Budgetless Planned Giving

Planned gifts are very often the largest contribution a donor ever makes. Yet sometimes it takes some convincing to get resources allocated to this type of campaign and if belt tightening becomes an issue for a nonprofit, this is an area that generally gets cut back first.

But interestingly, while this form of fundraising produces major gifts, it does not take a lot of monetary support to be successful. And, you don't have to be an "expert" in charitable trusts or other more complex forms of gift planning.

What really counts is letting the people who loyally support your organization know that by including you in their estate planning, they can continue to have an impact on your work well into the future.

Here are just a few suggestions for waging a "budget-less" campaign:

* Let your supporters know you are interested in these gifts with every email you send by putting a tagline such as "please include xyz in your will" under your signature. Just about every nonprofit has a Facebook icon on their emails for people to click and "like" them. "Friendship" is not more important than being in someone's estate plans.

* Make sure there is some reference to planned giving with every donor mailing. This can be as simple as printing your tagline on the outside envelope flaps (when you print new envelopes), or at the very bottom of your stationery, or just under your signature and title. Include a planned gift buck-slip in renewal mailings that people can fill out and return in your return envelope (hopefully with their check).

* Include a testimonial from a proud planned gift donor, or an informative/helpful article in your organization's general newsletters.

* Send e-blasts with new tax information and gift planning ideas. Make sure your contact information is clear so you can receive questions or messages of interest.

* Have a planned giving page on your website and include testimonials, (it's where you can also recognize these special donors if they give you permission).

* Put your tagline on your business cards when they're reprinted.

* Include planned giving in some way at events with a booth and handouts, or in the speakers' remarks.

* Talk about the value of planned gifts to your organization when you meet with donors.

There's no shortage of ways to heighten this campaign's visibility and importance. Be innovative in your marketing. If there's no money whatsoever, piggyback or e-blast or attach tagline Post-Its to items or do something else creative. The important thing is to get your best prospects - the people who love your nonprofit - thinking about this kind of gift.

More than 75% of planned gifts are bequests. You don't have to be a "technician" or concerned that your prospects might know more than you. Your planned giving campaign can be highly successful with high visibility, a very simple "ask", and little or no budget.