Lisa M. Chmiola, CFRE & Dave Tinker, CFRE, FAFP recently joined us for a webinar in which they discussed ways to communicate with younger donors about legacy giving and provide ideas for implementation in your organization.

In case you missed it, you can watch the replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right. Well, good afternoon everyone if you are on the East Coast and good morning if you are on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for joining us for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Gift Planning for Gen X and Gen Y Donors.” And my name is Steven Shattuck and I am the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.

Just a couple of housekeeping items, a couple of technical items for you before we begin. I want to let everyone know that we are recording this presentation and I’ll be sharing the recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon, just in case you didn’t already get those. So if you have to leave early or perhaps you want to review the content or share it later on, have no fear, you’ll get all those goodies from me later on today.

And as you are listening today, please feel free to chat in your questions and comments throughout the next hour or so. We’re going to save some time at the end for Q&A, so don’t be shy, don’t sit on those hands. We’d love for this to be as interactive as possible, so send those questions along.

You can do the same on Twitter. If you are a Twitter-type person, you can use #Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating our feed there as well.

And if you have any technical difficulties, especially if you are listening through your computer speakers, the audio quality is usually a little bit better by phone. So if you don’t mind calling in by phone if you can do that, that’s usually a little bit better audio quality than listening through your computer, since that relies on internet connections and Wi-Fis and all that nerdy stuff.

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say a special welcome to you folks. We do do these webinars just about every Thursday, but in addition to that, Bloomerang is known for our donor management software. So if you want to learn more about us you can check out our website. You can even download a quick video demo and see the software in action.

But for now I am super excited to introduce these two beautiful humans. Lisa Chmiola and Dave Tinker are joining us for this awesome webinar on Gen X and Gen Y donors. How’s it going, friends?



Steven:Thanks for being here. I’ve been looking forward to this one a while, and you’ve got a lot of registrants for this, so it definitely touched a nerve. If you guys don’t know Lisa and Dave, you got to know them. I just want to brag on them real quick. If you’re plugged into the AFP community, you probably recognize these two names. But if not, Lisa is the Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving over at St. Agnes Academy. She’s also an adjunct instructor at Rice University’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. And just found out today that she is relocating to New Orleans, where she’s going to be taking a job at Tulane University. So congrats, Lisa, on that. That’s really awesome.

Lisa:Thank you.

Steven:She’s CFRE, she is an AFP Master Trainer. She’s presented tons of conferences. I see her name all the time on conference schedules, it seems like. She is the President of the Planned Giving Council in Houston and she’s also a sustaining member of the Junior League of Houston. Man, Houston’s really going to miss you, Lisa, it looks like, when you move to New Orleans. It’s a bummer for them, but . . .

Lisa:I know.

Steven:. . . I guess it’s New Orleans’s gain.

A little bit about Dave. Dave is joining us from beautiful Pittsburgh, Pa. He is the Vice President of Advancement over at ACHIEVA, and he is also an adjunct professor. He works at the informatics department at Muskingum University. He is also an AFP Master Trainer. He received the Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award from AFP Western Pennsylvania in 2013. And he is one of only six of the inaugural class of Distinguished Fellows of AFP. So if you were wondering, like I was, what that FAFP is, he’s one of only six people on the planet that has that designation from AFP.

So this is going to be a great presentation, obviously high-caliber speakers here, awesome people. So I don’t want to take any more time away from either of you, so why don’t you take it away, my friends?

Dave:Great. There we go. And I know if you’re on Twitter, feel free to mention us or ask questions. And these are our Twitter handles.

Dave Tinker, CFRE, FAFP @davethecfre
Lisa M. Chmiola, CFRE @houdatlisa

And the first thing that I wanted to go over with you is just what we’re going to cover in our webinar here today. We’re going to discuss generations and their different giving habits for each generation. Things to consider before beginning targeted outreach to Gen X and Gen Y, or Millennials, as they’re more commonly referred to. We’re going to discuss using social media to market planned giving. We’re going to discuss how to market planned giving specifically to Millennials and Gen Xers and why it’s important, as well as how to integrate these ideas into your work. All right.

Lisa:Let’s start out and talk a little bit about the different generations. And we’re going to start out actually talking about some of the generations that you probably traditionally think about when you think planned giving and who you’re marketing to. And so we’re going to go ahead and talk about them as well and then get into Generation X, Generation Y, and why you should be thinking of moving in that direction as well.

So if you haven’t had a chance to check out, there’s a great study, it’s “The Next Generation of American Giving,” that came out about four years ago that we reference here, and talks a little bit about, so the Matures. This is our greatest generation. These are the folks that were born 1945 and earlier, and so these are grandparents, great-grandparents to a lot of us that are listening today, or some of you may be represented that are listening today. This generation makes up 26% of all giving in the United States, so that’s 27.1 million U.S. donors.

And looking at their giving on an annual basis, they’re a very giving generation. Eighty-eight percent of the people that were surveyed for this study do give, and as you can see, their average gift size is pretty significant, almost $1,400. What’s interesting to note is this generation, with their gifts, supports about six charities. And as we look at the different generations, you’ll see how the types of charities the different generations support shifts.

So for this generation, some of their top priorities and their favorite causes are places of worship, local social service agencies, and then organizations that provide services to troops or veterans. So what’s interesting to think about is that they are touched by a lot of organizations that they have probably had some personal experience with. Think about this as a generation that they’ve probably served in a war or were drafted, and so this is who we’re thinking about here.

