Written By: Susan Sharp, CFRE, Vice President for Philanthropy, Simpson Senior Services
I run a philanthropy department. And by department, I mean me and an administrative assistant! On any given day I could be asking for a complex gift or ordering balloons. Other days I work on board development or hunt down new toner (thanks, COVID). When I step back and reassess what the most important thing I do to support my organization’s mission, I always come back to the same answer… securing planned gifts. Sometimes the road to get there feels like it is straight uphill, and I wonder if I’m taking the right steps.
Our organization was founded and supported decades ago by those willing to invest in the Simpson mission through their estates; some modest amounts and a few that have provided significant support in the sustaining of our work. I would venture a guess to say that a few had specialty advisors and advanced knowledge themselves, but all led with their hearts to do good. Just plain good for a mission they supported and an organization they loved.
This leads me to my point; planned giving is not as complicated as we often make it out to be. Sure, specialty knowledge is necessary. But that type of knowledge is readily available even if you do not have it all together or if you have a small team. I have yet to find a financial advisor, a banking officer or attorney unwilling to help their client (or me!) with heart intentions.
Hearts are captured when we align mission with intention. My job is to tell the story and then tell it again to those that may align. Like the story of being able to keep a 104-year-old woman in her home even after she ran out of her own resources. Or the woman who made technology possible that can help reduce falls for seniors in our care. Both examples occurred recently because of planned giving. There are honestly too many stories to mention here but I find myself in a unique position to capture this knowledge – and to share it!
We all know that research has shown us that donors who give regularly (regardless of size of gift) over a longer period are the most likely to consider a planned gift. Find those people and tell the story of your organization! And then tell the stories again when you are asked to address a group or take a prospect to lunch or write a newsletter article. Tell them!
I hope that this encourages you today, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed or uncertain of where to focus your efforts. The truth is, I have never seen a strong foundation whose backbone did not come from planned giving. Now if you will excuse me, I think my toner is low…