6 Simple Ways to Promote Planned Giving Today


Planned gifts can involve sophisticated financial instruments. But, the most common way that donors make a planned gift is through a simple bequest or will. 

More than likely, you already have loyal donors who make regular contributions, year after year. They may not make large gifts, but they give consistently — whether annually or more than once a year. These donors are your very best planned giving prospects.

It is not uncommon for this type of loyal donor to leave a bequest to you in their will, without ever telling you. What’s important to them is to ensure that they can help your mission of feeding seniors continue to thrive, long after their passing.

Since you don’t know when your donors are considering these decisions, you need to let them know, on a regular basis, how they can be a huge asset to your organization by making a planned gift. 

So how do you get started?

The key is consistent, regular messaging about planned giving opportunities to your donors. This is something your organization can start doing now with very little cost.

Many donor communications provide an opportunity to promote planned gifts. Here are some examples and helpful tips:

1.    Include a check-off box on the reply form in all direct mail solicitations inviting donors to request information about making a bequest. Be prepared to respond to any inquiries by sending a simple brochure or one-pager explaining how to leave your organization in a will, including sample bequest language.  Even better if you can call, or meet in person, to start to build enduring relationships with the donors who love you the most. 

2.    In acknowledgements, include an insert about planned giving or even mention planned giving in the P.S. of the letter.

3.    Feature profiles of donors who have made a bequest or other planned gifts in your donor newsletters. Including everyday folks who made a bequest, and what motivated them to do it, helps others realize anyone can do this, not only the wealthy.

4.    Devote a portion of your website to promote planned giving. At a minimum, provide sample bequest language, including your organization’s full legal name and tax ID number.

5.    Offer special recognition for planned giving donors. For example, create a Meals on Wheels Legacy Society, or choose a name that suits you. With it, provide a way for donors to inform you if they have left you in their estate plans. This Society serves not only to acknowledge those who have already arranged for a planned gift, it also promotes the idea to others who might be considering it. List Legacy Society members in your Annual Report, on your web site, and/or in a special newsletter.

6.    Send targeted planned giving mailings to segments of your file. The Lautman Meals on Wheels Co-op produces planned giving mailings each year. For more information, ask your Account Executive about upcoming planned giving campaigns.

The most important thing to remember is that the benefits of planned giving marketing are realized over time — not days and months, but years. It can take up to three or more years for you to begin to see the impact of this marketing. But when the bequests start coming in, the impact on your organization can be transformational.