Right on the Money: Want to Build Your Endowment? Promoting Planned Giving May Be a Good Step

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three stacks of coins, increasing in height.

Gail Perry has two charities in her will: Her church and her alma mater. The fundraising consultant and blogger from Raleigh, NC, says she exemplifies a simple fact of philanthropy: People who have a long history with an organization are very likely to leave money to it in their wills, even if they only give a small amount every year.

“People tend to make bigger gifts via planned giving,” she says, referring to a type of philanthropy that encompasses bequests, gifts of stock, trusts and other more complicated ways of donating money.

Perry says planned giving is key to long-term financial stability. “The way endowments get built is through planned gifts,” she says. “If you need money right away, planned giving is not the right strategy.”

A Good Fit for Youth-Serving Organizations

Perry says that while most small to medium-sized organizations can ignore the complex giving tools under the planned giving umbrella, they shouldn’t miss a chance to invite donors to leave money to the organization in their wills.

That’s especially true because people who leave bequests to charity want to be remembered and have a long-term impact, according to research funded by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Nanci Leitch, director of development and communication at Youth Services, a nonprofit in Brattleboro, VT, says the mission of youth-serving organizations can be a perfect match for those sorts of people.

“People who make planned gifts to Youth Services are people who believe in the organization, maybe were on the board or have no kids of their own, and want to leave a legacy that impacts the kids of the future,” she says.

Based on Perry’s advice, we’ve created a checklist you can use to decide whether planned giving is right for your youth-serving organization. We’ll share that today, and next week we’ll share Perry and Leitch’s easy, low-cost ideas for promoting planned giving.

Is Planned Giving Right for Your Organization?

If the following statements are true about your organization, encouraging planned giving among your donors could be a good step toward building your endowment:

The organization is at least 10 to 15 years old.

The organization has credibility in your community. People trust your work.

You raise money from individuals.

You have at least one dedicated fundraiser on staff.

You have “major donors” who give four figures or more to the organization.

You have donors who have given for a long period of time (say, five years or more).

You have a fundraising database to track donors and their giving.

More Information
Get five simple planned giving tips from Perry's blog, Fired-Up Fundraising.

Learn why people leave bequests according to research funded by the Associate of Fundraising Professionals.

Test your knowledge of fundraising in a short NCFY quiz.

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