A common misperception among non-profit leaders is that promoting planned giving is overly complex and that conversations with donors about planned giving would quickly escalate out of control, to a point requiring specific information way beyond a level of comfort and even exceeding the expertise held within the entire organization. Those fears are further supported when non-profit leaders attend planned giving education sessions on the finer points of CRUTs, CRATs (unitrusts and annuity trusts), lead trusts, gift annuities, or donor advised funds.
Without a doubt, there is enough detailed knowledge within gift planning to keep even the most experienced practitioners scrambling for textbook support quite often! At times it may be both necessary and helpful to bring in outside help to present complex gift plan scenarios to donors. In many localities, existing community foundations have planned giving staff who can help tremendously, planned gift consultants can also come alongside to help strategize the complex conversations. But not all planned giving discussions need to be so intense, and I contend that engaging an organization’s most loyal donors in planned gift conversations is truly within the grasp of any nonprofit organization. It’s a matter of perspective and a little advance thought.
Most people know at least a little about wills, about life insurance, and about retirement plans. A simple planned giving program can be launched with even a most basic knowledge of these tools. Encouraging donors to include a gift provision in their will or trust is easy to do, often with only an extra sentence or two added to the distribution provisions. A majority of deferred gifts come to organizations via a will or trust anyway, so that’s achievable. Life insurance is often overlooked as a gift planning tool, but many of your donors have older policies that have outlived their original purpose of protecting the family. Now it could be used to fund a future (or present) gift. Gifts from retirement plans may make the most sense of all, simply because the income is never taxed when funds pass to charity but is taxed as income if distributed to the retiree or individual heirs. A charitable provision is easy to arrange by contacting the retirement plan administrator.
Having someone on your development team who is a technical expert in planned giving is nice, but not necessary, for your organization to encourage planned gifts. Simple planned gifts, arranged by your donors in the course of their regular planning, can put your nonprofit group well on the road to planned giving success. It doesn’t require either much staff time or budget to remind your donors, “Remember us in your plans”. But saying it often is important!
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