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E-Newsletter

Click on the links below to access the full articles from our council e-newsletter.  The e-newsletter is distributed three times a year (March, June and September).  If you are interested in providing an article for future issues, please email info@pgcgp.org.

  • Thursday, September 26, 2019 11:09 AM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)
    Written by: Viken Mikaelian, CEO, PlannedGiving.com

    Now more than ever, it is critical for smaller nonprofits to establish a planned giving program. If you’re not going after planned gifts, the nonprofit next door is. And since planned gifts are gifts from the heart, they inspire more cash gifts, too — which means you’re really losing out.

    Consider this: Savvy donors consider a planned giving program evidence that a nonprofit has a sensible plan for the future. What’s more, the “big” nonprofits realize this, and they’re using it (as they should!) to their advantage. If you don’t get on the boat now, you run the risk of being left behind — like a mom-and-pop corner store after Walmart moves in to the neighborhood.

    If you’re consistently saying “I don’t have the time” you’re just making excuses. A simple planned giving program is easy to set up, easy to market, and easy to maintain.

    Here are 9 other evidence-based reasons to establish a planned giving program:

    • The largest intergenerational money transfer in history is happening now. This asset transfer is the perfect time for a planned giving program — just think of the tax deductions would-be donors are desperately trying to find!
    • The average planned gift is 200 to 300 times larger than a donor’s largest annual gift.
    • The average planned gift is between $35,000 and $70,000 (Still want to focus on getting a $20 annual gift?).
    • Even during economic downturns, planned gifts have consistently risen.
    • Just 5% of this nation’s wealth is in cash. The rest is in easy to give assets like stocks, etc.
    • An established planned giving program costs about .3 to .15 cents for every $1 raised.
    • Those who work in the planned giving field earn 150% to 200% more than those in the annual giving field.
    • Anyone can make a planned gift — it’s not just for the wealthy. In fact, bequests are the main gift of the middle class.
    • You don’t need to be a tax law expert — you just need people skills.

    Bequests — The Gifts that Keep on Giving

    Now let’s back up: A simple planned giving program is easy to set up, easy to market, and easy to maintain. If you do nothing else, set up a bequest program. The majority of all planned gifts are in the form of a bequest. It’s the easiest planned gift to make — it’s either written into a will, or added through a codicil. In 2017, as reported by Charity Navigator, giving by bequest increased by 2.3% to $35.70 billion.

    • Setting up a bequest program is easy. 
    • Marketing your bequest program is easy, too: Include it on your website, mention it in donor communications (you can even include a link in your email signature), and send out postcards a few times a year. Have a vendor create a simple bequest brochure.
    • Maintaining your program is even easier: Keep your materials up to date, and send out regular postcards/donor communications — oh, and watch your endowment grow!

     Do it today. Your board will be happy, and you might even get a raise!

    Success@PlannedGiving.Com

  • Thursday, September 26, 2019 11:06 AM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Matt Keller, Director of Marketing, RenPSG

    The Chronicle of Philanthropy released the results of a recent study they conducted in partnership with Harris Poll and the Association of Fundraising Professionals that said 51% of fundraisers in the United States plan to change jobs by 2021. That’s a concerning statistic for many nonprofit organizations. Fundraising professionals cite not enough staff, not enough resources, lack of organizational structure, low income potential, and unrealistic goals as reasons for the shift in career path.

    That stat, if it becomes a reality, could send shockwaves through the nonprofit world. How are charitable organizations going to maintain their fundraising efforts while losing half of their fundraising power? What will they do with when the institutional knowledge walks out their doors? It could take years to develop the relationships needed to solicit a major gift. And the connection that major gift donors make with fundraisers after the gift is made is one that could pay dividends in the future. The smart play is to launch a retention strategy now to prevent a catastrophic event two years down the road.

    Anyone who has worked in or with the nonprofit industry knows that few other sectors are stretched as thin. Each department is asked to do more with less in an effort to bring down overhead and direct more of the funds raised to the mission of the charity. Along with 93% of the respondents to the survey citing their belief in the mission of the organization as a reason to stay, 78% of those polled said they wished they had more time to spend with donors. But fundraisers are pulled in many directions and spreading a smaller gift officer team across a larger portfolio of potential donors means less time with each. That’s a perfect recipe for burnout.

    Nonprofit employers often offer additional time off, better medical leave and a flexible work environment to make up for lower compensation. But what if there was a way to raise compensation, reduce the amount of overhead the company spends on back office tasks all while retaining the valuable relationships that gift officers have worked so hard to grow? This is where a company like RenPSG can help.

