Planned-giving software: Part 4

By Todd Cohen

Crescendo offers desktop software and now online software that uses narratives and graphics to illustrate and explain planned giving options to donors and professional advisers.

Crescendo Pro/Plus/Presents, the firm’s “top-of-the-line” desktop software, aims to answer for donors three key questions, including how a gift works, what its benefits are, and why a donor would want to make the gift, says Charles Schultz, president and CEO.

And while it uses simple charts and graphs to help nonprofits explain planned-giving scenarios to donors based on their preferences and information they provide, the software also is designed for professional advisers, says Schultz, a lawyer who worked in private practice and then as a gift planner for the Lutheran Foundation in St. Louis before starting the firm.

“Our intention is to essentially speak two quite different languages, he says. “You have to speak donors’ language. But you also have to have the professional language and materials for the certified public accountant and attorney.”

Crescendo Pro/Plus/Presents, which costs $1,490 plus a $795 annual service fee and combines the company’s separate Pro, Plus and Presents products that can be purchased separately, is designed to be “donor-friendly,” Schultz says.

It uses color graphics and email proposals, and simple explanations, he says, to help gift planners work one-on-one or in small groups with donors to illustrate and explain how specific planned gifts might work based on variables such as the donor’s age, size of the gift and schedule for payments to the donor.

The illustrations, for example, would show tax advantages for the donor, and the size and rate of payments.

For lawyers, CPAs and other professional advisers, the software includes spreadsheets, deduction worksheets, explanations of various gift techniques, and supporting gift-annuity and trust documents.

Gift-annuity documents and illustrations in the Pro/Plus/Presents software can be integrated with Crescendo’s Gift Annuity Administration software, which handles back-office administration for gift annuities, producing checks for annuitants, year-end 1099R forms filed with the IRS and various reports, and records checks and annuity balances.

Crescendo Pro, which can be sold separately from the larger software and has two smaller versions, Crescendo Lite and Crescendo Estate, also features illustrations for donors and supporting materials for CPAs and lawyers.

Crescendo Plus, which also can be sold separately and includes royalty-free literature, brochures, articles and ads, as well as PowerPoint presentations, is designed either for broad-based marketing to a nonprofit’s entire constituency, or to targeted small groups of donors through seminars, Schultz says, while Crescendo Presents features a sound-and-slide presentation that donors can view on a notebook computer.

Other products include GiftLaw Pro, an electronic tax-reference guide that clients can install on their computers, and GiftLegacy Pro, which combines the company’s desktop software with internet marketing software and includes electronic newsletters and literature, and webcasts and satellite teleconferences for donors and for CPAs and lawyers.

Other stories in the series:

Part 1: Firms gear calculation software for gift planning. 
Part 2: Consulting, tools available for nonprofits mulling planned giving. 
Part 3: Several firms dominate market for software calculators. 
Part 5: PG Calc software calculates, illustrates, manages data.
Part 6: Smaller vendors market calculators.

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