What Development Officers Can Learn from Marvel

The Marvel franchise is everywhere, there’s no escaping it. Most obvious are the infinite installments in the feature film series. But there are also the comic books, the shows on Netflix, and now Disney+ has multiple animated and live action Marvel-based series.  

Not only is Marvel everywhere, they offer different forms for different media consumers. Young or old, modern or nostalgic, they’ve got you covered. There is a superhero for everyone. 

Planned giving is the development superhero. One healthy estate gift can fund years of programming. The challenge is getting that message out to everyone. 

You know all the different forms of planned giving — wills, CGAs, DAFs and other ways to give. But do your donors know them? Follow the Marvel plan. Put it out there, everywhere. Come from lots of angles, keep different audiences in mind. Inspire them, engage them, and let people choose how they want to continue the conversation.  

Since most people decide to update their giving plans when a life event jolts them into thinking about it, you need to keep planned giving in front of donors. That way, when life throws a curveball, they have your organization in the back of their minds.

How do you do that? Here are a few guidelines: 

  1. Think beyond your major donors. Many of your possible estate givers may not be typical major donors—communicate the message of planned giving to all loyal, regular givers. After all, it wasn’t obvious that Peter Parker would become Spider-Man.
  2. Use what you’ve got. Communicate about planned giving through all of your existing channels. You can point the way in your events, newsletters, emails, website content, social media, receipts—pretty much any way you talk to your donors is a good way to plant the seed of planned giving.
  3. Learn about your donors. Interactive communications, like Canopy’s program, can offer you important information on why your donors care about your organization. And if they can tell you why your work is close to their hearts, they are excellent prospects for planned giving.
  4. Inspire rather than inform. Talk to them about leaving a legacy or making the world a better place for future generations. If they want to know more, you can tell them more. You want to start a conversation.
  5. Keep it simple. Jargon is overwhelming to the less financially sophisticated of your donors. If you put a checkbox on your communications, don’t say “I’d like more information about planned giving.” Instead, try “I’d like more information about making a gift in my will.”

If you keep the message of building a legacy in front of your donors for the time that they need it, the results will be — well — marvelous!