Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Planned Giving Stewardship

What are you doing for your donors who have left their ultimate gift? Two years ago I spoke at the Planned Giving Group of New England about incorporating technology into planned giving stewardship with many raised eyebrows. So here are some things to think about... Some places send birthday cards, while these are cute and thoughtful, my Dad for one doesn't want too many reminders that his age creeps up year after year,(he now counts backwards). How about sending strategic information about best using retirement resources? You can send this cheaply by sending a postcard with a link or an email.

Yes, most planned giving donors have a computer and internet, they are the #1 growing demographic on Facebook, too, a great way for them to connect with lost classmates! How about sending them webcams or having students and staff teaching them how to Skype with loved ones near and far? My parents love to skype with me, we had a virtual Christmas this year and I got to see them open their presents live, it was fabulous! Once they have the technology and know how to use it, instead of inviting them to events, have the events come to them incorporating video chats with students, attending classes by webinar, having investment forums where they can learn from you. All of these things steward donors who are otherwise forgotten.

Are they on all of your invitation lists? They should be, even if they can't attend, the invitation and inclusiveness is meaningful. Many planned giving donors have vast life experience and would love to share that with your organization, engage them as targeted volunteers. Have them guest lecture if they are close by, use them to tell their stories in your magazines! My alma mater USC, (go gamecocks!) recently had us write congratulatory notes to recently admitted students- great stewardship of me as a volunteer and a wonderful activity for a planned giving donor to share their experiences!!

The idea here is that they not be dismissed  and not engaged as a part of your donor community. These are people that have made a wonderful and lasting commitment to your organization and deserve to be celebrated. Even if you do one new thing for them, it's better than what it was! So what are your ideas? Have a plan to share? I look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Planned giving always reminds me of my grandfather a few years back. Due to his advanced age (93) and health problems (rheumatism, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, etc), we put him into an assisted living facility. The "home" we chose was in our more exclusive neighborhood, was small (something like 8 or 9 residents0, and family oriented. My family and I visited him everyday, if not multiple times each day. To the caring staff, it wasn't just grandpa's home, it was our home, too. This is kind of my view on planned giving engagement programs.

    Though, in most cases, we don't attend to the immediate welfare of our legacy donors, they're making their final investment in us. As such, to keep the relationship strong, our campus becomes a home or haven to these individuals...and their families.

    A planned gift is a donor's last opportunity to achieve their desired social impact. Given the uniqueness of this gift (as opposed to annual gifts, etc), they're much more vested in their in what their gift is doing. For many of our donors, philanthropy is a family activity, and their children are involved in planning these final gifts. And often times, the children pick up their parent's involvement upon their passing.

    The assisted living facility my grandfather spent his last year in was a wonderful home for him, no doubt about that. But even better, the staff made it our home, too. That's what our campuses, programs, and donor programs should be like for our planned giving donors.

  2. I couldn't have said it better myself Matthew!! Thank you for your wise commentary!