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Planned Giving

Below you will find all of our past articles to help you with your planned giving. It is a long list of articles so don't hesitate to bookmark this page and come back often. If you would like more great fundraising information in the future then please sign up for an email notification whenever we publish a new article.


Raising Planned Gifts by Mail by Larry Stelter

Despite the lack of confidence we sometimes feel about direct mail’s efficacy, the fact remains - it works. Maybe one day this will change - perhaps the Internet will come into its own as a fundraising medium. But for now, raising planned gifts by mail is a solid and revenue-producing strategy.

However, unlike holiday greetings and change of address notifications, your planned giving mailings can’t be showered on the general population. Direct marketers often cite the 60-30-10 formula for determining a mailing’s success.

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Beware Publicity When Raising Big Gifts by David Lansdowne

Don't expect publicity to raise money. It doesn't, at least most of the time.

The reasons are simple. To raise substantial money you must ask people in person, regardless of any well-placed stories. Secondly, most campaigns depend on a relatively small number of major donors - about 10 percent of the prospects - whose decision to give won't be much influenced by the media.

In fact, since it can be effective to solicit top prospects before your campaign goes public - in effect treating these special few as insiders - publicity in the early stages can actually work against you.

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Debt Elimination Fundraising Campaigns by Tony Poderis

How can your organization raise the money it needs to pay off:

  • money borrowed from a lending institution?
  • unpaid invoices from vendors, suppliers, and contractors for the purchase of a capital asset?

Accentuate the Positive

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When Should a Non-Profit Organization Hire its First Development Director? Part 1 by Tony Poderis

The short answer is sooner rather than later! If a non-profit organization is beginning to ask whether it needs a professional development director, it probably should have hired one months, even years ago.

The biggest mistake non-profits make in hiring their first development director is waiting until the board, executive director, and other key personnel have arrived at a consensus that one is needed NOW. An organization that waits until it is necessary to hire a development director has waited too long.

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When Should a Non-Profit Organization Hire its First Development Director? Part 2 by Tony Poderis

So, how do you know from within an organization when and if you should hire a development director? The answer is simple, and it starts with knowing the costs of running the organization as it carries out its mission as set out in the its long-range strategic plan. It continues with the development of a fund-raising plan. mmit to their responsibility to see that the money is raised. Then an assessment of resources is needed to see if the tools are present or can be developed to carry out the plans.

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Solicitation Of Vendors by Tony Poderis

A non-profit organization's intention to solicit its vendors for cash contributions in support of its general operating campaign or a capital building or renovation project has a number of unique twists and turns which must be considered in detail before asking for the money. Soliciting a charitable gift based on a prospect's wish to support something of personal value and for what is good for her or his community is a purely philanthropic act, and it is a vastly different transaction from a non-profit expecting a donation based on a business deal because a company or firm sells products or services to the organization. This latter situation could cause people within a non-profit to want to exert pressure---sometimes unfair---on vendors to make contributions.

Along with the caveats cited in this article for greater sensitivity to the vendor solicitation issue, it should be kept in mind by those exerting such pressure, that the organization is, after all, getting something for its money from the vendor's products or services.

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Challenge/Matching Gift Programs For Your Fund-Raising Campaigns by Tony Poderis

Challenge grants are indeed challenging to fulfill, and once secured, they are unusually rewarding opportunities for non-profit organizations to greatly energize and enhance their fund-raising campaigns. They can significantly increase the chance to raise more money than would be possible otherwise. Challenge Grants may be utilized to jump-start a campaign, or as a mid-course correction to energize a flagging campaign. The best thing to know about Challenge Grants is that they almost always are a required key element of capital and endowment campaigns, but are equally effective and productive when they are employed in annual fund, sponsorship and underwriting campaigns.

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A Campaign Deferred Is A Campaign Defeated Part 1 by Tony Poderis

Disasters and crises can occur anywhere, at any time. Hopefully they won't have the impact of mega-disasters such as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks or of 2005's hurricane Katrina. However, even disasters of considerably less magnitude can impede the fund-raising efforts of non-profit organizations located in areas where they occur.

Flood, drought, storm, and other natural disasters are obvious candidates to impact an organization. Major accidents, industrial or otherwise, can hit hard too. On top of these gloomy possibilities there is always the crisis that could result from change. A key supporting industry moves away or closes. The local economy enters into a general malaise. Add to all those, the results of bad publicity hitting a non-profit organization or the impact of what happens when a well-known national charity is embroiled in scandal.

