Planned Giving: Emphasize the giving rather than the planning

The Oregon Humane Society has enjoyed a steady flow of planned gifts over the years, largely due to the quiet but persistent efforts of its development department and its director Gary Kish, who is adept at explaining the value of a planned gift to a prospective donor. As a result, OHS has greatly benefited in a fundraising area that most nonprofits overlook or dismiss.

The hard fact is that few nonprofits take planned giving seriously. Most view the process as too complicated, and the revenue stream as unpredictable. Too many charities merely offer an explanation of how to make a planned gift in their newsletter or on their web site without actively pursuing these donations. Yet, experts say, donors are more than willing to leave a legacy gift to their preferred charities—if only someone would ask them for one.

Reaping the rewards of planned gift cultivation requires, in most cases, taking a new approach to soliciting those gifts. Such an approach is outlined in some detail in this http://www2.guidestar.org/rxa/news/articles/2011/strengthen-through-legacy-giving.aspx recent Guidestar article about planned giving. The author argues that most nonprofits shy away from legacy giving because they don’t fully understand some aspects of it. Worse, they consistently miscommunicate with their donors about planned giving, he says.

“We have made it too complicated!,” says Caleb B. Rick, JD, Legacy Giving. “The technobabble of traditional planned giving is intimidating for charities and their supporters alike. Plus, communication and marketing efforts often focus on how to make a gift, without first explaining why this form of giving is important.”

To learn more about Caleb Rick’s strategy for improving your planned gift revenue, you’ll want to read the entire article. You’ll have to invest a little time to do so. But I guarantee the downstream payoff may well be enormous for your development department!

Story Time isn’t Just for Children Any More

A recent GuideStar newsletter article caught our eye. Written by Howard Adam Levy, Red Rooster Group, it was entitled, “How To Develop a Brand for your Nonprofit.” One section of the rather long (for a newsletter article) piece highlighted the importance of one of our favorite communications tools, the story, or case study. Here’s what Levy had to say:

“Organizations with strong brands are able to distinguish themselves, establish credibility, and speak authentically. How do they do this? By telling good stories. Stories are the foundation of a strong brand—they give a deeper meaning to your mission and help people connect to what you do. Your organization’s story may revolve around the personality of your founder, a galvanizing moment in your organization’s history, or a natural affinity to your audience. Good stories, like good deeds, give your brand life, excite your donor base, and instill confidence in others that your organization is what it claims to be.”

We agree. Your stories should resonate with your target audiences—donors, volunteers, potential employees and strategic partners. They must be powerfully told, have the ring of credibility and make a persuasive call to action. Ideally, they will be offered in multi media—as text case studies on the web. blog and in the newsletter; as photos which, in themselves, should deliver a compelling message; and as videos and podcasts available through your site and over other platforms.

At To the Point, we specialize in working with you to find your finest, most compelling stories, and then telling those stories to the audiences with which you wish to communicate. We tell stories to adults who can help you change the world.