    Outsourcing your back-office administration is a great solution for many nonprofits, but finding a single place to outsource everything can be tricky. Since 1987, RenPSG has been the trusted partner for charitable gift solutions and has a staff with the skills and experience to manage it all. RenPSG’s gift administration services include, tax preparation and reporting, annual reports, accounting and sub-accounting services, grant and contribution processing and more. Letting RenPSG’s professionals manage the back office will allow nonprofits to reallocate resources (human, capital, and expense) to focus on what they do best – fundraising!

    Contact RenPSG today and retain your fundraisers tomorrow. Give us a call at 800.843.0050 or send us an email at consulting@reninc.comand let’s work together to find a strategy for your nonprofit organization.

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 1:20 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Eric R. Almonte, JD, Associate Vice President of Major Gifts at Saint Joseph’s University

    Asking donors questions and using data are important elements in successful fundraising. I once asked a consistent annual fund donor, who had given for over 25 years, if he considered leaving a gift to the university in his estate plans.  He quickly responded, “No! In fact, if we do this right, my wife and I won’t leave anything for our children or you guys.” He said this firmly, and continued sipping his coffee.

    This gentleman was an unwavering annual fund donor and typically gave $100. I would visit him once a year. I knew he was not a major gift prospect, but I thought he had potential to be a good planned giving prospect.

    Fast forward a few years later, I was visiting him and his wife in Florida after they retired and had moved down there to enjoy the warm weather. During the visit, I thanked them both for their loyal support.  I shared some updates and let them know that we would be having a Planned Giving Society event next year and that I would invite them to the luncheon. The luncheon was an opportunity for our Vice President of Planned Giving to provide an update on the university. They both attended the luncheon, connected with fellow alumni and had a lovely time. During the event there was never a hard sell on planned giving, rather resource sharing on ways to give. At the end of the luncheon, there was a table with information about our planned giving program.

    A few weeks later, I got a call from the donor thanking me for inviting them to the event. He said he also called to talk about their estate and that they had some ideas. He proceeded to say they wanted to leave 5% of their estate to the university’s college of business and that they were also interested in learning more about charitable gift annuities (CGAs). After consulting and collaborating with my colleague in the Office of Planned Giving, we were able to secure a six-figure commitment from their estate and a six-figure CGA.

    Ultimately, the reason we ask is to listen and cultivate, because we never know what our donor’s intentions are until we are able to have conversations about their philanthropy.  Additionally, we never know what might inspire a donor to give. Looking back, when I first asked about estate planning, they weren’t ready to commit to a planned giving conversation. However, after more cultivation and better engagement, they were inclined to have a conversation about planned giving.

    I enjoy sharing this story because it demonstrates the importance of not only asking whether we are in their estate plans or not, but also, among other things, the importance of using data to help us on visits. Knowing that they were consistent annual fund donors, enabled us to discuss the topic of planned giving. The challenge was understanding that they also needed more cultivation to close these gifts.

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 1:19 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: R. Daniel Shephard, CFRE, Principal, Frontline Fundraiser Training and Consulting

    The work of charitable gift planning can be quick when the donor calls to request information on a certain way to make a gift.  Far more often you will need to work to discover that a certain gift strategy/asset might appeal to someone with whom you’re working.  That makes it important, once you decide to introduce a specific way to give, that you maximize your chances for success.

    Your challenge is to do that in a way that’s intellectually accessible and emotionally appealing – to the donor.  A too-early transition from a conversational approach to legal/technical language is counter-productive to your goal. 

    I learned this approach during a failed attempt at introducing a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) to the perfect prospect.  She was 82 and in good health, she had assets in her retirement portfolio producing a low income stream, and she needed to increase income.  I suggested that I tell her about a Charitable Gift Annuity.  She replied, “An annuity?  Isn’t that like insurance?  Oh, I’m not interested in that.”  That was the entire conversation.

    Consider these three steps when you’re ready to introduce your thoughtfully-chosen gift idea.

    1. ANNOUNCE Your Agenda

    “I want to talk with you about a gift plan that provides you several benefits.”  Name them; get your donor’s attention and emotional buy-in.  Let’s pick a Charitable Gift Annity for this example:

    • “It’s a gift plan that will increase your income.”  
    • “It will provide a charitable income tax deduction for part of the gift.”
    • “Your income payment will always stay the same.”  
    •  “AND it allows you to make the gift we have been discussing”

    Ask – “May I explain how this works for you?”

