How to Be a Planned Giving Expert

Demystifying DAFs: 5 Ways to Boost Donor Giving 1

Do you ever feel like you don’t know enough about planned giving?  

If so, you’re not alone. According to Giving USA 2023, 63% of fundraisers don’t feel confident discussing planned giving. Total giving is down, but bequest giving is up, so planned giving is a vital source of funds! 

It sounds like a big obstacle to surmount. If you know that planned giving is going to grow, but you don’t feel like you know enough about it, how can you be effective at it? At Canopy, we know that if you can increase your confidence so that you are able to talk more about it, planned giving will only continue to grow in response. 

Here’s the secret.  

You don’t need to be an expert in planned giving to get planned gifts. But you do need to be an expert in your organization’s future.  

People aren’t including your organization in their wills or handing over their retirement assets because you understand all the legal aspects of every possible vehicle. Their generosity hinges on how well you can communicate the importance and future of your organization, not your tax knowledge. That’s what lawyers and financial advisors are for.  

You only need to know the basics of the available giving vehicles so that when a donor relationship culminates in a desire to leave a lasting legacy, you can point them in the direction of the next steps.  

Here are some things that your fundraising staff may already be doing; you can work planned giving into any of these areas: 

1. Annual campaigns. Include a quick callout to planned giving in your annual campaign. Added bonus: when a donor becomes a legacy giver, they will likely give more annually as well! 

2. Capital campaigns. Fold planned giving into your capital campaign by adding ingredients like endowments, legacy societies, and messaging (read more on this here). 

3. Events. Relate the story of a volunteer or donor who became a legacy donor at your events—tell the story from the stage, add a tent card to each table, or, best of all, have that donor talk to your audience (read more on this here). 

4. Board involvement. Get the board on board through their own planned giving or by educating them to talk about it with others (read more on this here). 

5. Donor communications. Yes, we’ve said this a thousand times, but it’s so easy to forget! Planned giving should have a place in all of your donor communications. You have to keep planting that seed so that when donors hit the moment in their life that legacy planning becomes real, your organization is on their mind. 

Become an expert on your organization and its future. Learning about available giving vehicles is important, but you don’t have to know the fine print. You just need to be able to walk beside the donor as they take the next step in their journey. 

P.S. Will you be at the CGP Conference in Chicago next month? We will, and we’d love to see you! Stop by our booth (#313) and enter the drawing to win one of our Chicago Swag Bags, or get the conversation rolling by booking a meeting today.