As far as planned giving goes, everyone always thinks that this is a prime generation for planned giving, but looking a couple years back at some research that The Stelter Company did, there’s actually quite a few people in this generation that would not consider a planned gift. In fact, as you can see there, two-thirds of the people surveyed would not consider a planned gift. And why? Because the majority of them, 94%, would prefer to leave their assets to family instead of a nonprofit.

So even though we’re going to concentrate majority of our time today on Generation X and Y, I think it’s important for us to consider that when talking with all generations, being ready to encounter that objection that if our prospects and donors are not as educated about gift planning and they think that we are coming to them and asking them to leave their assets to the nonprofit and cut their family out. I have actually had people think that with talking with them.

And you talk with them about making a planned gift and they’re like well, no, I would never do that, I have to leave things to my family. Well, we weren’t suggesting by any means to cut your family out. In fact, we are hoping that after you provided for your family, if you wanted to continue the good work that you’ve been doing with the charities during your lifetime, that this is simply something else for you to consider. But that’s just something to keep in mind as we’re working through all these generations, is being ready to encounter that objection.

Next we have the Baby Boomers. And so these are our folks, 1946 to 1964, and they actually represent the majority of the giving in America. Forty-three percent of all giving comes from the Baby Boomer generation. That’s 51 million U.S. donors. They are also a pretty giving generation, with 72% of those surveyed who give, and their average gift size is just a little bit smaller than the Matures, so a little more than $1,200.

And their top causes are actually very similar to the generation before them. They are also very interested in giving to places of worship, local social service agencies, but then their number three in their top choices was animal rescue and protection agencies. So lots of pet owners in this generation.

Looking at planned giving, again, this is another generation that is often considered a hot target for planned giving because by this age the kids are growing up, they’re moving out of the house, they’re having those milestone events go on in their life where they are reviewing their plans. So anytime someone has a milestone event in their life, whether birth of a child, child goes off to college, spouse passes away, those are often times that people review their estate plans. And those are often times that they may sit back and reflect if they were going to consider charitable organizations, putting them into their plans.

But again, the Stelter study found that there was still a high number, although not as high as the last generation, that would not consider a planned gift, and still almost just as high of a percentage that would prefer to leave assets to family instead of a nonprofit.

So again, it’s keeping that in mind and thinking about the conversation as a whole and not just being focused on one element.

Now we get into Generation X. So Dave and I are Generation Xers, so this slide speaks a lot to us. This is our experience here, growing up in these pictures on the slide. So you’re looking at, these are folks that were born 1965 to 1980. And in America, this represents 20% of total giving. So we are not quite there yet with the other organizations

[generations? 00:11:02] , but we are progressing. As you can see, the average gift size is over $700. So you’ll see when we compare that to the Millennials, there is definitely a progression going on.

Thirty-nine-point-five million donors in the United States fall in the Generation X bracket. So looking at this, you do have almost 60% of this generation are giving and support on average almost 4 charities. And the top priority causes again are very similar to the previous generation, places of worship and local social service agencies are still important to this generation. And just like the generation right before them, the animal rescue and protection groups have a high priority for them as well.

When you start moving over into the planned giving side of the equation, this is where it becomes apparent that the younger generations probably just have not been approached about a planned gift. And when you think about if you are already working with planned giving donors and you think about your donor base and who you’re talking with, probably the majority of the folks that you’re working with or marketing to might have fallen into the older two generations.

But what’s interesting is that you look at how many in this generation . . . and this, we bracketed it out, the study talks about specifically the 40s decade . . . so people in their 40s, how many would consider putting a planned gift vehicle in place? Well, it’s more than half. And looking at almost 84% have not been approached at all about a planned gift, so just beginning to have those conversations, it’s the whole adage of you don’t get if you don’t ask.

And the study went on to further say that if they were approached about it, then 23% of these folks would definitely or probably include a gift later, that they don’t have one in place now, but they would include one later. And they just haven’t thought of it. Forty percent said that that was the main reason why they have not included giving in their estate plan is they just didn’t think about it.

Another item of note is that that study found that within this generation, 57% of the participants had children. So again, you’re wanting to be sensitive to that whole family conversation and considerations. And a lot of times it’s when people have kids and when they have to think about the fact that if the worst happens and someone’s got to provide for my kids, who’s going to be the guardian of my kids, that’s when they’re starting to make those plans. So a lot of times that’s when people are thinking about making those first wills or thinking about their designations. And so it’s a prime time to have conversations about including your organization in their plans.

And then last but not least, we do have Generation Y, the Millennials. So these are our folks that are 1981 to 1995, so the ages are actually a little off because the study’s a few years old. So according to this, then, the youngest Millennials are old enough to drink now. So they are probably through college or almost through college or may be in grad school. This is definitely we’re thinking about our young professionals, first job, sitting down to make those beneficiary designations, and who are they going to put down. So this is why you need to be mindful of talking with your Generation Y prospects and donors.

So looking at the giving picture overall, Millennials represent 11% of total giving in the country, so that’s 32.8 million U.S. donors, just about on par with Generation X, 60% giving. Average gift size is smaller, almost $500. But again, you think about still in college or just graduating, moving on to grad school or professional school, first job, lots of expenses, still paying off student debt. That’s still a pretty sizable average gift size. And with that, they’re supporting 3.3 charities, but the causes that they prefer are very, very different. Their top three are children’s charities, organizations that focus on human rights or international development, and then organizations providing services to victims of crime or abuse.

