Guest Post: 4.5 Ways Prospect Research Can Help You Market Planned Gifts

This blog focuses on our primary business, planned giving marketing. To diversify our subject matter, we like to feature the work of our friends and colleagues in the community. Please join me in welcoming today’s guest author, Sarah Tedesco. Sarah is the Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. We hope you enjoy this post on prospect research and marketing planned gifts.

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4.5 Ways Prospect Research Can Help You Market Planned Gifts

This article should probably start by explaining where the half of an idea comes from, that 0.5 of the 4.5 ways prospect research can help you market planned gifts. Well, the answer is simple.

Prospect research is invaluable in helping organizations identify planned giving prospects by giving organizations the necessary data to determine if a prospect is a qualified lead. 

This data includes:
• Giving history
• Financial situation
• Age
• Familial ties
• Connection to your cause
• And much more

The process of finding planned giving prospects is the mysterious half. Identifying prospects isn’t really part of the marketing, but you also can’t promote if you don’t know who you’re promoting to. Hence, the half credit. 

Just keep in mind, that even with all the research in the world, you won’t be able to make actionable connections with your planned giving prospects if you don’t listen while you build the relationship. 
Moving on to the actual four, each of these prospect research-enabled tips will help customize your planned giving marketing for the better. 
For a quick refresher on performing these screenings, head on over here: http://www.donorsearch.net/prospect-research-ultimate-guide/

1. Reaching donors in the most effective way possible

When a supporter of your cause decides to leave a planned gift, there’s a strong likelihood that the donor has already built a relationship with your organization. People don’t tend to go from zero to planned giving in one contribution. 

Since most planned giving donors have a history with your nonprofit, you’re lucky in that you should have plenty of pre-existing data on the prospect, including communication history. 

You should know their:
• Email
• Address
• Phone number
• And any other means of contact

If you don’t, a prospect screening can complete any missing information. Once that’s done, store those new details in your database for future reference.  

You want to be able to communicate with donors about planned giving as much as you can. You’ll be using those various pieces of contact information to reach out through:

• Email
• Direct mail
• Calls 
• And so on

After a series of communications, you can then take the details of the various responses you receive and use that data to track your performance, making adjustments for next time. As you go along, you’ll be able to improve the copy of your messaging, so it most appeals to donors. 

You’ll also want to keep in mind that planned giving communications can most often take two paths:
1. Educating potential donors about making a planned gift.
2. Giving donors the opportunity to let your organization know that they have included you in their wills.

Donor communications, though great for promoting planned giving, are an equally valuable space to ask donors to let you know if they’ve decided to allocate a planned gift. 

Obviously, leaving a planned gift is not a decision that is made lightly. Interested parties are likely to have questions and will want to speak with one of your gifts officers, but the first time a donor hears about the opportunity will typically be in one of your standard communication outlets. To get the process started, communicate as many times as you can afford.

Remember that regular communication is key. Very few donors will make such a significant decision after one communication. Share multiple pieces of information about planned giving over an extended period of time to ensure you are providing your prospects with the resources they need to make a decision about donating. 

2. Utilizing any potential contacts to make introductions

What’s your marketing strategy if you don’t have a strong relationship with your planned giving prospect? Maybe the prospect has just attended a few of your events or has only donated once or twice over the years, but either way, it’s important that your marketing accounts for that disconnect. 

Prospect research can help.

Use the screening to reveal any underlying connections your organization or friends of your organization have with the prospect. Take advantage of those ties.

For example, it’s quite common for a board member to have a relationship with a planned giving prospect. If that’s the case in your situation, include your mutual contact in the marketing and cultivation process. That could mean you invite the board member to a planned giving lunch-and-learn with the prospect. Alternately, you could send an informational letter about bequests from the board member. 

In both instances, your nonprofit’s planned giving program is organically being vetted by this mutual connection.  

The average planned gift is between $35,000 and $70,000. A prospect, no matter how wealthy, has to trust and feel comfortable with an organization that’s being gifted that much money. Leveraging a connection to open the conversation with an instantly established trust always helps.  

3. Shoring up any potential errors in personal data collection

Just like you can’t market if you don’t know whom you’re marketing to, you can’t market if you don’t have valid contact information. This is true for all levels of donor acquisition, planned giving included.

Your marketing will stall if you’re sending postcards to incorrect addresses and emailing prospects with the salutation “Dear Donor,” instead of using their names. A prospect screening will fill in any gaps in your donor data and correct errors. 

The better your data is, the better your communications will be. To make the most of your planned giving marketing, you need A+ information to start. Prospect research can help with that!

4. Acknowledging a prospect’s history with your organization

As a donor, there’s nothing worse than a nonprofit that only asks for gifts. Any fundraiser worth their salt will be the first to tell you that you have to thank more than you ask. The same is true of planned giving. Don’t lead off with an ask. Instead, begin your promotional materials with a sincere thank you. 

To truly emphasize your gratitude, keep your acknowledgments specific using the information revealed from a prospect screening. 

You could acknowledge:
• Past gifts
• Volunteer participation
• Event attendance
• Workplace giving submissions (like matching gift and volunteer grant requests)

These acknowledgements and recollections will demonstrate that you’ve valued your relationship with the prospect. 

As I’m sure you can see, there’s a principle threaded through all of these points. Getting to know your prospects better, no matter what you’re learning, helps your marketing. With prospect research in your corner, you can customize and personalize your planned giving marketing materials and reach your fundraising goals. 

Contact Us

The best way to engage more planned giving donors is with effective marketing. We would love to help. Please give us a call, send an email, or fill out the form to get started.

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620 W. Germantown Pike, Suite 440, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
P: 484-680-7600 | F: 877-865-6812
info@pgmarketing.com

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