Plugging your nonprofit into planned giving

By Kathy Agard

Every nonprofit should consider implementing a planned-giving program as one of the tools in the fundraising toolkit.

The type of planned gift, and the process for solicitation and management, depend upon the scale and sophistication of your organization.

Because planned-giving programs change the discussion of support from a request of a gift from current income to consideration of a gift from the donor’s assets, there is potential for larger gifts.

These gifts often come when the donor no longer needs the asset for personal use.

Each nonprofit, no matter how small, can implement a program to encourage a gift by bequest.

Donors who are long time friends of the organization arrange for a gift through their will or insurance policy, with the nonprofit as a beneficiary.  A bequest program can be as simple as writing a paragraph that is inserted in the organization newsletter from time to time, reminding friends to consider this type of gift.

More sophisticated programs might provide for an annual recognition of those who have let the organization know that they have included a gift in their will.

Large nonprofits are often sophisticated about implementing a full range of planned gifts. They have the staff skill and financial scale to assist donors in planning and to manage the process for charitable trust and annuity arrangements.

Smaller organizations can also access these financial planning strategies, without additional staff or financial risk, by tapping into the expertise of their local community foundation.

Establishing a fund restricted for the benefit of the specific nonprofit organization provides a vehicle for smaller nonprofits to assure planned giving donors that their charitable investment is secure and professionally managed.

This allows the smaller nonprofit to concentrate on introducing their friends to the planned-giving opportunity without requiring them to manage a fully developed program.

Whether your nonprofit is large, medium or small, a planned-giving program can be designed that is appropriate to the scale and expertise of your organization.

Providing access to these charitable financial planning options helps not only the organization in achieving its mission, but also supports donors with options to assist them in their desire to give back to the community in a substantial way.

Kathy Agard is Executive Director of Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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