So I like that. That’s a lot of avocado toast. I love it. Yes, that is a lot of avocado toast. I saw that article recently, too, where it talked about if we would all just stop eating the avocado toast, we might be able to save some money.


Lisa:Because the cost of avocados is raising like crazy. So but it’s interesting is that you looked at those first three generations and it was a lot of organizations, places of worship, local services, even the animals, that those generations and those donors probably have some really, really personal connection, maybe have benefitted from the services of that organization themselves. And you look at where the Millennials are putting the majority of their giving, and it’s very much an outward community focus. So it’s just interesting to look at the difference in the preferred charities. So not that the other charities are not supported at all by the Millennial and vice versa, but those were just the top three, where they put their funds.

Now looking at the planned giving perspective, again, much like Generation X, more than half would probably consider putting a giving vehicle in place. But again, there’s an education point and not realizing how all this works. So going back to the example of the person with their first job out of college and you’re sitting down with human resources and you are filling out the beneficiaries on your retirement plan and you’re probably putting down Mom and Dad because who else are you going to put down if you’re not married and you don’t have kids? Or if you are married and don’t have kids and you’re putting down your spouse, but then who would you maybe put as a secondary?

And with this generation, 63% not realizing that retirement funds, that they are taxable if they are left to an individual, but if they pass to a nonprofit, obviously the nonprofit is not going to pay tax on that beneficiary. So looking at different vehicles and deciding what is smart to leave to family and what is smart to leave to charities, there’s a lot of room for conversation with this generation.

Dave:All right. So before we get into some more, we wanted to make sure to answer a couple quick questions here that we know that you should consider when working to market towards Gen X and Millennials. First, of course, is are you capable of accepting planned gifts? Is your department set up to receive, acknowledge, and steward planned gifts correctly? Can you manage things such as charitable gift annuities? And if you can’t, do you have a relationship with a community foundation or potentially a bank or a financial institution that could help you with that?

Do you have a gift acceptance policy in place specific to planned giving? As you likely know, gift acceptance policies can help guide you when asked for specific or unusual potential donations. But at the same time, it can actually guide you in what types of things you can market. Because your gift acceptance policy may be that you cannot accept real estate or you can accept. You can only do certain things with depreciated stock or other related things that your board may have included in it, or your organization has. But having a gift acceptance policy will definitely help you know how to navigate some of the issues that pop up, unfortunately, related to planned giving. But it’s a good tool to have in place.

Now, are your planned giving materials mobile friendly is another thing to ask yourself. When was the last time that you or somebody in your organization looked at your own planned giving materials from a mobile device, whether that’s your planned giving website or the forms, the documents you have related to planned giving that you have online? More and more people are going online to research charities and research information.

And you need to be able to make sure that people are able to see it on the devices that they’re using. And more often than not, people are using mobile devices now. So whether that is a cell phone or a tablet or an iPad or something similar, is that workable? Are you able to do it? And when was the last time you did it? You should probably do it every so often anyway. And hopefully after this webinar, everybody will do that first thing. But yeah, go online and see, are your materials mobile friendly?

As well as there’s planned giving marketing. Do you work with one of the companies that does so many great things with planned giving marketing materials, both print and online materials? You don’t have to recreate the wheel when it comes to planned giving marketing. And have you set up a relationship where you can buy these materials or use them? They’re often very easy, that you can take and put your branding on it. And those are things that you need to consider as you’re moving forward with planned giving.

Lisa:Right. And actually, just, Dave, kind of to add to that . . .

Dave:Yes, please.

Lisa:. . . so let me hop back for a minute. No, I was just going to say, and I think in general, too, what you want to think about with planned giving overall and not just looking at only Generations X and Y, but if your organization is truly ready for that. And a couple of factors that you want to take into mind is you want to make sure that you have an active donor base that has been giving loyally, consistently, on an annual basis, and that you have begun to move into major gift work, and that because all of that will set the ground work.

And then a lot of the things that Dave talked about on here is being able to do your marketing and testing things to be mobile friendly. You really do have to think about who in your organization is going to be in charge of the planned giving program. A great example is, so where I am, we’re a girls’ Catholic high school, and my staff position is the first one that had 100% responsibility for that. Typically before that, it would fall to the head of the department. In smaller organizations, that will often be the case. In larger organizations, more like universities and hospitals, you may have an entire planned giving staff. And then you’re figuring out how that radiates out, working with different gift officers. So figuring out how that’s going to work and who’s going to be the point of communication and who’s going to be answering the questions that come in.

And, as Dave said, as far as with the gift acceptance policy, realizing that the majority of estate gifts that come in are from bequests. Then the next greatest after that are retirement and insurance gifts. And you don’t have to know or necessarily even accept everything. We do not accept annuities at our school simply because we don’t want to go through all of the work it would take to get licensed with the insurance department in the state and everything that needs to be done, and that’s okay. And that’s why you have things like the gift acceptance policy to protect you.

So looking at all of that and taking all that into consideration, too, can only help you be even more prepared when you begin to have these conversations and need to know where to go to get some of the answers.

Dave:And one last thing, too, I wanted to add, too. What part of the marketing is your planned giving marketing part of? Is it your overall agency marketing? Is it included in just the fundraising marketing you’re doing? Make sure that you know where that’s going to be.

