Planned Giving: The Ultimate Gift of Love

One of my favorite areas of fundraising is planned giving. There is something completely selfless about making a gift that lasts beyond ones lifetime.

It’s also one of the trickier areas of fundraising. Donors will be utilizing non-cash assets to complete gifts. Multiple advisors will likely be involved in the process.

I recently attended a talk by Robert F. Sharpe, Jr. of The Sharpe Group about working with a donor’s advisors to complete major gifts. Advisors are key in the process because they have knowledge that you, as the development director, do not, such as:

  • True capacity
  • Assets
  • Tax picture
  • Family issues
  • Health matters
  • Philanthropic priorties

When we say “advisors,” we’re talking about accountants, attorneys, professional fiduciaries, financial planners, insurance professionals, and investment brokers and counselors. You can also include other family members in the group of advisors.

So, with all of these people involved in the philanthropic decision, what is the role of the development director? Robert Sharpe says it is to expedite and encourage the flow of information among the parties.

This is not only critical to help the close of this particular gift, but good communication and stewardship of the advisors can be key to maximizing the amount received at the death of donors and can lead to additional gifts. It’s important to remember that large estates, especially where complex residual bequest, may take two years or longer to be resolved.

And your job as a development director is not over once the gift closes! You need to thank the family members of your donor. You have a chance to build an intergenerational relationship with your organization. What a wonderful opportunity!

Don’t know where to start with planned giving? 

Begin by including messaging in your newsletters and other donor communication about your organization’s ability to accept planned gifts. One of the easiest ways for donors to include you in their estate is through their will. If you want to be more aggressive with a planned giving campaign, start with your board members and other close supporters. Ask if they would consider putting your organization in their estate plans. It’s as easy as that!

Posted in

Sarah Cortell Vandersypen

Leave a Comment