Why Is It So Hard to Talk to Donors About Planned Giving?

Why Is It So Hard to Talk to Donors About Planned Giving? 1


Have you ever asked someone about their new grandbaby? Sometimes they are so excited to tell you, they launch into vivid descriptions of the state of the new baby’s eating, sleeping, and digestion. They have just a few—maybe 25 or so—pictures to show you, and they even have a video somewhere on their phone! You care about the person, and you want to know that the new baby is well, but you’re getting a lot more information than you wanted.

Like that friend, development executives often do the same thing, sharing way more information about planned giving than the donor is really asking for. It’s easy to understand why.

The companies that sell planned gift marketing websites, for example, need to justify the cost of their comprehensive content. So they load up the sites with countless pages and links, hoping the average development director or executive board will look it over and assume it is a worthy investment.

What Does Your Donor Want?

Now try to think about this from your donor’s perspective. Say they have a free evening to relax at home, and they are thinking about how they’ll use their free time. Does it seem likely that they will think, “Oh, I really love that organization I’ve been supporting, and I’ve been told they have an amazing planned giving website with lots and lots of pages, links, and tools. I think I’ll spend my evening (and possibly the rest of the week) reading through all that content to find out all of the options available to me. I’ll just grab a snack and get right to work!”

Of course not. Educating donors is a worthy goal with good intentions, but donors don’t want to read a bunch of technical information and become planned giving experts. They don’t want to decipher legal jargon and confusing terms. They care about the organization and want it to be well. So let’s answer the question they are really asking about planned giving.

Inspiration, Not Information

More than information, Canopy has found that what they want first and foremost is inspiration. Making an estate gift is an emotional decision. It is an expression of what matters to them, what their time, energy, and money can make possible.

So don’t lead with information about gift planning techniques, or tax tips, or calculators, or an encyclopedia of terms. Lead with inspiration that engages your donors’ greatest aspirations and deepest passions. You’ll quickly discover that for most people, their concern for their family and future generations, their passions, and their community will be the ultimate inspirations as they consider taking action on an estate gift. Focus your message there.