But why social media for planned giving marketing? First, it helps you stay top of mind. Americans spend 50 minutes on Facebook per day, and that doesn’t mean they’re spending it on your website. They’re actually spending it on Facebook, because people go to Facebook for their news now. It’s the largest repository of photos online, it’s the second-largest repository of videos. They have games, you can see what people are doing as friends from across the globe. So people go to Facebook more often than any other website that you’re going to be targeting, and so you need to make sure that you’re talking about planned giving on your Facebook page and on Facebook in general. And you can drive people back to your planned giving pages on your own website, but you need to make sure you’re talking about it on Facebook.

Do you have stories to share that will resonate with your prospects and your donors? These can be texts, stories that you’ve done that are canned, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be text. You can do lots of photos and videos. So I just mentioned Facebook is the largest repository of photos and second-largest repository of videos. Things that resonate with your donors, it’s how your donors want to read it. And many donors don’t want to read a long, lengthy story. They would rather see a brief video and they would rather see some pictures.

And social media is great for that, whether you’re using Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, that allow you to do short videos. You can even live stream on Facebook now as well as Twitter. Often videos are able to help you increase your fundraising results when it comes to crowdfunding, and that’s also true with planned giving. In the videos you can explain just basics about planned giving, simple things that you need to educate, especially Gen X and Millennials, about how easy it is to include your organization in a will, and it just can be a three-minute or less video. Or it can share stories about some of the people or some of the things that are benefitting from a planned gift. But it needs to be about the donor and not about the organization when you’re using videos.

The most-viewed videos online are typically three minutes or less, and that’s for several reasons. First, people are viewing them on mobile devices, are using mobile devices to view videos. And so if they’re not connected to Wi-Fi, if they’re using a cell signal, you need to make sure that . . . a longer video is not going to be as easy to do because it’s going to buffer while it’s loading, and you don’t want that. There’s data issues, obviously, as well. If you’re not on Wi-Fi you don’t want to eat up all your data watching a three-minute video. And more importantly, younger donors and professionals have a shorter attention span, and so you want to keep things brief. And people are allotting less time to do tasks.

And so again, you want to keep it brief so that it can fit right in, it’s easy, something they can do while they’re sitting on the bus on the way to work or just watching it during a commercial break, watching TV, or whatever it may be. But videos, those can be very, very helpful for you in planned giving, and they don’t have to be fancy videos, either. You can use your cell phone. Younger donors don’t necessarily want high production-quality videos. And now some of the older donors that you have may expect that and want that. But younger donors, they understand that you can use your cell phone to do the video and there are all the tools potentially on your cell phone as well, that you can utilize. But it doesn’t have to very expensive and it can be very easy for you to do.

And last, but what most nonprofits are not using social media for planned giving marketing. And because of that, that’s an area where you can stand out. It is important to utilize social media as one of the many different tools that you have to market planned giving.

Lisa:Right. And I was just going to add to that. I think that . . .


Lisa:. . . when you look at social media . . . here, I’ll click back.

Dave:Oops, sorry.

Lisa:Look at this . . . that’s okay, I got it. When you look at social media marketing and everything that you talked about with the videos and the storytelling, it helps you get over what one of the common objections can be to talking about planned giving, is it’s the whole fact that you have to realize that you’re not going to live to be 500 years old. So if you’re not familiar with Dr. Russell James, he’s at Texas Tech University, and he does a lot of research in the psychology of planned giving, and addressing the fact that people often don’t want to think about their estate plan at all, let alone a charitable estate plan, because they have to accept the fact that they’re going to die someday.

Instead, focusing on the positive of that, of how you can continue the great charitable work that you have done in your life, beyond your life, making sure that you have a plan in place. So that way, when you are not here to speak for what you want to have happen with your funds, that it will happen. And the crux of a lot of his research talks about the storytelling, and telling the story from the perspective of someone who is still with us, and all of the great things that their gift is going to accomplish someday, or also even focusing on the beneficiaries within your organization. So if you’re a school, it’s the kids who get scholarships that are funded by someone’s gift, and so on and so forth.

So trying to take what a lot of people perceive as a negative and maybe shy away, both the donors and, on our side as professionals, shying away from planned giving because ooh, we have to talk about people dying, and that’s never a positive thing. But taking that and turning it into a positive and a celebration, just social media makes that so much easier to do because everything could be much more positive and uplifting.

So why focus on Millennials? Because Millennials are going to be the next big generation. So you can see here that we are about 20 years away from the point when the Millennials will outnumber the current number of Baby Boomers. And to keep in mind that what is expected in the next two to three decades, an estimated $30 to $40 trillion worth of assets will be handed down from the Matures and the Baby Boomer generations to Generations X and Y. So when you think about that fact that more people in the United States are drafting their first wills in their 40s, they’re not waiting until later in life, why wouldn’t you want to start planting seeds? And why not plant seeds even younger, in the Millennial generation?

So you can see here, represented in the math of where we are, with how many million Millennials will be age 56 or older 20 years from now. And if you look at the fact that in this country we have about a 7% planned giving rate, people including charitable gifts in their estate, so looking at the fact that what that could produce is six million legacies that when they would be realized, let’s say even they are just realized at the average gift in an estate of $40,000, you’re looking at a $230 billion impact. And just imagine what that can do for philanthropy in this country.

