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Michigan Women's Foundation
Women's Road Map
Special Issue : Planned Giving
March - April 1998

Planned Giving: A Checklist
The Year 2000
Do's for Planned Giving Officers
Don't for Planned Giving Officers

Planned Giving:
A Checklist
by John G. Fike.

Arguably most of southeast Michigan's charitable organizations have little or nothing in place in the way of a planned and deferred giving program. Many staffers express the desire to have one; many have begun to educate their boards and executive staff about the advantages of having such a program. This will become an increasingly important issue in the next 20-25 years, as the largest wealth transfer of all times takes place. Something on the order of $10-12 trillion will pass to the baby boomer generation from their parents, aided and abetted by twenty years of the most productive markets ever seen.

It is not important that every charity have a full-blown planned giving operation like the larger educational and health institutions. What is crucial, however, to every charity's obtaining their fair share of this wealth transfer, is that every non-profit be ready to receive a bequest, the proceeds of a trust or an insurance policy, or like gift. It is important, too, that each charity be able to periodically emphasize to its donors that gifts of a planned or deferred nature are appropriate and desired by that charity, and that these gifts will be taken care of with appropriate professionalism.

Here is a checklist that you can use to measure the progress you organization has made toward setting up a planned giving program. This will give you some ideas about where to start and what to do next. It can also be a training tool for those in your shop who need some education about the benefits of planned giving.

Answer each with "YES," "NO", or "SORT OF"


Key volunteers have mentioned PG _____
Your Exec has talked about wanting PG _____
Your board members have mentioned PG _____
Your development director wants PG _____
Your development staff want PG _____
Your program staff want PG _____


You've done some board education _____
You've got a commitment from the board _____
You've been training your exec _____
You have a commitment from the exec _____
You've got a commitment from the director of development _____
You've set a timetable for beginning _____
You have a consultant in mind _____
You have a consultant hired to help _____
You're going to hire PG staff soon _____


You have had a information and illustration session for your board _____
You have talked one-on-one with board members about specific gifts _____
You have started training other volunteers _____
Your executive has attended a PG seminar _____
Your director of development has attended a PG seminar _____
You have attended a PG seminar _____


Your organization has toyed with the idea of setting up an endowment fund _____
Your organization is substantively looking into setting up an endowment fund _____
Your organization is writing its document to start an endowment fund _____
You have an endowment fund in place _____


Your donors donŝt know whether you have PG handling capability or not _____
You have thought about getting started but donŝt know where to begin _____
You have some ideas about a wills brochure _____
You have dropped that first wills piece in the mail _____
Your donors are beginning to catch on to your capability; you know this by the reply cards they send back _____
You have regular mailings on PG _____
Your donors know you know what to do when you get a planned gift; you regularly receive reply cards from your mailings _____
You have a PG newsletter _____
You have some donor cultivation plans _____
You are actually cultivating a gift or gifts _____
You have an active cultivation program _____


You have no capability to make up PG financial models and gift comparisons _____
You have access to a financial or estate planning professional who can help you with financial models _____
You have a consultant who provides you with financial models and comparisons on demand when you want them _____
You have in-house computer software that is capable of producing your own financial models and comparisons _____


You wouldnŝt know what to do if a bequest came in tomorrow _____
You have an idea of what youŝd do but no policy/procedure _____
You have some elementary policy and are working on procedures_____
You have a full set of policies and procedures for dealing with PGs _____


Your recognition system is very simple _____
You have thought about the issue of integrating PG recognition in with other recognition programs that are in place _____
You have devised a special PG recognition program _____
You have a successful recognition program for all kinds of gifts including Planned Gifts _____

John G. Fike, CFRE is President of Philanthropy Solutions, a fund raising consulting firm that specializes in getting charitable organizations up and running in planned and deferred giving programs that are suitable for their size, budget and staff. Philanthropy Solutions also assists non-profits with annual fund drives and capital campaigns, which then become sources of prospects for planned and deferred gifts. See the website at http://www.philsol.com for more information or contact John at johnfike@philsol.com directly. His phone number is 313-821-0892 or you can send a fax to 313-821-3339.

If you want or need help in starting a planned giving program that is just the right size for your organization's needs and capabilities, call the Michigan Women's Foundation, and they will refer you to the resources that can help you make it happen.

