The Secret to Getting More Planned Gifts

As a fundraiser, you always feel the pressure to find more planned gifts. Hopefully, this secret will help you connect to more donors and build your planned giving program.

An experienced major and planned giving officer called me the other day.

He was preparing for a lunch-and-learn with his front-line fundraisers and wanted a refresher on the ‘buying signs’ of a likely planned giver. They were hoping to connect with donors and hopefully cultivate opportunities for more planned gifts in the future.

“I’m looking for the things that identify the ideal prospect. You know the things to look and listen for: retirement age, absence of children, loss of a spouse, recent sale of a business, vacation properties, etc.”

Yes, that is the perfect prospect profile, but these just tell you who the prospects could be. These data points don’t reveal the reasons why these older, wealthy, heirless donors would want to make give more planned gifts to your org.

For that information … you need to listen.

“You’re an experienced sales guy,” I reminded him. “Fundraising is selling, and we’ve both been through enough sales training to know that to find out what really motivates our prospects giving (buying) decisions, we need to listen. And listen well because at first, they ain’t telling us the truth!”

Now, just because they aren’t telling you the truth doesn’t make them liars.  They’re just human and the first things they tell us are the things they think we want to hear or need to hear.

The good stuff is coming. Just wait. Be quiet. And LISTEN.  

deer with big ears to listen

A Good Listener Gets More Planned Gifts

It reminded me of a story this same planned giving pro told me about one of his visits just a few weeks earlier.

The donor fit the profile.

When they met, the donor quickly got in the weeds: How much for naming opportunities? How much must he give now, and how much could he defer? Would  a planned gift qualify for reunion giving? Would it count toward the capital campaign?

“Wait!” the PG pro interjected. “All great and important questions. But … more important … why don’t you tell me what you want to accomplish with your gift? Paint your masterpiece. That’s what’s important. The rest is just details.”

Once the listening began, the real reasons came out …

Tax advantages, life income, and naming opportunities are benefits of being philanthropic. They aren’t reasons to be philanthropic.

The next time you’re talking a prospect, take the time to listen. Give them an opportunity to talk about their goals for a legacy, not just the goal of giving a gift.

free guide cast a wider netDownload our FREE Marketing Guide to discover three proven strategies that always capture the attention of donors and increase their curiosity about planned gifts.

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