So it is very much a long game and it is absolutely a long game if you are talking with Millennials because you are out there encouraging them to make gifts to your organization that are not going to be realized for 30, 40, 50, 60 years. So it’s making sure that you are really focusing on building those relationships and helping keep them connected to your organization. And that’s where the peer influence and the social media influence come in.

The Millennials of today, when they get to that Baby Boomer age, they’re going to remember who’s been talking to them now. They’re going to remember, and when they’re thinking about maybe their kids are graduating school and going off to college and they’re going to edit their plan, how are they going to look at your organization. And then, as we already discussed, look at getting engaged with the Millennials while they are young and single and don’t have kids. Because oftentimes once you are included in someone’s charitable plans, it’s very rare that someone goes to the trouble to take you out, unless maybe they feel like they were treated badly by your organization or maybe that they feel like they were ignored.

It has happened. I know, I’ve been there myself personally, when you think about how have I been stewarded and which organization has worked harder to show me the benefits of what my future gift will do, and maybe I’m going to redo my percents. But most of the time, people aren’t going to say well, you’re just absolutely out. So thinking about getting included in those plans when they are younger and you may be a larger percent, sure, your percent might decrease while they’re raising kids, but then the kids will go off to college and maybe then the percent will increase back. So making sure that you are looking at that long-term relationship is very important when dealing with Millennials in the realm of planned giving.

Dave:And so Gen Xers and planned giving, the in-betweeners. That’s us. We’re in between the Boomers and the Millennials. Millennials are actually, there’s more Millennials in the workforce now than there are Boomers. But there are 66 million Gen Xers. And one of the things many people do, or not realizing that they do, is they can often leapfrog the Gen Xers because it’s a smaller generation than the Millennials and the Boomers. Nonprofits in general aren’t paying enough attention to us Gen Xers. Gen Xers are more tech-savvy and comfortable with data than any generation before. We created the tools that everybody uses today online, and so it’s important that you know that you can talk tech and share data using technology, with Gen Xers.

And Dr. James, who Lisa mentioned earlier, in one of his studies said 10% of donors age 50-plus included nonprofits in their estates. And the number one reason why people don’t put charities in their wills is they don’t know they could or how easy it is. Education is very important and it is needed to be able to demonstrate how easy it is to include something simple as adding a charity as a beneficiary of an insurance policy or just an extra line in a will is all it would take, and those are the types of things that you can share with the younger generations.

One of the things, when talking and working with Gen Xers, is ask about their parents. Gen Xers are now caring for their kids as well as many are starting to care for their parents. I myself, I have children, and I’m certainly caring for them, but I’m also cognizant of my parents’ health and my in-laws’ health. As they age, I want to make sure that they’re okay and safe in place, just like I am with my kids. And so those are things that I think about often. And as a Gen Xer, those are things you should be asking the Gen Xers about.

And some of the concerns that can help, actually, when you talk to Gen Xers about planned giving opportunities, maybe you can mention some of the planned giving vehicles that they can use that might be able to create income for their parents, actually. Instead of coming back to them, it could go to their parents and alleviate some income issues, as well as pitching potentially some income-producing vehicles, since they’re worried about not having enough for retirement. This is a generation that doesn’t believe will have Social Security when we come to retire. The traditional pension plans are more scarce now than hen’s teeth in the workplace. So it’s primarily our own savings and 401(k)s that Gen Xers are worried about and are considering relying on for their retirement. And one of the things is, again, talking about income generation for them.

But Gen Xers also trust their friends. They ask peers for reviews. It’s why it’s important to have recommendation engines like review sites like GreatNonprofits. Gen Xers go online to look for other reviews and ask their friends on social media about things. So like Yelp and Angie’s List and those sorts of things do well with this generation because of that. So keep that in mind. And bring a peer to the ask. If you already have somebody that’s a Gen Xer or a Millennial or one of their friends who has already included your organization in a planned gift, have them meet with their friends along with your development officer because that will help them.

Many Gen Xers want to figure out the nonprofit before they give. They want to understand the impact that the gifts have. And one way to do that is offer volunteer experiences. And it’s not just volunteer experiences for the Gen Xer, the individual donor, but offer it for their entire family. Have it so that they can volunteer with their kids. I know I enjoy volunteering with my kids because I can show them how volunteering’s such a good thing for the community, but you get to learn a little bit more about the organization and the impact that the organization has on the different parts of the community. You can also set it up so that it’s volunteer experiences with their peers or friends as well.

And typically, Gen Xers are skeptical about bigger institutions. While their parents and the Matures have given traditionally to larger organizations and many more, on average, over six nonprofits that they give to, they want to give less. And they typically give less. And they want to know that their donation is having an impact. So while they might give to fewer organizations, the number of organizations they give to might get a larger gift out of it because of that. And they want to see how it’s being served. So this is where everybody’s been talking about donor-centric materials and marketing, and that’s definitely something the Gen Xers and Millennials buy into, especially Gen Xers.

One of the things with Gen Xers is that when you’re talking to them about planned giving, you can tune into supporting their financial needs that they have. The Great Recession that we had . . . it’s been almost 10 years now . . . wiped out about half of the wealth of Gen Xers, and just now are we getting back to the period where we’ve rebuilt that wealth and we’re looking forward. Many make their first planned giving bequest intentions in their 40s and 50s, and while only 36% of Gen Xers have a will, the ones that do, do often, because they identify who’s going to be taking care of their kids and loved ones first, and that’s the first thing they consider. They don’t realize that they can include charities and charitable gifts in their wills.

