What Makes Marketing a Planned Gift Effective?

Our lives have changed a lot in the last few months, but we’ve had the chance to evaluate what’s working and what’s not.

Professionally, you’ve learned new methods for connecting with planned giving donors, using technology, and getting tasks done when you’re not in the office. But the pause also exposed cracks where systems are fractured.

We’ve seen this from the marketing perspective.

Organizations that weren’t marketing to donors realized they had no way of knowing who they should call or who might be interested in a conversation. Organizations that had invested in marketing planned gifts realized their marketing message was too educational, and it didn’t hold up in a crisis.

Unfortunately, many have had to pause their marketing efforts. Now they’re left asking what to do next.

My advice: don’t go back to doing the same thing if it wasn’t working!

Most of the content pitched as planned giving “marketing” isn’t marketing at all. The loud voices in the industry have persuaded fundraisers that donors need an education rather than an invitation.

But marketing isn’t meant to be educational. It’s meant to be whimsical and filled with hope. Planned giving messages help people imagine themselves as philanthropists–and then invite them to contact you to learn how to make an impact.

Planned giving marketing must invite donors to imagine what’s possible. Once they understand what’s possible, they contact you. THAT is when you match their goals to a particular type of gift.

Marketing is part science and part art. And marketing a planned gift comes with unique challenges. But that doesn’t mean you violate the most fundamental rules of marketing.

Making a planned gift is not a transactional decision, as with an annual or major gift is. It’s more complex. Donors often spend a significant amount of time considering these gifts, and they make the decision about them in life-changing moments, such as when someone passes, a marriage or divorce takes place, or a child is born.

What difference does that make?

That means your planned giving marketing not only has to be invitational, it also has to frequent so that your message lands in your donor’s mailbox or email during these life-changing moments.

Right now, “life” is happening to all of us, all at once. And that means this is exactly when you should be inspiring your donors through planned giving marketing that spreads hopeful, timeless messages. Unfortunately, a lot of marketing companies are realizing their planned giving messages that educate donors about gift types are inappropriate. Donors just arent’ responding to them–and the marketing isn’t opening up new conversations.

Don’t keep sending these messages, because they don’t work. And there’s a scientific reason for that. It has to do with psychology and neuroscience. People want to be involved only when they’re inspired. People take action when they are invited!  This is why “educational marketing” never worked. It tries to connect to the “brain” of your donor rather than the “heart” of your donor!

Put another way: education marketing jumps to HOW to give rather than WHY.

And people always and only raise their hands in response to the WHY. This has always been the differentiator between Planned Giving Marketing and our competitors. Our marketing messages invite your donors to see the impact of your mission, because that’s why your donors love your organization!

The messages invite your donors to see themselves as part of your mission, so they become part of the story of your organization! Clients who trusted our marketing strategy have continued communicating with their donors about planned gifts without interruption during the Covid crisis. Which meant their organization remained top of mind when donors were having important conversations with their families about their will and legacy.

I suspect this will be a wake-up call for planned giving marketing companies who have been focused on educational marketing. And they’ll start making changes to their messages … but that doesn’t help you right now.

So, we’re offering a free template that provides an example of “invitational marketing,” so you have a planned giving marketing message you can use immediately.

Click to download the template, personalize, and send it to your donors.

PS: Would you like a marketing assessment to see where your marketing message sits in the range between “educational” to “invitational”? If so, schedule a free marketing analysis. We’ll review your messaging and give you practical suggestions for how to make changes and get better results.

Schedule a FREE Marketing Analysis Now


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Contact Us

We’d love to help you reach your planned giving goals by effectively marketing your planned giving program.

Please give us a call, send an email, or fill out the form below to get started.

Planned Giving Marketing

620 W. Germantown Pike, Suite 440, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

P: 484-680-7600 | F: 877-865-6812