Year-End Planning for Legacy Gifts Starts NOW!

It’s that time of year when the kids and grandkids are heading back to school and everyone’s getting organized.  Thinking about year-end giving, documentation and tax-preparation for the coming year are on many people’s “To Do” list.

For the planned giving officer, it’s time to kick into high gear with marketing and gift-instruction reminders to your constituents.  That’s why I’ve created this quick check-list to get you started:

  • Pull a list of all donors who have made a gift with stock, mutual funds or other non-cash assets in the past.  Send a personal letter to each of them that provides examples of how these special gifts move your mission forward.  In an easy-to-see box or paragraph, provide your legal name and tax identification number as well as full instructions for making a non-cash gift before year-end.   Be certain to include your name, email and phone number so that they can reach out if they have questions.
  • For each person who’s responded to a request for information on planned and estate gifts in the past 24 months, also send a personal letter providing your name, email and phone number.  Remind them that legacy gifts secure the future of the organization and direct them to your website pages if you have them.  This is a great opportunity to slip in an extra piece such as a copy of a letter or handwritten note from someone who has benefitted from a legacy gift that’s already been put to work at the organization.
  • Work with your web team to highlight your planned gift pages during the month of September or October.  Year-end giving will most likely already be the planned spotlight for the final two months of the year.
  • Pick up the phone and call five long-time loyal donors each day between now and Thanksgiving to say “Thank You” and to find out why the organization has been the special recipient of their long-term generosity. You can pull a list using several different criteria depending on your situation.
    1. If you’ve conducted a predictive giving analysis use your highest scores in combination with loyalty.  For a Target Analytics client you’d use a query such as: Planned Giving Likelihood Score >= 701 and Total Number of Gifts >= 20.  You could rank them by most recent gift date or choose your own scheme to do so.
    2. Alternatively, use First Gift Date < 1/1/2000 and Total Number of Gifts >= 20.  This provides a list of long-time loyal donors.
    3. Finally, you could pull a list using age or class year and loyalty as well.  Since the Baby Boomer generation is highly active in estate planning, be sure to focus on people 50 and older who have provided a series of gifts over the past 10 years.  If your list is long, add other criteria such as Largest Gift < $101.  Steady, consistent giving at the lower-end is a hallmark of the legacy giver.
  • Lastly, make your own legacy gift to the organization you work for or volunteer with before the year-end.  It’s my experience that making your own planned gift changes you, and talking about estate gift opportunities with others becomes a joyous and exhilarating conversation.

Securing planned gifts is a two-prong strategy.  You’ve got to market them, and you also have to build relationships with those who will ultimately make them.  Now is the time to get started.  Your success is just a few phone calls and letters away!