And when they’re in their 40s and 50s, that’s when people typically start thinking about their legacies, especially if they’re reaching 50 and older. So the Gen Xers are just starting to creep into the 50 age bracket, and so now we’re starting to think about our legacy. Our kids are older, and so we’re thinking about what’s going to happen in the future. It’s still less than half, but it’s still an important segment.

Now here’s an example. The earlier you’re in somebody’s will, the larger your share is, what Lisa talked about. And they’re pickier about the number of nonprofits they support. But I wanted to share with you an example of myself as a Gen Xer, about how, the intentions with bequests and thinking of it in their 40s. I’ve included my alma mater in my will, but my college has never asked me about it. And it’s a small college, and my grandfather actually created a named scholarship fund with a gift. And as an undergrad, I was a student worker in the development office for a couple of years, and I’ve taught grad school there. And so I’m a known person to them and they know about me.

But in fact, only once in the 20-plus years since I graduated has anyone from the development office contacted me to meet about a gift, and that was only about an annual fund gift. And that was five years ago, because it would have been the 20th anniversary gift for my class. And that’s the only time I’ve been actually asked about making a gift.

Don’t do what my college did. Make sure that you go out and share information about planned giving and estates and go out and actively pursue Gen Xers, because they’re interested in doing it. Some of them just don’t know how to do it yet. And you’re going to need to steward that gift through the life. Often means that the person that comes after you or the person comes after that development person might still be doing the work and steering in that gift, that they’re younger generation. But you need to steward that gift so that it continues to remain in their will.

And again, we talked about the number of nonprofits they support. It’s fewer, but again, they like to give bigger gifts and they don’t just spread it around like their parents have done.

Lisa:So to add to what Dave said, you really do have to focus on the relationship. And much like any other kind of fundraising work that you will on social media, you can’t expect to get on social media, and immediately that presence is going to turn into funds. So you also can’t expect that the minute you start marketing planned giving on social media that all of a sudden you’re going to rein in all of these bequests intentions and beneficiary designations. And it all goes back to, like he said, it’s like developing that relationship.

We had a panel of young philanthropists, so Generation X, Generation Y, for the Planned Giving Council earlier this year. And someone in the audience had asked, and again, kind of very similar to Dave’s example, it was kind of from a university perspective, of how are your schools soliciting you. And most of them, and these are people in our community that are considered pretty significant philanthropists, so they have the capacity, but most of them are simply solicited by mail and they get the mailings for just the general annual fund or we’ve built a new football stadium and buy season tickets. And so looking at how can you really focus on the younger donors and begin to develop those relationships to where they don’t just feel like a number when it comes to your organization.

And so much like any other planned giving prospecting with other generations, you want to look at who is engaged in Generation Y. Who’s serving on maybe a young professionals or young alumni board in your organization? Or just serving on a committee in general, even if it’s not targeted towards younger donors. Maybe there’s someone who is on a committee and is just really engaged and loves your cause. Well, why wouldn’t you sit down and get to know them better and start to have conversations, and as we’ve said already, start to educate them on here are all the various ways that you can give to the organization? Because much like Generation X, Generation Y also wants to get involved and engaged first and interact with your organization on a regular basis and really see what is behind your mission before they start giving with their pocketbooks, and then also being able to understand how they can give with their estate.

But your social media can also be a source. If you have some people who are very active in your social media or if you are that proactive with social media in your organization that perhaps you have developed a committee of social media ambassadors, just like what Dave and I do for AFP International with the AFPeeps. A lot of organizations are taking that model and coming up with an ambassador group, where people are sharing content and they’re acting with an organization on social media and helping to engage their friends and their network because then that will bring additional prospects in.

So looking at all of that, those are some great sources. And I think in addition to looking at who’s making annual gifts, even if they’re making small gifts of $25 a year and they’ve made that gift for 5 years, you sit down and have a cup of coffee with them and see why they have been so engaged in your organization, particularly at a younger age. And I think another source, thinking about who is giving on a regular basis, is look at . . . if you are doing recurring giving . . . look at who your recurring giving donors are, because those could also be some great prospects for planned giving.

So you have to think about the fact that most of the people are not thinking about a planned gift simply because they didn’t know about it. So how can you get in front of them, learn their story about your organization and why they’re so engaged, and then you get to share the story of how they can continue that great work with your organization?

So when it comes to reaching out and coming up with a plan on social media, you can take one of two approaches. So you could start out with building the relationship now for a gift later. Like we had said, it’s not going to happen overnight, but making sure that you are using some demographic-specific platforms. So Dave talked quite a bit earlier about video, and I think if you’re not using Facebook Live with your organization and you have an opportunity to do that, I think that that would be a phenomenal way to start building the relationship and getting your participants engaged in the story.

So like last week at our school we had a groundbreaking on a new facility we’ve been raising funds for. So we went ahead and did a Facebook Live of the actual turning of the earth, and people got really excited about that. If they weren’t able to come, they were able to see it, and they felt like they were part of it. And so then that will give us an opportunity to go back as construction goes on and do additional live shoots later.