    2. DESCRIBE the gift plan.

    Now you can explain, still using conversational language, how the plan works.  Stay focused on how it benefits the donor.  Resist the inclination to name the gift plan too soon. Once you say, “Let me tell you how a charitable gift annuity works,” you’re at risk of the donor honing in on the word “annuity” and drawing conclusions before you have the chance to explain how this gift strategy works.

    Instead, reiterate the donor benefits while pointing to pertinent parts of your printed materials.  Let’s use our CGA illustration example to connect benefits for your donor to details of how the gift works.  Work through the gift illustration you brought to the meeting as you plan how to go through its pages in conversational language.  Referring to the donor benefits mentioned above:

    • “It’s a gift plan that will increase your income.”  Now guide your donor through the pertinent page in your printed illustration to show how this works.
    • “Your income payment will always stay the same.”  Now guide your donor through the pertinent page in your printed illustration.
    • “It will provide a charitable income tax deduction for part of the gift.”  Now guide your donor through the pertinent page in your printed illustration.
    • “AND it allows you to make the gift we have been discussing.”  Now guide your donor through the pertinent page in your printed illustration.

    3. INVITE questions & discussion

    Once you have gotten your donor’s attention s/he will be more inclined to learn the details. In fact, you should look at Step 3 as a through-line.  Invite questions and discussion throughout the conversation.

    Short summation: emotionally appealing and intellectually accessible – to the donor.

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 1:18 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Tom Yates, Executive Director of Gift Planning, Temple University

    I recently took the Amtrak from 30th Street Station to Washington, DC for the National Capital Gift Planning Council’s annual Planned Giving Day conference.   Many NCGPC members come from large national cause organizations based in the nation’s capital, and these organizations have huge fundraising budgets and spend a lot on planned giving marketing. 
     

    Partially because of those big budgets, there was no shortage of marketing firms looking for new business at the conference.  And that’s what also drew me – national organizations and the agencies that serve them tend to be innovative in their planned giving marketing approaches.  What fuels that innovation is a willingness to try new things, which requires a willingness to spend money.

    The Nature Conservancy is an example of this.  Its devotion to planned giving program building goes back decades.  It’s all paying off for the Nature Conservancy and then some now: it receives more than $100 million in realized estate gifts annually.  Yes, that’s right, every year.  That level of cash in the door each year can go a long way in helping to save the planet. 

    Sure, it’s the Nature Conservancy, few non-profits in the world raise more money.  It’s not even fair to compare any of our efforts with such a behemoth.  And one could argue that since the Nature Conservancy has more than a million members it would have received $100 million plus in estate realized gifts every year anyway, regardless of all that planned giving marketing and program building over the years. 

    Maybe.  I doubt it though.  The Nature Conservancy’s ratio of realized estate dollars to number of solicitable donors in its database is several orders of magnitude larger than what almost all of our organizations can muster.  It didn’t get there by accident.  A lot of thought and work went into it.  Investments were made.

    But how could our organizations invest so much in planned giving?   We have to keep our annual giving machine pumping out the mail appeals, we have our army of major gift officers to pay and train, we have to keep churning out and budgeting for the fundraising galas and 5K runs.  We have to “hit goal” this year, right? 

    Don’t be fooled, this is not a false dilemma.  Investments in our planned giving programs should be on par with those of our other fundraising programs.  After all, look how well it’s worked out for the Nature Conservancy.  Sadly, it’s rarely the case.  Whether its organizational leaders, fundraising leaders, or both, not many want to approve spending increases that may only pay off for their successors years from now.  But is that best for the organization? 

    So, let’s not allow the doubters deter us.  Do your organization a huge favor and be like the Nature Conservancy: prioritize planned giving.  Ask for a bigger planned giving marketing budget.  And the next year ask for even more money.  You just might save the world too.

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 1:17 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Viken Mikaelian, CEO, PlannedGiving.com

    There’s a lesson that fundraisers can learn from the history of Niagara Falls — specifically, about a suspension bridge that, from 1855 to 1897, connected the United States to Canada over the roaring waters. Here’s the story how it was built.

    Engineering Challenge

    The Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is 800 feet wide at the falls. The sheer cliffs that make up either side of the Whirlpool Gorge are 225 feet high. In the 19th Century, there was no technology available to easily span that gap and begin construction of a bridge.

    Engineers proposed using a rocket, or a shell fired by a cannon, to carry a line across the gorge, but neither idea offered a very probable solution.

