Planned-giving software: Part 2

By Todd Cohen

Whether to invest in planned-giving software depends on the degree to which a nonprofit focuses on planned gifts, experts say.

“It really depends on the sophistication of the nonprofit,” says consultant James E. Connell of Connell and Associates in Pinehurst, N.C. “The key information that a charity needs is to completely understand the goals and objectives of the donor. The experienced planned-giving person will then develop a plan that meets those goals.”

Planned-giving software, he says, “provides the tool that fills in the plan, but you have to have a good strategy first. If you don’t know what the strategy is going to be, no software is going to help you.”

Nonprofits do not need planned-giving software if they are “interested but not active” in planned giving, or cannot identify 50 potential planned-giving prospects they can talk to in the next year, Connell says.

Nonprofits not yet ready to hire staff to handle planned giving can turn to consultants who have their own planned-giving software, he says, or can visit the web sites of charities that feature the calculation software sold by vendors like Crescendo Interactive or PG Calc.

Heather Gee, vice president for development services at the Philadelphia Foundation, says nonprofits considering planned giving also can visit the website of community foundations, many of which provide links to the Planned Giving Design Center, an online resource that includes a simple planned-giving calculator visitors can use for free.

Robin Ganzert, senior vice president and managing director of the Wachovia National Center for Planned Giving in Winston-Salem, N.C., says smaller nonprofits, or those just getting started with planned giving, also can turn to consultants who can run planned-giving calculations for their nonprofit clients until they are ready to buy their own software.

Other stories in the series:

Part 1: Firms gear calculation software for gift planning.  
Part 3: Several firms dominate market for software calculators.
Part 4: Crescendo Interactive offers desktop and online products. 
Part 5: PG Calc software calculates, illustrates, manages data.
Part 6: Smaller vendors market calculators.

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