Planned Giving Summer School Series: Be a summer school seditionist and raise millions

Let’s break the rules!

No new Gift Planning projects from me this summer…instead, I’m going to urge you to make a new best friend at summer school.

Your Annual Giving Colleague (AGC). 


Because your AGC has the inside track to thousands of excellent bequest giving prospects – prospects that are all too often overlooked.

In fact, in most organizations, fantastic bequest prospects make up about one-third of the entire donor database.  The key to unlocking the incredible revenue potential of these prospects is through legacy marketing.

Your AGC can help you:

  • find the best donors in your database (hint: long-term loyal donors, no matter the size of gift)
  • deliver (hint: through direct mail) messages that will inspire donors (hint: inspire, not educate!) to add your charity’s name next to their children’s and cat’s name in their will
  • increase expectancies (hint: by respectfully and directly asking donors to notify you of their intentions)

Even a modest-sized database can yield massive additional revenue through bequest gifts. You can reasonably project over $3 million in bequest gifts per 1000 individuals in your donor database, using a very simple formula to ballpark the impact of a successful bequest marketing program. 

Your AGC will also be happy to know that bequest marketing programs have been proven to boost annual giving revenue (see, this is going to be a beautiful, mutually satisfying friendship).

I know, I know.  Annual Giving people like to talk about postal indicias, online giving platforms, envelopes, telemarketing scripts, font size, storytelling, A/B testing and data.  Lots and lots about data.  And some of us do smell a little, too (it’s not always easy to remember to wash when you are having a real moment with a particularly trippy 5-year lapsed donor spreadsheet).

BUT, the potential is enormous and too many organizations are missing out on a monumental amount of bequest gifts.

So, I’m going to encourage some serious bonding activities this summer.  Sneak out behind the portables and have a cigarette.  Cut class and steal a couple of beers from your dad’s fridge in the garage.  Climb up on the roof of the school and plot your summer-end prank on the teacher who made you go to summer school in the first place.

OK, I can see now that I am really stretching this summer school device…

This summer, smash a silo.  Reach out to your new annual giving bestie and create a legacy marketing program plan that you can present to your boss on the first day back in September.

And if you are in a small shop or you are a Jill-of-all-trades fundraiser, you can still make this work.  Take a chair, place it in front of a mirror – Stuart Smalley-style – and have a deep conversation with your Annual Giving self.

No matter whether you’re breaking the rules with your new bad-ass friend, or making friends with the part of you that you’d almost forgot existed, I promise that there is no more powerful fundraising team than deeply connected Planned and Annual Giving buddies.

Other posts from the Planned Giving Summer School Series:

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