Marketing planned gifts: Part 3

By Todd Cohen

The Cleveland Orchestra, with a $125 million endowment, aims to tailor specific planned-giving strategies to reflect market trends and to reach donors it believes might find those strategies attractive.

“You look at what you’re marketing,” says Amy Wong, director of major and planned gifts. “You can’t be passive.”

The orchestra promotes planned giving on the radio and in a quarterly print newsletter distributed to 7,500 people because “you don’t know who you’re going to touch,” she says.

But it also customizes planned-giving messages and picks the medium to deliver them based on the segmentation of its donor base using factors such as age, wealth, life circumstances, giving history and relationship to the orchestra, she says.

“The shotgun approach just doesn’t work,” Wong says. “People at different stages of life do different types of planning.”

Because people tend to do more estate planning when their children are “out of the nest,” for example, planned-giving mailings might be more appropriate when family obligations change, such as when children graduate from college, she says.

While the orchestra distributes a variety of planned-giving marketing pieces, this year it will segment who gets them based on their individual characteristics.

A key and inexpensive tactic to identify prospects is to simply include a reply card in as many mailings as possible, asking prospects whether they want information on a particular planned-giving strategy, or have made or are considering making a provision in their estate plans for the orchestra, Wong says.

The orchestra also works with a donors subcommittee to help identify and visit prospects, a professional-advisers subcommittee to help the orchestra improve its approach to advisers, and a larger advisers club, hoping its 300 members will help market its planned-giving program to their clients.

Next: Charities mix multiple strategies to reach donors.

Other stories in the series:

Part 1: Charities target donors in increasingly competitive market. 
Part 2: Charities tailor planned-giving message, medium. 
Part 4: Charities mix multiple strategies to reach donors.
Part 5: Online strategies integrate donor data, marketing.

Part 6: Colleges, community foundations court planned-giving prospects.
Part 7: Charities use events to reach and engage donors, advisers.

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