    A Marketing Twist: Hire a Kid with a Kite

    Enter local ironworker Theodore G. Hulett, who told the engineers to go fly a kite — or rather, have a child fly one and offer a prize for the first kite to make it to the other side of the gorge.

    This Was Brilliant Marketing ...

    With $5 on the line — a splendid and princely sum in those days — 16-year-old Homan Walsh beat out the scores of other kids from nearby towns who participated. He managed to get his kite across that 800-foot gap, where its line was then tied off.

    What's the Big Deal?

    Engineers used the kite string as a pilot line to pull a stronger rope from the Canadian side back to the American side. That was used to pull an even thicker, stronger rope back to Canada. After several of these exchanges, a rope strong enough to carry a cable was finally in place. The cable was pulled across — and that provided the starting point for the foundation of the bridge.

    “Building the Bridge to an Endowment”

    How does this relate to planned giving? Because a simple, single kite with a single small thread (i.e., your first baby step) became the catalyst for a massive construction project that led to the bridge (i.e., your endowment).

    It is amazing how many answers lie in simple solutions. Right in front of us.

    So many fundraisers are “stunned” when they have to face the startup of a planned giving program — they envision it being a massive project and just do not know where to begin. Yet by following the same principle as the one used to build the suspension bridge, one can easily start a planned giving program with a few simple steps.

    Some of the best minds in the planned giving world are involved in the Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia (and one is me).  Take the first step by utilizing your resources!

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 1:16 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Delia Perez, Director of Planned Giving, Fairleigh Dickinson University

    Rev. Thomas L. Shanklin fondly reminisces about his FDU education at Wroxton College during the spring of 1967 in Oxfordshire, England. “Wroxton was my most significant life-changing experience. It challenged me and sparked my curiosity to find my true calling in life,” says Tom.

    He is a first generation American, born to Harold and Anna Shanklin. Harold, born in 1896, was descended from Loyalists to the Crown of England, who immigrated to Canada in 1783. Anna, born in Germany in 1907, was sent at age 15 to Hoboken, N.J., to send money home after World War I. Harold and Anna met in Hoboken, and married in March 1928 in Detroit. They relocated to Basking Ridge, N.J., where on November 11, 1944, they welcomed their third child, Tom.

    Although his parents had only an eighth-grade education, they were avid readers and lifelong learners. They encouraged Tom to read everything and strive to use his abilities to be his best. Tom graduated from Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, N.J., in 1962. His IQ test results scored him in the top 5% of the country, but he was told his overall grades didn’t qualify him to pursue a college education. 

    However, in the summer of 1963, Tom decided to enroll in evening classes at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He worked days in a family-owned industrial hardware business in Hanover, N.J. He studied business but was bored with the material. His grades reflected his lack of interest. He decided he did not want to work for big companies like IBM or Exxon.

    Instead, Tom became more involved in his church and studied pipe-organ under the guidance of an insightful teacher who mentored and affirmed his value within the community. The experience created a strong church affinity for him and further increased his interest in church history and theology.

    Tom’s 1967 Wroxton experience greatly contributed to his pursuit of education and challenged him to look at the world differently. Under the tutelage of FDU Professor Walter Savage, and his wife, Patty, and his Wroxton classmates, Tom says, “It awakened me to a world of possibilities.” The Savages not only taught the students, but also mentored and encouraged them to learn and have fun. Wroxton piqued his interest in history, fostered enduring friendships, and changed his life forever.

    In retrospect, Tom refers to Wroxton as his “capstone experience” that was both life affirming and confidence building as he successfully managed his first time away from home traveling alone to England. After finishing his Wroxton semester, Tom opted to explore Europe alone on just $5 a day throughout the summer of 1967. He returned home to finish his studies at FDU.  

    Tom graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1968 with a B.S. in Business Management and Marketing. He changed his academic focus to theology and graduated from Drew University’s Theological School with a Master of Divinity in 1972 and a Master of Sacred Theology in 1974. He continued his studies, pursuing a Ph.D. in Theology and History. His specialized field of study is Theology and Methodist History.

    During the summers of 1968 to 1970, he worked with the Boy Scouts of America as the Protestant Chaplain at Horseshoe Scout Reservation in Rising Sun, MD. From 1970 to 1971, he served as Chaplain Intern with the Wesley Foundation at the University of Houston in Texas. In the summer of 1971, he served as the Coordinating Protestant Chaplain at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M., the largest scout facility in the world comprising 210 square miles and hosting up to 20,000 Boy Scouts each summer.