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A Campaign Deferred Is A Campaign Defeated Part 2 by Tony Poderis

When something terrible happens, invariably there are people who want to stop the campaign. "Put it on hold!" is their cry. "Wait until this passes by, then restart the campaign," they say. But they do not realize that an extended break in the habit of giving to them on the part of their donors could result in those donors shifting their support to other organizations. When you defer a campaign, have a hiatus in your fund-raising efforts, it can be awfully hard to turn the machine back on. Other non-profit organizations won't have waited. They'll have solicited your donors. Those donors will have the money earmarked for you available but it might not be there when you get around to asking for it. Taking a break in fund-raising can be the same as giving your donors away.

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To Consult, Or Not To Consult - That Is The Question by Tony Poderis

To consult, or not to consult - that is the question. Or at least it would be if Hamlet were to ask it. Hamlet's "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" make me think of fund-raising goals too great and resources to meet them too few. His "sea of troubles" sounds like an ocean of red ink.

In fact, think about a scarily challenging fund-raising campaign too long, and your mood is likely to mirror the melancholy Dane's. Just like him, you may begin to contemplate traveling into an "undiscover'd country."

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Non-Profit Fund-Raising Demystified by Tony Poderis

When it comes to fund-raising, there are truths and myths. The truths illuminate the path to success. The myths speak with the dark voice of "conventional wisdom" of what can't be done and won't work. Throughout my career I have had to overcome three myths of fund-raising that would have me give up before I start. My tools have been The Nine Basic Truths of Fund-Raising.

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Donor List Selling or Exchanging With Other Non-Profit Organizations by Tony Poderis

Many non-profit organizations exchange with other non-profits their mailing lists of people served, i.e. their clients, users, patrons, etc. They do this for marketing purposes, especially in the arts and culture world. And it could be said it is a good thing, in the spirit of cooperation and public service.

But all too often the exchange, or even the sale, of nonprofit organizations' donor listings is practiced. This is a much different method of mutual support, and it has its consequences. To many of us, such selling of our donors' names and addresses would, in essence, be a "selling out" of our donors. It's probably safe to say that most of them would take a rather dim view of this practice. And to seek the permission of the donors to allow their names to be widely and randomly distributed would be an exercise in futility.

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Should Your Organization Sell Products and Services to Raise Money? by Tony Poderis

I am made increasingly aware of the conflict non-profit organizations experience when faced with choosing between:

  1. Raising the money they need using a traditional philanthropic process.
  2. Making a profit from selling and endorsing commercial products and services.

The number and variety of selling opportunities presented to non-profit organizations, especially through the Internet, is growing rapidly. All too often, the advertisements for those products and services make outrageous and misleading promises of big and easy money to needy and vulnerable non-profits.

There is nothing wrong with selling a commercial product or service to help support a non-profit organization if:

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Know Your Organization by Tony Poderis

You start the process of becoming a fund-raiser for an organization when you first become involved with the organization. That's when you begin to acquire knowledge about an organization, and acquisition of knowledge is the first step in preparing to raise money. To sell any product, it is important to know just what the product is and what it does. It makes no difference whether you are a waitress explaining the intricacies of the specials of the day, a computer salesperson pitching the new improved model, or a solicitor in a fund-raising campaign.

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Memberships And Named Gift Opportunities by Tony Poderis

The Name Is The Game

In the nonprofit world, when it comes to "memberships," we seem to be of two minds. On the one hand are memberships that convey benefits in exchange for a fee, and on the other, those that recognize donors for gifts made.

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Corporate Matching of Employees' Gifts to Your Organization by Tony Poderis

A number of resources provide listings of companies having gift programs that match contributions made by their employees to non-profit organizations. According to the grantor's guidelines, such matching funds could be general in nature for support of almost any type of accredited non-profit favored by an employee, or a company might limit its matching funds, say, to education. Often, a company has a maximum limit to funds it donates in this way to a given nonprofit organization during a single year. Through your research from libraries and on the Internet, such commercially available lists and those harvested by nonprofit associations, such as CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education), can be reviewed for possible value to your organization.

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Development Director Job Interview Questionnaire by Tony Poderis

The interview form presented below is designed to elicit as much pertinent information as possible and as desired or required in the most advanced of interviews. However, for the vast majority of non-profit organizations, it is meant to be a guide to the conducting of a wide range of interview situations when seeking to hire a Director of Development. For each such hiring process, the questions selected by an interviewer for a non-profit organization should be relevant to the needs of that particular organization, and as the development professional's duties are expressed in the job description. And, most important, they must be realistically in accord with the interviewee's experience. The questionnaire is designed so that the interviewer asks questions which go beyond simple yes and no answers, thus allowing the job candidate to do a good deal of the talking.

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Fundraising Donor Surveys by Tony Poderis

If we're going to ask people for money, it sure helps if they think highly of both our organization and its mission.