The Year 2000
by Melissa Batchilder
Tech will drive marketing of planned gifts

With technology being the most rapidly changing force in the universe as we hurtle toward the year 2000, a solid marketing strategy fueled by those bells and whistles will be a development officer's solution to crossing the millennium profitably, said Mary M. Knight, director of development at Luther Hospital/Mayo Health System.

That technology should be refined and turned to each development office's individual needs, said Knight, who made the comments during a session at the recent National Conference on Planned Giving in New Orleans.

"The technological revolution will continue, affecting our work processes and also impacting how donors receive information and respond to it," said Knight. With that in mind, she said, there are many devices for disseminating and making information available.

Knight forecast that e-mail will be one of the most convenient methods of communicating with donors at the turn of the century. "You don't have to disturb people the way you do when using a phone for fax. E-mail is prompt and user-friendly for both you and your donors," she said. However, Knight advised users to "be cautious when discussing sensitive, confidential, or legally binding information with donors. You won't want to do this {on e-mail}."

Some donors will access and tour organizations through their Web sites. However, other donors will resist this mode of communication and will need to be reached via traditional methods, such as telephone, mailings and personal visits. Knight suspects stocks and other transactions may be electronic along with banking services, which will be fully automated. "The public may pay dearly for personal attention and services."

Mergers of nonprofit organizations may dominate the sector's future, Knight said. As a result, public trust in organizations may be affected as donors see new names, new logos, mega- organizational structures and changes in personnel. "Development officers can be instrumental in making a smooth transition and may benefit greatly from expanded resources," she added.

According to Knight, there are two types of mergers: parent company and satellites and similar type institutions. When mergers occur, details can override fund-raising. Be cautious of "not knowing where you're going." Be sensitive to network or system logos and colors if you are in a merger situation.

The role of the development officer is to be an educator throughout the merger process, Knight said. The officer needs to inform donors accurately as progress is made, and it is the responsibility of the officer to be a liaison and communicate effectively not only with the donors but also with the administration, she added. "A development officer needs to be a partner to peers and a stable force in the relationship between the organization and donor," Knight said.

While tax code changes are minimal during an election year, there may be upheaval in government policies following the year 2000, she said. The economy and stock market will reflect these changes. "We need to stay turned. Read journals and attend sessions to keep updated on laws and other pertinent information affecting charitable giving," she said.

A marketing plan is a firm, solid and secure means of lessening the unpredictability of the future. Form it with these questions:

Knight suggests several marketing strategies: existing materials, pre-printed materials, creating new materials, a Web site, seminars, campaigns and marketing techniques such as donor life cycle, use of logos and use of color and design.

Estate planning vehicles will be more familiar in general by the time the century turns. There will be examples of most kinds of gifts before most donors and professionals, and these gifts will be heralded by various organizations. "Estate planning concepts will be more common in the year 2000 because so many organizations will be promoting the many ways people can make charitable gifts."

What will change, however, is the less emphasis on the vehicles themselves and more concern with the matching values of the donors to the gift options.

Donors will increasingly understand they have some control over social capital, Knight said. "They are discovering they can direct their taxes to local charities and thereby accomplish their philanthropic goals and pass on their values through the work of organizations."

Key thought: Remember, a donor typically needs to hear the message at least four times through various marketing methods to be comfortable enough to move forward.

Do's for Planned Giving Officers

Consider the FLAG system for identifying donors: Frequency, Longevity, Age, Gender.

Segregate your mailing lists for better targeting and cost savings.

Thank donors often through lunches, breakfasts, special notes, calls or visits.

Keep copious notes on donors following conversations and visits.

Plan your year, spacing events and developing time lines that are realistic.

Evaluate your program. Look at the whole picture. What are your goals--what is and isnŝt working?

Strive for a good mix of mailings, events, socials and appeals.

Involve as many volunteers as possible. They will lead you to donors.

Don'ts for Planned Giving Officers

  • Assume the most visually wealthy are your best prospects.

  • Mail everyone the same thing all the time. Segregate your lists.

  • Assume you will remember everything about a donor without written notes.

  • Forget to thank your donors and volunteers in several ways.

  • Forget to listen to suggestions and comments, even the more critical ones.

  • Be hesitant to try new strategies, but try a new idea modestly to see if there is interest.

  • Expect immediate gifts, although this may happen.

    The articles "The Year 2000" and "Do's & Don'ts for Planned Giving Officers" are re-printed with permission from The NonProfit Times.

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