Understanding Your Planned Giving Pipeline 

Understanding Your Planned Giving Pipeline 

Every donor is a potential prospect within your planned giving pipeline, but each person is at a different point in their journey.  

We recommend creating content that targets three categories of people, understanding they have varying degrees of familiarity with planned giving – some are barely aware of the concept, others are actively showing interest, and the final group are ready to give a legacy gift (or have already included you in their will). 

1. Awareness.  

According to research presented by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 80% of your donor base might not even be aware of legacy giving, yet many planned giving strategies immediately dive into appeals. This is why Canopy emphasizes that nonprofits should lead with inspiration and follow with information. This huge “Awareness” sector of your planned giving pipeline is often busy with their children, grandchildren, and everyday life; they simply aren’t thinking about a planned gift yet.  

To reach this group of donors, it’s best to speak to their felt need. They want peace in their family. They want to feel secure about the future. Messaging for this segment of your planned giving pipeline should mention planned giving terminology and techniques very little, if at all. Instead, begin building a picture of how planning for the future will help them live out what matters to them and will provide well for their families. Connect with their heart—that’s something that tips and technical language just can’t do. 

2. Interest.  

The “Interest” group of your planned giving pipeline understands what a legacy gift could do for your organization and the people you serve. They are open to considering a gift. Our research shows this is about 10% of your audience.  

Do you have content that continues the conversation around family and personal impact – but also begins to move into actionable steps they can take to create or update their will, or tools they may want to consider for giving? You can start spelling out the benefits of Donor Advised Funds or Charitable Gift Annuities, but the goal is to continue to package this information in a warm and compelling way while maintaining the ongoing engagement of these interested individuals. 

 3. Action.  

Our statistics indicate that less than 5% of your planned giving pipeline falls into this category – people who have already taken action to include your organization in their will or estate plan. Your goal with this group should focus on maintaining communication that: 

  • Reinforces your gratitude for their support 
  • Shares valuable insights about your organization’s impact
  • Strengthens their connection to your work 

Be sure that your materials are addressing all of your potential legacy donors! To discover how you can maximize your planned giving pipeline, contact Canopy. We’ll help you create a comprehensive plan to speak straight to your donor’s heart.