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Benefits of a Strong Planned Giving Program

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by Melanie Norton


We are all under tremendous pressure to demonstrate results quickly. With such a focus on “dollars in the door” today, it is often easy to overlook the important role a strong and consistent planned giving program can serve for your organization.

I recently recorded a short video with insights into the importance of a vibrant planned giving program. I encourage you to visit the resources page to watch my video along with other useful videos created by my colleagues.

A solid planned giving program is a key and necessary part of a comprehensive development initiative. Planned giving, along with annual and major giving, helps sustain and support fundraising results, better allowing organizations to weather fluctuations in charitable giving.

Planned giving requires a long term outlook, because it is very likely that the benefit of a planned gift commitment may not be realized by an organization for several years.

Consider the following points to help position your organization to receive the most benefit from a strong planned giving program.

Benefits of Planned Giving to the Donor

  • Not every prospect can afford to make a large outright gift to their favorite charities during their life time.  Planned giving provides prospects with an avenue to make a larger and more impactful gift than they ever thought possible and allows all donors to support the institution.
  • Planned gifts are typically the largest and most significant gifts a donor will ever make, so the opportunity is greater than with other gifts.
  • In general, women are an overlooked constituency as major and planned gift prospects. Be sure to discuss planned giving options with women as research shows that planned gifts are a preferred major gift for many women.

The Role of Planned Giving in a Development Program

  • Recognize the important role planned giving plays within a comprehensive development program, ensuring the future stability of the organization and sustaining a long term, consistent funding stream.
  • Determine how you will account for planned giving commitments in your program and establish measurements for success that incorporate charitable gift commitments that may not be immediately realized.
  • Maintaining a consistent focus on planned giving can position organizations to better ride the wave of philanthropic fluctuations in the future.
  • Integrate planned giving and major gift functions in a comprehensive program and recognize the role they each serve in providing options for selecting the best giving vehicle for donors.

Role of Planned Giving in a Campaign

  • Before beginning a campaign, closely examine how planned giving can best be incorporated into the funding of the campaign components. To do this, you will need to determine what portion of the campaign goal is dependent on cash and what portion may be funded through future expectancies.
  • Set a target for the campaign specifically for planned giving and establish a plan for including planned gift requests in your discussions with prospects.
  • Determine how you will account for planned gifts in your campaign total and establish a protocol for recognition and stewardship of planned gifts within the campaign.

To learn more, watch a 90-second video interview about Planned Giving Programs at