    Tom is an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church. He has served as pastor of churches in Kansas, New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire. He was ordained Deacon in the New York Conference of the United Methodist Church, having been recommended for ministry by the congregation of John Street United Methodist Church, New York City, the oldest Methodist Congregation in America founded in 1766. He was ordained Elder at First United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas in 1975.

    Tom lives his true calling and pastors a value-driven life within his church family. He taught at Nathaniel Hawthorne College in Antrim, N.H.; has been a member of the American Guild of Organists; and served as founder and president of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center, Inc. in Vermont.

    He credits his FDU business marketing studies to help promote his creative work. He has written extensively on Biblical themes and Methodist History publishing books of devotionals and stories. His articles have appeared in a variety of periodicals and he also published two books about Wroxton. His new joy is writing murder mysteries about “characters” he has known. Tom makes his home in New Hampshire and Florida where he pursues his passion for writing, photography, choral singing, pipe-organ playing, theatre arts, travel, and much more.

    Tom believes in the importance of making a difference in the lives of others. He encourages everyone to “stay curious, read a lot, walk, laugh often, and play in the dirt.” Given the current world situation, Tom says, “People are desperate for love and kindness, and want to discuss the Divine and thoughts about life and after life. A legacy of living everyday sharing small acts of kindness helps us to fully connect and converse and come to better understand each other while having the courage to be open minded and willing to share, and not limit life to just staring at a cell phone.”

    With deep appreciation for his life-affirming experience at Wroxton, Tom included FDU’s Wroxton College in his estate plan. Tom says, “I am grateful for FDU’s founder and first President, Peter Sammartino, Walter and Patty Savage, my classmates and others who made my Wroxton experience possible. My legacy gift for Wroxton College will help support and enhance this wonderful treasure, and hopefully, also inspire future Wroxton students to discover their own true calling in life.”

    Tom Shanklin shown carrying the FDU Wroxton flag for the Shakespeare Birthday Celebration Parade with his Wroxton classmates in the spring of 1967.

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 1:15 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Beth Harper Briglia, CAP & CPA, Vice President, Philanthropy Services

    We often look closely at funds expended on memberships in professional organizations. Like me, you probably belong to several associations, and have to justify the cost to belong to those organizations. I have no trouble justifying my membership in the Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia. Why?

    PGCGP provided me with the mentorship that I needed when I entered the world of planned giving. A mentor is an advisor who can guide you to greater knowledge in a field. Trained as a CPA, I had years of professional experience. However, I had never engaged in philanthropic planning. PGCGP provided me the education to be successful. More importantly, I found colleagues who have offered their expertise and guidance as I have matured in my philanthropic advisory role. I am proud to call these colleagues my mentors.

    Encouraged to join PGCGP by a colleague, I was welcomed into the ranks of those who at that time had much more expertise than I in this field. Volunteering on the Planned Giving Day Committee gave me the opportunity to meet experts in a field that often seems complex and confusing. My colleagues have introduced me to professional experts and information sources; urged me to obtain my CAP certification; speak at and participate in professional events and to serve as a mentor.

    As a mentor, I enjoy the opportunity to give back to an organization and colleagues that have given much to me. One such colleague is Shelley Speirs who shares her story below.

    Written by: Shelley Speirs, MBA, Director of Major and Planned Gifts, East Stroudsburg University Foundation

    I was first introduced to the Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia (PGCGP) by a colleague who invited me to a seminar as her guest.  The experience was very informative and offered a deeper level of understanding of philanthropic planning and planned gifts.  Speaker presentations and collegial conversations at subsequent events were equally stimulating and inspired me to become a member.

    As a benefit of joining PGCGP, I was able to request a mentor and was matched to Beth Harper Briglia.  Beth has been helpful in answering questions, providing advice, sharing materials, and suggesting opportunities to engage with PGCGP.  By way of Beth, I became involved with the 2018 Planned Giving Day committee.  Since then, I was nominated to serve on the PGCGP Board. I graciously accepted and began my service in January 2019.  In April, I participated in the PG Course and have also committed to assist with next year’s programming.

    I can honestly say, the benefits of my PGCGP Membership and the Mentor Program have exceeded my expectations.  I have been able to sharpen my skills in planned giving, remain current on industry news and trends, learn from field experts, create a network of professional colleagues, and provide service back to the organization.

