Your charity or nonprofit doesn’t need much to get started with planned giving, but you do need two critical ingredients. Here’s what I look for to decide whether Planned Giving is feasible at a charity:
7 years under your belt. I used to say a nonprofit should have a steady 10 years working in its mission, but I’ve relaxed that to seven. You need that because you’ll be asking potential donors to include you in their estate plans, which will mean cash to you at their deaths (for the majority of planned gifts).
Donors need confidence that your work will survive them. If you’ve been at it for less than seven years, your longevity is questionable. Everyone hopes your good work will live on forever, but there won’t be great confidence if you’ve been working it less than seven years.
There are exceptions. If you’ve got rabid supporters you can be successful with a couple of years less.
Individual donors 55 and over. That’s the age I start promoting Planned Giving. It’s when large numbers of people begin recognizing their will or other estate plan as a method of charitable giving. Before then, it’s much more about guardianship for children and security for college educations and the mortgage, as well as gifts to family.
To be sure, thirty- and forty-somethings include charities in their wills. But not in large numbers. Not in numbers large enough to justify spending your scarce time and money promoting the idea to them. It’s an unwise use of resources.
I also want you to avoid risking the much greater likelihood that those younger than 55 will change their minds and remove you from their wills.
In our twenties, thirties and forties do we know the charities that are close enough to us that we’ll maintain them all our lives next to our spouse, children and grandchildren in our will? With as many as 60 or 70 years to live? No we don’t.
The sole exception to this is board members. As the most invested volunteers, each of them should include you in their will. Some will remove you after their term, but while they’re serving you should be in their estate plan.
The Stelter Company has research that disagrees with me, and encourages Planned Giving promotion at age forty, much younger than I counsel. There’s a link to their research and my response on my blog.
With these two features in place, your charity is ready to promote Planned Giving!
Tony Martignetti consults in Planned Giving and hosts Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. His show is dedicated to helping small nonprofits with the mantra, “Big Nonprofit Ideas for the Other 95%.” Each week, Tony brings big nonprofit ideas from trusted experts, authors and thought leaders, to small- and mid-size shops. You can subscribe to Nonprofit Radio on iTunes. Follow Tony on Twitter and check out his blog.