TOOL KIT
March 01, 2015

Getting Started With Planned Gifts

Planned gifts, which combine estate-planning concepts with what are often major charitable gifts, come in many shapes and forms. Some planned gifts are made to organizations after a donor’s death, while others provide a charity with assets while allowing donors to earn an income for a period of time during their life.

Sometimes called legacy gifts, these donations have the potential to help sustain organizations’ budgets and futures. Successful planned-giving programs enable nonprofits to generate significant gifts from donors who may not have the ability to give sizable amounts of cash right away.

“I always refer to planned-giving donors as major-donors-in-waiting,” says Phyllis Freedman, a planned-giving consultant. “It's not an outright gift, but it's probably equal to or larger than most major gifts.”

Like most fundraising, planned giving is first and foremost about building relationships. As fundraising consultant Robert Sharpe says, donors who give your charity an estate gift show that they regard your organization as a close member of their family.

Over all, the decision to contribute via a planned gift centers on donors’ trust in the organization—whether they believe the nonprofit has longevity and will put their funds to good use, says Jeff Lydenberg, vice president of consulting at PG Calc, a firm that provides planned-giving software, marketing, and consulting. That can present a challenge for younger organizations.

While planned giving can be intimidating—there are multiple gift types, tax implications, and financial considerations—it doesn’t have to be complicated.

And organizations are increasingly benefiting from this type of giving. Contributions from bequests, the most common type of planned gift, rose 7.2 percent in 2013, according to the annual Giving USA study.

If you’re thinking about getting into planned giving, here are some basics to get you started.

Tool Kit
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Reaching Out to America’s Emerging Donors

Collections of articles and other resources to help you engage supporters across age, gender, and ethnic lines.

Article
February 27, 2015

Setting Up a Planned Giving Program

Where to start when considering asking donors for planned gifts.

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February 27, 2015

Important Planned Giving Terms and Phrases

Important terms to understand before getting started with a planned giving program.

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February 26, 2015

New to Planned Giving? Watch Out for These Common Pitfalls

What not to do when building a planned-giving program.

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March 01, 2015

Advice: Basic Legal Considerations Before Launching a Planned-Giving Program

An attorney for nonprofits offers advice.

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February 27, 2015

Explaining Planned-Giving Options to Donors

The Ocean Conservancy uses this booklet to explain donors’ options when making a gift from their estates.

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February 27, 2015

A Step-by-Step Guide for Donors Setting Up a Planned Gift

The Ocean Conservancy uses this informational packet to help donors make decisions—and commitments—about planned gifts.

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February 27, 2015

A Template to Help Charities Develop Gift Agreements

The Partnership for Philanthropic Planning offers a model of what to include in a legal agreement for an endowment gift.

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February 28, 2015

A Model Gift Acceptance Policy from the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning

How to spell out the types of gifts your organization accepts and how they’re managed.

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March 01, 2015

Sample Bequest Language for Donors to Include in a Will

The Partnership for Philanthropic Planning provides examples of how to phrase the designation of several types of bequests.

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February 26, 2015

A Template for a Planned-Gift Letter of Intent

A sample form to collect information from donors about their estate gifts.

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February 26, 2015

The Ocean Conservancy’s Planned-Gift Confirmation Form

The nonprofit asks donors to let them know when they’ve made a planned gift—but the organization doesn’t ask about the dollar value first.

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February 27, 2015

A Statement of Commitment to the Georgia Institute of Technology

The university asks donors who commit to planned gifts to complete this form.

Article
February 25, 2015

How a Collaboration Between Two Departments is Yielding Planned-Giving Success

A partnership between planned giving and membership at the Ocean Conservancy is leading to more planned gifts and better direct-mail response.