Just about anyone in your database can be a planned giving prospect. When you add to that the fact that there are many not currently in your database who may be candidates for a planned gift, well, that’s a lot of names.
About a week ago, I was meeting with the VP of a local hospital foundation who mentioned that a large number of the bequests his foundation receives “come from out-of-the-blue.” Though his staff does extensive searching for these people to try to establish a link, often there’s no connection between the hospital foundation and the donor.
With all that being said, I guess it’s safe to assume that the world is your oyster when it comes to planned giving prospects. That’s an opportunity, for sure. But it’s also like going fishing for Jaws with a worm at the end of a fishing pole.
At Rescigno’s, we suggest a 5-step process that includes acquisition followed by a nurturing phase:
Before sending a newsletter to a mass audience (acquisition), create a targeted list that you will nurture before the newsletter goes out.
Test frequent and infrequent donors to see if it matters.
Devise other ways to segment your list—like volunteers or participants in events, for example.
Acquisition efforts should try to get your prospects to self-identify where they are in the consideration process and what topics they are interested in.
When you’ve determined who is interested, what they’re interested in, and where they are in the consideration process- then you should educate them with valuable information sent with enough frequency to make your point.
Send relevant information to each prospect for planned giving. Personalized communications engage prospects and deliver value. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t be successful, but will be expensive. Think of it this way – would you want a newsletter that includes several topics you aren’t interested in or one that gives you information you care about?
If you’re at a stage in your nonprofit’s life cycle where planned giving discussions are appropriate, Rescigno’s recommends spending a proportionate amount of your budget on acquisition so you can find planned giving prospects who will make their interests known as well as where they are in the consideration process. Then, invest in a smaller, more qualified list that uses the information from the acquisition you did to send frequent, highly-personalized, relevant educational information.