  • Do they see our mission as vital and valid?

  • Are we perceived as being successful at carrying out that mission?

  • Has our organization earned and maintained trust and respect?

  • Have we been efficient stewards of donations and resources?

  • Has any controversy been associated with us?

  • Have questions about any of our leaders arisen?

  • Do people believe we are the right organization to address what we declare in our Mission Statement?

  • Do they know enough about us to have formed any deeply held opinions?

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Finance vs. Development? by Tony Poderis

The receiving and the handling of donations made to non-profit organizations are simple to do, but very often poorly done. When that happens, a vital block is taken out of the foundation we strive to build in an effort to ensure donor loyalty for future gifts. Lost or misplaced checks and other communications from donors, late and erroneous recording of gift/pledge dates and amounts, delayed and otherwise neglected acknowledgments, spelling errors of donors' names, etc., all lead to lost or upset donors.

We can all agree that this critically important process must be done right. And it starts with the very first check or pledge from a donor when it arrives in the mail room. But in many non-profit organizations, there is a sharply divided opinion regarding just where those checks, pledges, and other donor communications should go next in order to ensure that all goes right with the receiving, posting, acknowledging, reporting, and banking process of donations.

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How to Acknowledge and Recognize In Kind Gifts by Tony Poderis

When you receive gifts of products, time and services, be aware that your organization can be held in even greater regard by donors of such In-Kind gifts, should you express your gratitude in a meaningful way---in a manner far and above how these contributions are usually acknowledged by non-profit organizations. This can be accomplished in strict keeping with the applicable IRS rules and regulations, which are especially explicit when it comes to In-Kind gifts and how non-profits handle them.

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Pro Bono Services for Your Nonprofit Organization by Tony Poderis

The dictionary definition of pro bono fits well with non-profit organizations, which themselves are also for "the public good," according to the IRS description of how they must be created and operated. And the good, in the case of pro bono work, is what countless non-profit organizations have received from generous businesses and firms as contributions of legal work, accounting, printing, and much more---all of which help to reduce operating and special expenses the organizations would ordinarily need to pay, even to help make funds available for things they would like to do, but could not otherwise afford. The result is to help relieve the strain on the requirements of their annual fund and other fund-raising campaigns.

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Fundraising Campaign Mid-Course Corrections and Problem Solving by Tony Poderis

What can you do to cover a projected shortfall and get a campaign back on track?

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Planned Giving For The Younger Set by Lorri Greif

Nowadays, more and more nonprofits are offering planned giving as a part of their fundraising strategy. After all, it's another way to contribute to charity and it has become clear how important this form of giving is when it comes to securing a nonprofit's work for the future.

The solicitation for these future dollars is understandably focused on the more "senior" population. It goes without saying that the more seasoned contributor should be approached about planned giving, but it pays to keep in mind that another market may also exist for this type of gift; younger supporters should not be entirely overlooked. They too have potential for planned gifts, if properly apprised of the opportunities, and can become more closely aligned with an organization at a point in their lives where they are making long-term decisions and commitments. For example:

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Discovering the Secret Giver by Larry Stelter

In the spring of 2008, my company combined forces with the nationally renowned research firm Selzer & Co., Inc., to provide insight into those who name charities in their wills, when they do it and why.

Our discovery? The audience that most gift planning offices target today may represent only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, nonprofit organizations nationwide are missing out on untold millions in charitable donations by ignoring a largely untapped group of prospects.

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Major Gift Fundraising Program Lessons by Alan Sharpe

The main difference between direct mail fundraising and major gift fundraising is simple. Direct mail fundraising solicits small gifts from many people while major gift fundraising solicits large gifts from few people. One tactic solicits on paper, the other in person. Here are some tips to remember when you begin a major gift fundraising program.

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Asking Your Insiders to Give by Andrea Kihlstedt

Some time ago, I worked on a campaign for a public library. With some fits and starts, Renee, the campaign chair, and Mary, the library director, had successfully tied down most of the large gifts.

Now they were ready to solicit those who weren’t large donors but who were close to the library. These included staff members, volunteers, and a host of people who used the library almost daily.

But as Renee and Mary pored over the list of staff members, they grew increasingly anxious. The library’s public funding, like that of libraries throughout the state, had been cut and cut again; and staff members hadn’t received a raise for some time. Earlier that year, Mary even had to eliminate a position.

“Should we really ask staff members for money?” asked Renee. “I’m afraid they’ll throw eggs at me.”

Mary was uncomfortable, too. She knew some of the staff loved the place but others were so frustrated by the lack of resources and flat salaries that they were on the verge of leaving.

Mary and Renee had all but decided to forego asking staff to support … until Jerry intervened.

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