Planning for future is critical to making a difference

To the editor,

The National Committee on Planned Giving wishes to say “Bravo!” to Todd Cohen for tackling the often-overlooked subject of marketing planned gifts [Philanthropy Journal, 06.09.05].

Through innovative and targeted marketing plans, donors can be engaged in ways that are mutually beneficial to them as well as to the charity.

We would, however, disagree with the statement by a consultant that marketing bequests to people ages 55 to 65 is a “useless exercise,” since 40 percent to 60 percent of Americans have not written a will at all.

While this has traditionally been the line of thinking, our survey, “Planned Giving in the United States 2000,” paints a different picture.

For example, our research shows the average age when most donors make a will or living trust is 44, while the average age at first bequest is 49.

Many, but not all, bequest donors are older and more affluent. While the average age of bequest donors is 58, 43 percent of donors are under age 55.

We respectfully implore all planned-giving professionals to urge prospective donors to write a will, and to leave a bequest of any size to charity.

This is the central message of NCPG’s Leave a Legacy campaign, which urges people of all ages and income levels to write a will and “make a difference in the lives that follow.”

Some donors will only be enlightened about bequests if we, as professional gift planners, lay the foundation.

Tanya Howe Johnson, president and CEO, National Committee on Planned Giving.

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