Marketing planned gifts: Part 6

By Todd Cohen

With 160,000 living alumni for whom it has addresses, Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., uses a combination of marketing strategies including print newsletters, a planned-giving website and donor events.

The school, which has a $3.3 billion endowment, publishes two planned-giving newsletters, each distributed twice a year to 20,000 top donors.

Financial Planner, the longer newsletter, which aims to trigger interest and a response from donors, focuses on individual giving strategies, such as gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts, says Chip Bryce, director of planned giving.

Vested Interest, the shorter newsletter, highlights a particular gift, such as $15 million from the chairman of the trustees’ investment committee to name the student union.

The school also publishes most of its planned-giving materials on a website that features a calculator and links to “fact sheets” on all standard planned-giving vehicles, and on common assets used for planned giving, including stock, bonds, real estate, retirement plans and private business interests.

Because it does not have alumni or a defined constituency but instead aims to strengthen a geographic region, the Chicago Community Trust markets planned giving mainly to advisers such as lawyers, accountants, financial planners, trust officers and life-insurance agents, says Jason Baxendale, director of gift planning.

“Community foundations receive the overwhelming majority of new gifts and new donors through relationships with professional advisers,” he says.

The Trust, which teams up with financial institutions that manage and invest funds of donors who advise it on making grants from their funds, works with a professional advisory committee that includes more than 30 top advisors in the Chicago area who meet three to four times a year and help the foundation “develop new opportunities to spread the trust’s message.”

Baxendale also spends a lot of time attending meetings of groups like local bar associations and having lunch with individual advisers, encouraging them to talk about the Trust with clients.

Jennifer Jobrack, associate vice president for marketing, says marketing to advisers must be “relationship-based and carried on over a long time horizon because of the inherent lack of predictability in any given client’s life cycle.”

Next: Charities use events to reach and engage donors, advisers. 

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 5: Online strategies integrate donor data, marketing. 

Part 7: Charities use events to reach and engage donors, advisers.

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