Fold Planned Giving into Your Capital Campaign

On a memorable episode of the show Schitt’s Creek, two grown adults who have no idea how to cook are stumped when an enchilada recipe instructs them to “fold in” the cheese. David is very open about the fact that he doesn’t know how to do it; his mother pretends to know how and just keeps telling him to do it. 



A lot of development professionals experience planned giving integration the same way. If you admit that you might not know how to do it effectively, others may try to tell you they know how without actually giving you the tools to succeed. And the truth is, they might not know either!

One opportunity to promote planned giving is to fold it into your capital campaign. Like folding cheese into a recipe, you want to stir in that planned giving message, but you don’t just dump a bunch in. You carefully add the right amount at the right time so that the whole enchilada turns out even better. Here are some different ways that you can fold planned giving into your capital campaign: 

  1. Enhance your endowment. Set a limited goal for endowment gifts as part of the campaign—cash, pledges or irrevocable planned gifts. This will make space in your capital campaign for people who really want to help fund the endowment. In this situation, the donor will need to specify the amount so that you can add it to the tally.
  2. Upsize your legacy society. Set a goal for a certain number of additional donors who identify themselves as having included your organization in their estate plan. If it is an official part of your capital campaign, it will give your development personnel an easy, low-key way to bring up estate giving with donors.
  3. Soft sell your message. Include planned giving in the message without adding it to the tally. You are already contacting your donors about the capital campaign—take the opportunity to include a legacy story in the package or offer a response card to learn more about planned giving if they wish.
  4. Keep it separated. You can run a capital campaign and a planned giving program at the same time. The Canopy survey approach will encourage and identify planned giving without another “ask.” 

Donors like to give to a capital campaign because they are contributing to an organization they care about in a way that feels substantial and lasting. Planned giving satisfies that same desire—donors give a substantial, long-lasting gift that supports a cause they care about. It makes perfect sense to stir them together.