    I look forward to becoming a mentor in the future and guiding others as Beth Harper Briglia and the Council have done for me.  My thanks to Beth and the PGCGP Board for their support. I strongly encourage you to consider a membership to PGCGP, get involved, attend events, serve on a committee, request a mentor, or be one!
  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 8:56 AM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Written by: Anat Becker, JD

    What I appreciate most about our area of expertise, gift planning, is the dynamic nature of the field and the ongoing learning that is fundamental to it. Our personal connections with our constituents are meaningful: listening, supporting and imparting the power of philanthropy to them. Our technical skills require an understanding of estate planning as well as legal and regulatory developments, ensuring that we continuously seek professional education.

    This year is especially interesting, and challenging. We can finally see how the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act affected philanthropic giving and what strategies we can bring back to our organizations. New proposed regulations for gifts of tangible personal property could affect gifts of art and other collectibles. Exciting, but also requiring our attention and new learning opportunities.

    This is where I hope you come to partner with the Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia. Our network of professionals includes gift planners, major gifts officers, annual giving officers, consultants and vendors of essential services. Our meetings provide excellent educational forums and interaction with fellow practitioners who can provide perspective and advice on implementation. Whether it is a strategy of encouraging your donors to bundle gifts in order to maximize tax benefits, or helping them attain their ethical legacy -- together we share our success stories and best practices.

    Please be sure to look at our new and expanded web site and follow the PGCGP on social media. Below you will read more about that. But most importantly, please join us at our various events and programs.

    • On March 22nd, we will host a variety of roundtables in the morning, encouraging conversations and an exchange of ideas. A real estate panel will follow during lunch. Please join us at the beautiful Racquet Club.
    • On April 5 and 12, the Planned Giving Course will once again offer thorough and timely instruction on the elements of gift planning. This year we offer the PG Course at Villanova University with ample parking and easy access from the Blue Route. Please encourage your colleagues who are not yet members of the Council to consider attending this program. It is especially appropriate for fundraisers who are relatively new to the field (as well as for those who are looking to refresh their skill set).
    • And looking ahead, we are in the midst of planning our next Planned Giving Day on October 30th at the iconic Union League.

    I look forward to seeing you soon.

    Anat Becker, JD
    President, Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia



  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 8:56 AM | Denise Downing (Administrator)

    Written by: Patrick Manion, MBA

    Towards the end of 2018 I had some wonderful visits with members of our Legacy Society. I wanted to share some observations and make some recommendations.

    On a lunch visit at a diner, I met with a donor who was having a birthday the next day. They were my first closed gift, and this was our 4th visit in four years. I recalled where we met previously, and I remembered their Thanksgiving tradition. The visit was just before Thanksgiving. I did so without combing over my notes, or trying to memorize information. When you are genuine and sincere, you will remember what matters. I posed the question, "Am I a salesman?" After a minute or so of laughter, we compared notes on just how annoying a salesperson can be. We talked about robocalls, junk mail, and just the trickery surrounding most sales calls. This is why I do not approach my job as if I am in sales. My donors do not think of me as a salesman, so why would I frame myself as one?

    On another lunch visit, my donor insisted in giving me all sorts of "souvenirs" she receives from other nonprofits she supports. Luggage tags, pens, and other stuff. Nice to know who else she supports. At the same time, she was complaining about a gift officer and how they had very little or no time for her. It seemed to me that the gift officer was trying to just make their numbers and not being considerate of her time, her age, her interests, etc. She does not want to talk much about our mission, she tells me, I gave money for research. That means, she supports and respects the work we do in the particular disease area she supports. Do I need to update her further? Do I need to listen to her aches and pains, and what sort of coleslaw she likes? Our next visit will be at a library in her neighborhood to watch a film. I wonder if the gift officer just trying to make their numbers was invited to a matinee? Or did she instruct her banker to make changes to her plans and exclude that charity?

    In these two examples, if you have been in the business for a while, you are probably wondering what point I am trying to make? These observations are nothing new. If you are pretty new to Planned Giving, you are probably wondering why I do not consider myself a salesman. Of late I have noticed a lot of new thinking in the realm of legacy giving. A lot of scientific research, a lot of big data. What are you doing most of your day, or night for that matter? Are you analyzing big data and crunching numbers? Are you questioning what the subject line should be in an email? Are you trying to figure out your best social media strategy? I guarantee you that your donors are not interested in any of the above. They are probably waiting to hear from you, or someone from your institution related to what matters to them. Who is my new scholarship recipient? How are the field staff in Rwanda doing? How was your trip to Ireland? Did you try that new restaurant I recommended after our visit?

    As we move further and further away from our donors and what matters most to them, are they moving further and further away from us?



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