But also being mindful of Instagram, and if you’re doing video on Instagram, remember that has to be shorter because those are only a minute long. And Snapchat, Snapchat is huge if you’re trying to reach out to Millennials. And then even when we get into Generation Z, which are the younger, our college and high school and middle school students, that someday we’ll be talking about how do we reach Generation Z. But according to, 71% of Snapchatters are under the age of 34. So if your organization has not explored Snapchat, that would be something great for you to look into as well. You want to make sure that when you’re marketing on social media, that you are giving the story of how your organization accomplishes its work, making sure that you’re showing the impact and being as visual as possible.

Then the other approach to keep in mind is once you have started to establish a following and a base and that relationship on social media, is to start talking about the specific vehicles where Millennials might be interested in supporting your organization through their estate plan. So that’s things like a designation on a bank account. You have payable on death. When you go and open a checking account at the bank and you’ve got to put somebody down, it’s a small way but it’s a way that they can include you in their estate plan.

Also looking at the retirement asset beneficiaries that we talked about, and life insurance policies as well, whether they are through their employer or whether they are through their own personal source. You do have to check that state by state, however. So a great example is that here in the state of Texas, you cannot take your employer’s policy and then put your employer as a beneficiary of it, because that’s seen as self-serving. So it would have to be, if somebody here at our school wanted to include the school as a beneficiary of life insurance, it would have to be on a private policy outside the school, not the one that the school pays for.

So being sure to just talk with advisors. Finding a network of financial and insurance agency and other advisors. If you have a Planned Giving Council or a chapter of the Association of Charitable Gift Planners in your part of the country, then that’s a great resource. The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners is also a good resource for that type of information. Again, you don’t have to know all the details, but just know to where to go and get the information.

So when you’re starting to reach out and marketing these specific mechanisms, start out with those really engaged young volunteers. Talk with them. And that’s actually how we ended up marketing, is we had someone who was on our young alumni board and she simply, again, this we said before, did not know that including the school as a beneficiary on a retirement plan was even a possibility. And so then once she had done that, she allowed us to use her on our website and in some advertising in our magazine that she had done this and how easy it was.

If we’re looking at more of that video approach, maybe it’s having that person do a take-over, a day in the life of the organization, and I’ve designated XYZ charity in my estate. And it’s good to know that someday when I’m no longer here, that this kind of work is going to be able to continue because of the gifts that I’ve left them. Maybe having them do a guest blog post or different graphics or pictures or . . . there’s lots of different ways to do that.

And I saw there’s a question about what is a “take-over.” So a take-over would mean you would allow a volunteer or donor to take over your social media channel for the day. It’s really popular in higher ed, in universities, working with student groups and allowing them to take over. And you kind of get a day in the life from the perspective of a student. So you could do that within your organization as well. You could have an engaged volunteer do some sort of tour of your organization and show what a day in the life looks like.

Dave:A good example of one that is with an arts group is here in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. If you go onto Instagram, it’s Pittsburgh CLO. They actually allow the actors or actresses that come in for the various performances, they’ll actually take pictures all day long of the things they’re doing. So you get to see all the behind-the-scenes stuff in addition to them going out and working with kids in schools, because sometimes they go out and visit. And it’s actually a great opportunity to demonstrate the impact of the work that they’re doing. So it kind of actually allows you to give some insight or background, if you will, and donors always like to feel like they’re an insider.

Lisa:Well, again, here is our contact information. I know that we have quite a few questions that have come in, and as Steven said, we’re going to get to as many of them as we can. But please don’t feel that you can’t reach out us at any time, whether it’s by email . . .


Lisa:. . . or on our social media handles.

Steven:Cool. Well, thanks, David and Lisa, that was really awesome. And we do have lots of time for questions, almost 10 minutes. So if you haven’t asked a question, please send it in. Now is your chance. This is great. I’m just sitting here, kind of awestruck by the fact that I have never been asked to do any of this. And that seems kind of weird. My university, I’m a monthly donor to several nonprofits in India and around the country. I am moderately successful, I suppose. I’m not some big shot by any means, but it’s just weird. I would definitely consider it and probably would do it for a couple of the organizations I’m thinking of. So why do you guys think this is, that more people don’t just reach out and ask these things? Is it a data issue, is it a lack of awareness? What do you think’s the problem?

Dave:Some of it is, I think that everybody, when you think of a planned giving donor prospect, you think of a little old lady who has no kids, that’s retired. And obviously Gen Xers and Millennials are not in that demographic.


Dave:Neither are most people, actually. And I think one of the questions was asking what are some of the traits that you might see in the potential donors or prospects, people that might be good for planned giving. And actually, it’s somebody who gives regularly, and it’s not necessarily a large gift. But it’s somebody that gives on a regular basis, whether that’s part of a monthly giving program or just giving once annually. And it allows them to demonstrate that they’re invested in your organization because they do give every year. And maybe that’s all they can give at that time, but a planned gift can, there’s a way for them to give a larger gift at the end.

Steven:That makes total sense, and especially looking at the monthly donors. Because like you said, they have exhibited sort of a long-term commitment already, so why not just extend that? Here’s a question from Kathy . . .

Lisa:Well, I think . . .

Steven:Oh, go ahead, Lisa.

Lisa:No, I was just going to say, I think the other half of the equation, Steven, is we aren’t talking about it as professionals. Everyone who is on this webinar today is obviously very interested in it, and that’s great, because I don’t think there’s a lot of people talking about this in our industry. Because you come in and you think about planned giving and everyone always says oh, that’s for people 40 and over. Oh, blah, blah, and . . .


