Thanks to Viken Mikaelian from Planned Giving.com for his recent exchange with me about nonprofit sustainability and planned giving. Here’s the piece which he recently posted on LinkedIn.
I recently had a brief conversation with a friend of mine, Sophie Penney. Sophie has 20 years of experience as a front-line fund fundraiser with a successful track record of raising major, planned, corporate and foundation, and capital campaign gifts. She lives in State College, PA.
Over 50% of nonprofits are:
- Identifying priorities
- Ensuring that job descriptions are in place, and
- Utilizing a fundraising plan.
While a majority of nonprofit respondents are utilizing a fundraising plan, a surprising 72% did not have a communications plan in place to make donors aware of planned giving opportunities. Planned giving, why would marketing planned gifts be a factor in nonprofit sustainability? We need money today!
Me (Viken): “I see it all the time. There are so many nonprofits that fail to see the need for a communications (or marketing) plan. And then they complain that they’re always short on money, and are always holding emergency fundraisers or begging for gifts. It’s a ‘reactive’ mindset, rather than a proactive one. I call it deferring the deferred. Or, to use an age-old saying: ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail.’ ”
Sophie: What if you wanted to build a facility that would enhance the quality of life of your clients, but your nonprofit had only a portion of the money needed to do so? What if your board agreed to borrow money toward the project, but it would still not be enough to bring the project to fruition? How would a planned gift factor in?
If your nonprofit had a fund to which unrestricted bequests or other unrestricted planned gifts could be directed, you could potentially employ those funds to support the construction project. You might even consider using the monies in that fund to match $1 for $1 every gift made to a capital campaign that would finance the new facility.
Me: “Exactly. That’s a great example. There are just so many things a nonprofit can accomplish by establishing a planned giving program. And you know what? Just having a planned giving program in place brings more annual gifts, too, because it establishes that nonprofit’s legitimacy. It shows donors and prospects the board has a long-range plan; that the nonprofit is serious about its mission and it’s in capable hands.”
Sophie: That was precisely the scenario employed by a continuing care retirement community that wanted to build a therapy pool on its campus. When I was Director of Development at that nonprofit we developed a capital campaign, the first ever for that nonprofit, which employed $600k from an unrestricted gifts fund to match $1 for $1 new gifts toward the therapy pool. The board agreed to either draw down on reserves or borrow the remaining $600k needed to bring the project to fruition. However, the board never needed to take either of those steps thanks to the generosity of donors who together contributed $1M. By the way, the $600k came from a $550k unrestricted bequest, plus a bit of income that had accrued on that bequest while it had been invested.
Me: “That’s perfect. Plus it drives home my point about planned giving programs bringing in additional gifts. And — to get back to your earlier point — I’ll bet a solid communications and marketing plan was also a contributing factor to the campaign’s success.”
Would you like to learn more about how planned giving, gifts planned today and given tomorrow, could factor into your nonprofit’s sustainability? We both welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you and hope to hear from you.
Please leave your comments for Sophie here.
You may leave your comments for Viken here.