least one “major” gift. If you can generate a list of people who meet these criteria, you are well on your way to developing a Planned Giving prospect list.

Passive and Active Strategies. There are two ways to build a Planned Giving program. The traditional program includes letter and brochures explaining the benefits of estate planning as a charitable tool. These methods are considered passive as they rely on the potential donor to respond. An active program includes events that create awareness of Planned Giving and one-on-one visits to solicit interest in making a Planned Gift. While these strategies produce more results than passive strategies, they aren’t mutually exclusive. A blend of both will produce a healthy response to your efforts.

Focus on mission over methods. Many Planned Giving brochures and letters focus on the tax benefits of making a gift or on the types of gifts, such as Charitable Remainder Trusts or Charitable Gift Annuities. These deal with the methods of Planned Giving. Recent research indicates that tax advantages rank lower in terms of donor motivation than you might think. The top reason a person makes a Planned Gift is because of their relationship with the nonprofit. We suggest you focus on mission first. Take time to describe your history, your current successes, and the challenges that are on the horizon. Consider sharing the testimony of a current donor. These mission moments establish a connecting to the potential donor which lays the foundation for a future conversation about the methods of Planned Giving.

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Nonprofits have unique needs, and we're here to help. Whether you need tools to manage donations, new ways to accept payments at events, guidance with a planned-giving campaign or new opportunities to engage board members, we're here for you.

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Rob has worked in all aspects of fundraising administration for philanthropic organizations. He has held positions as capital campaign manager, foundation executive director and consultant to foundation staff and leadership.

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