The hard part about planned giving results

Planned giving (also called legacy giving in many places) is one of the most important things you should be working on. It’s also one of the hardest of fundraising challenges to think clearly about.

Two reasons it’s so wrapped in confusion:

  1. The number of donors who participate is small. So small, that on a statistical basis, it’s pretty much zero. But on a revenue basis, it’s huuuuge — bigly huge!
  2. Years, often decades, can go by before your activity pans out in the form of revenue. And often, you don’t even know you’ve made the “sale” at the time you did it.

Here’s some help from the Smart Ideas blog on getting your thinking (or, more likely, the boss’s thinking) straight about planned giving: The Single Worst Way to Evaluate Your Planned Giving Marketing Program.

Bottom line: The revenue generated from your planned giving program today is a direct result of the efforts your organization put forth years ago … even decades ago.

If your legacy giving numbers are down this year, it’s not because of what you did or didn’t do this year. It’s what you did or didn’t do many years ago. It also might be statistical noise, a rea hazard with the small absolute numbers of planned giving.

Having a bad year in your planned giving program is not a signal that you need to change everything. If it happens, look back at previous years — then decide if you are still doing something that you were doing back then that you need to change.

Planned giving is a long game, and there’s nothing you can do to speed it up. (Nothing that isn’t immoral and illegal, anyway!)


Comments

4 responses to “The hard part about planned giving results”

  1. So true! The team at Pareto Fundraising has just completed the benchmarking project for donations in 2016, representing most of the top twenty or so fundraising charities in Australia, plus more than sixty medium sized. With $1.3bn in donations there are many fascinating facts. But in terms of:
    “The number of donors who participate is small. So small, that on a statistical basis, it’s pretty much zero. But on a revenue basis, it’s huuuuge — bigly huge!”
    About 4,000 people ‘raised’ nearly a quarter of the revenue – through legacies.
    Over 3,000,000 raised the other three quarters.
    Like for like that means (approx) one legacy is worth 250 donors.

  2. So true! The team at Pareto Fundraising has just completed the benchmarking project for donations in 2016, representing most of the top twenty or so fundraising charities in Australia, plus more than sixty medium sized. With $1.3bn in donations there are many fascinating facts. But in terms of:
    “The number of donors who participate is small. So small, that on a statistical basis, it’s pretty much zero. But on a revenue basis, it’s huuuuge — bigly huge!”
    About 4,000 people ‘raised’ nearly a quarter of the revenue – through legacies.
    Over 3,000,000 raised the other three quarters.
    Like for like that means (approx) one legacy is worth 250 donors.

  3. Thanks for sharing my post Jeff.

  4. Thanks for sharing my post Jeff.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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