By Todd Cohen
The American Diabetes Association in Alexandria, Va., uses technology to integrate its donor data and to drive planned-giving marketing, says Vaneeda Bennett, chief development officer.
The national charity, which operates in more than 120 markets in five divisions throughout the United States and has a donor base of more than three million people, realized $26.5 million in bequests averaging $50,000 in the fiscal year ended last June 30, a total that has doubled in roughly eight years in response to greater investment in the program.
An individual-giving department with 10 gift officers that handles both planned gifts and current major gifts of at least $10,000 has developed a growing series of tactics to market planning giving through its own print and online publications and materials, and through promotions built into the broad range of contacts the association has with constituents.
Half-a-million people, for example, receive a quarterly planned-giving print newsletter that features donor profiles and explanations of strategies such as wills and charitable gift annuities.
The newsletter also includes a reply card people can mail to the association that lets them provide information about themselves and request more information about planned giving opportunities.
The association also inserts planned-giving “buck slips” in materials mailed from its e-store, in direct-mail acknowledgements of gifts, and in response to the roughly 3,000 monthly calls to its 1-800 phone line.
And because the planned-giving staff uses the same database as the direct-mail staff, the gift officers mine that database for prospect leads, marketing planned giving to a target audience based on age, for example, or targeting donors who have responded to direct-mail appeals.
In March 2003, the association also launched a planned-giving website that attracted more than 22,400 visitor sessions in the fiscal year that ended last June 30.
And in the fourth quarter of 2004, the association launched a quarterly planned-giving email newsletter that already has drawn more than 1,000 subscribers and aims to drive readers to its planned-giving website, which features a calculator and online forms donors can use to indicate their intent to make a planned gift.
Carrie Keller, associate director of individual giving, says her planned-giving model is to “use every blank space and opportunity to touch every level and reach every person.”
Whenever the association corresponds with volunteers about the work of volunteer leaders, for example, it mentions any involvement they may have with planned giving or major giving, Keller says.
Other stories in the series:
Part 1: Charities target donors in increasingly competitive market.
Part 2: Charities tailor planned-giving message, medium.
Part 3: Fundraisers segment planned-giving prospects.
Part 4: Charities mix multiple strategies to reach donors.
Part 6: Colleges, community foundations court planned-giving prospects.
Part 7: Charities use events to reach and engage donors, advisers.