Lisa:. . . frankly, in our day-to-day struggle in our organizations, we’re fighting a lot of times to keep the lights on and the doors open. And the day to day is always front and center. And the long game . . . because that’s what planned giving is, is it’s a long game . . . as we already said before, we’re probably not going to be the professionals that are at our organization when these notifications that we secure come in. That often gets pushed to the oh, well, I’ll do that later. So it’s us having to be mindful as professionals to start having these conversations and making it more front of mind with all generations, really, but especially the younger. Because like you said, you’re a perfect example, you would totally consider it if somebody asked you about it.

Steven:But nobody has. Yeah. And I just recently put my first will together, so it seems like, looking at the engagement and the recency of giving, all you mentioned, but maybe also looking at those sort or life situations of someone . . . It seems like a recent child being born would be a really good signal, because that’s what prompted my wife and I to do our first will.


Steven:So that may be a pretty interesting signal as well.

We need to do it ourselves.


Steven:Absolutely. What about student loan debt? So I think that’s a big thing among these two generations, and maybe especially Millennials. Kathy here is wondering how does that come into play. Should you wait until a student loan is all paid off? Specifically maybe like a higher ed institution. Because it seems like maybe your college swooping in and asking for a planned gift while you’re still paying off that 25 grand from their bachelor’s degree . . . or maybe not. I don’t know. What do you think there?

Lisa:Well, it’s a gift that doesn’t have to be paid today.

Steven:Yeah, good point, yeah, that’s right.

Lisa:Because there is the concept of that, right? And that’s really what makes planned giving attractive to donors of all ages is particularly if you are financially challenged at the time, you have some other commitments that you’re working on, this is not a gift that you have to make today. This is a gift that gets set up in the future. It’s a gift that gets set up if there are funds left available for that. I know, talking about Generation X and being concerned we don’t have money for retirement, working with donors in some of the older generations who are concerned that they’re going to outlive their money, that’s where a bequest comes in and that’s the easiest because if there is anything left, I want X amount or X% to go to this organization. Well, if there’s nothing left by the time the estate’s settled, there’s nothing left. So . . .


Lisa:. . . that eliminates that fear. So I could see that paralleling over to the student loan situation as well, this is not something . . . We would love and hope for you to encourage maybe even a, just a very small annual gift to the organization now, even give up a cup of coffee a month or something along those lines, but . . .

Steven:Or avocado toast once a month.

Lisa:. . . this is a way that you think it . . . and avocado toast, there you go. Exactly, exactly. That, with giving up an avocado toast, you might be able to make a recurring gift to three organizations.

Steven:Probably. Depending on how much feta cheese you get on it or whatever.

Lisa:That’s right.

Steven:A great question in here. Small shop . . . a lot of the listeners today, the Bloomerang tribe seems to be small organizations . . . there’s a one-woman shop here specifically. How would you recommend she get started if you’re doing all the other things, there’s tons of things to do, what can a small shop who’s never broached this topic do to get started today?

Dave:Sure. I think for me . . . I’ve been in a one-person shop, I’m in a three-person shop right now . . . but being in a one-person shop, I realize you’re wearing all the hats, not just many hats, all of them. Focus on the simple fact that people can include you in their will. Because that’s the most common planned gift and it’s the majority of planned gifts. And it’s very easy to do, it’s just reminding people

, here’s a sentence or two, all you need to add into your will, that says hey, this is all you need to do. Please, I’d bequeath X percentage or X amount of dollars to the XYZ charity at such-and-such address. And that’s all it really takes. But make sure people know it, and you have to repeat the message over and over.

Lisa:And I would add to that . . . because we’re also a fairly small shop, we’re a total team of seven, but like I said, I’m the only one here that focuses on planned giving and it’s only half my job . . . I would take stock of who, if you already have an active planned giving program in your organization, if you already have a legacy society of recognition, I would look at who is already in that society and make sure you’re stewarding them and get to know them and learn their motivation for why they included your organization in their estate. Because the information you learn from them, not only is that going to help solidify the relationships there so that you make sure that you’re losing what you already have, but also will help you gain insights as to why other people may want to give or be motivated to give in that way to your organization.

Steven:Makes sense. Well, I could talk about this for hours, but we’re right up against 2:00. We burned through all that Q&A time pretty quickly, but I know there’s a lot of unanswered questions. And Dave and Lisa, are you still willing to take questions by email and Twitter?



Steven:I thought you would say yes. You’re such nice people. This was great. This is very eye-opening for me, at least from the donor perspective, for sure. So thanks to both of you for hanging out with us for an hour or so today, it was fun.

Dave:You’re welcome. Thank you.

Lisa:Absolutely. It was great.

Steven:And thanks to all of you for taking an hour out of your day as well. Look for the recording from me. Coming up in about an hour, or so you’ll get that. There’s lot of free resources on the Bloomerang website as well.

And we’ve got a great webinar coming up. One week from today, we’ve got Kivi Leroux Miller. She’s going to talk about putting together your first communications plan. If you don’t have a documented donor communications plan, a marketing communications plan, attend this webinar. She’s going to give you all the tools and templates and tips you need to put together that first plan. So we’d love to see you again one week from today. If not, there’s lots of other webinars you can register for if that one doesn’t quite tickle your fancy. And we’d love to see you some Thursday coming up.

So we’ll call it a day there. Have a great rest of your Thursday. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, and hope you return on Tuesday all refreshed and hopefully we’ll see you next Thursday. So we will call it a day there. Have a great rest of your day.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.