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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.