Characteristics Of A Successful Planned Giving Program

A decade ago I met a donor who was eager to become a Founder of his synagogue on the occasion of a major campaign. But, there was no way that this devoted member, leader and past president, was going to be able to make the minimum gift of $100,000 in his lifetime. The most he thought he could contribute was $5,000 for each of the next five years.

Instead, by structuring a planned gift he was able to increase his current income, reduce his current taxes, and make a sizable philanthropic investment that assured his own financial well being.

We could only do this because our client, the donor’s congregation, recognized the value of charitable gift planning to the success of their proposed efforts. They prepared themselves to accept and manage planned gifts in advance of their campaign—a process which has survived the successful completion of the campaign five years ago, and has since resulted in millions of dollars of additional planned gifts.

In the past months, I have written in this series about the increasing importance of planned giving in these challenging economic times. If you are serious about instituting a planned giving program—and assuring the long-term stability of your enterprise—then it is time to focus upon what you need to consider in advance of implementing such a program. There are seven the key characteristics of a successful program such as those identified by our friends at PGCalc—the leading provider of charitable gift planning products and services for more than a quarter century.

As they observe, the successful operation of a planned giving program requires that:
• the board understands what planned giving is and what having a planned giving program entails.
• the board has consciously settled upon an appropriate scope for the program.
• the board has adopted suitable program policies and guidelines.
• those responsible for operating the program have developed and implemented sound procedures for seeking, receiving, and administering planned gifts.
• a comprehensive marketing plan is created, followed, and refined.
• the principles of the program are donor-centric and enable donors to meet their objectives.
• all aspects of the program are reviewed and assessed on an ongoing basis, with adjustments made whenever necessary.

These seven characteristics can apply not only to planned giving but to nonprofit operations, in general, and all development programs, in particular.

Next month, we will explore the implications of establishing a planned giving program in the small shop.