Planned giving can provide your nonprofit and your donors with a valuable resource that can help undergird your financial stability. That’s why planned giving expert Jeff Jowdy recently joined us for a webinar in which he laid out the keys to establishing a planned giving program. In case you missed it, you can watch a replay here:
Steven: Well Jeff, are you with us?
Jeff: I am. Good afternoon.
Steven: Oh, good. I just want to make sure you’re unmuted, and Jay, if
you are unmuted as well. Let us know
Jay: Yes, I am, looking forward to it.
Steven: Cool. We’ve got about 60 seconds. I just wanted to make sure
you were both still with us and I went ahead and initiated the
recording. We should be all set. Well, it looks like my clock just
struck one o’clock. Do you want to get started?
Jeff: I’ll answer, yes. Let’s do it.
Steven: All right, cool. Well good afternoon for those of you on the
East Coast and good morning if you’re on the West. Thank you for
joining us for today’s webinar “The Keys to Establishing a Planned
Giving Program.” My name is Steven Shattuck and I’m the VP of
Marketing here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s
discussion. And today I’m just really excited to be joined by two
leaders in the nonprofit sector. The first is our new friend or my
new friend rather, Jeff Jowdy. Hey there, Jeff.
Jeff: Good afternoon, Steven.
Steven: Thanks for being here. Thanks for giving us part of your day to
share all of your knowledge with us.
Jeff: Delighted to be here part of the discussion.
Steven: Cool and for those of you don’t know Jeff, Jeff is the Founder
and President of Lighthouse Counsel. They’re a consulting firm
serving nonprofit clients in Board development, fundraising,
strategic planning, and communications. And their firm will
actually be celebrating its 15th anniversary, so happy birthday to
Lighthouse Counsel, I guess is in order.
Jeff: Thanks, man.
Steven: And Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership
experience. He’s got a Master’s degree. He’s just going to be a
real great resource for everyone listening for the next hour or
so, so it’s just great to have you here again, Jeff. So thanks for
Steven: And also joining us, as always, is my colleague, Jay Love. He’s
the Founder and CEO of right there at Bloomerang. Hey there, Jay.
Jay: Hey hello again, Steven, and everybody out there is really in for a
treat. I think Jeff’s information on getting a planned giving
program going is very, very insightful and should be one of our
better educational sessions that we’ve brought to everybody.
Steven: Yeah, it should be good and Jay’s going to join us in the Q&A
session just to spice up that conversation a little bit. So what’s
going to happen here today is Jeff’s got his presentation. He’s
going to talk about planned giving. I had a peek at this slides a
little earlier today and it’s some really great content. So he’s
going to run through that and immediately following his
presentation we’ll jump right into our interactive Q&A session.
So as you’re listening to Jeff over the next half hour or so, please
feel free to send any questions you may have, any comments right
there on that chat box, right there on your screen. And he’ll see
those. I’ll see those and we’ll try to answer just as many
questions as we can before the two o’clock Eastern hour.
And just in case anyone has to bounce early or wants to review the
content a little later, you should already have the slides, but I
will be sending out a full recording of the presentation, in case
you want to re-watch it or check something out a little bit later.
So look for that to hit your email inbox a little bit later this
afternoon. So I’m not going to take away any more time from Jeff.
Jeff, why don’t you go ahead and get us started?
Jeff: Great, thank you. Thanks, Steven and I appreciate everybody being
with us today. We’re going to have a lot of time for some Q&A and
one of the key messages, really, that I want to share today is
that planned giving can be easy and simple. So we’re not going to
take a deep dive by the nature of the topic. And that is the “Keys
to Establishing a Planned Giving Program.”
So I hope at the end of our conversation today that you’ll walk away
with one or two things that can help you either take your
fledgling program to the next level or to start a planned giving
program and so we’re going to keep it at that level where it’s
And one of the great things about planned giving and we’re just
grateful to Jay and Steven and Bloomerang for this opportunity is
that it’s all about relationships. And when you have Jay, will be
sharing later in the program, but a tool like Bloomerang that
focuses on communications and relationships and that’s certainly
what it’s all about are the basics.
So today we’re going to talk about a few key points. What is planned
giving and why is it important? When is the right time to
establish a planned giving program? What things need to be in
place and then how to market a planned giving program? So one of
the great things, again, is that planned giving doesn’t have to be
When we talk about planned gift for our discussion today, we’re
really talking about the gift that could be current, and we’ll
talk about that in a minute. It could be a gift of appreciated
stock or other assets or it could be planned. It could be a gift
that’s developed now that comes to fruition at a future time, like
a bequest. So we’ll talk more about that.
So it could be current. It could be planned. It doesn’t have to be
complicated and can happen at any age and that’s something that’s
important. We often typically look at donors in their 40s and 50s
and we’ll talk about this more in a minute. But wealth is being
accumulated at a faster rate today than it ever has in history,
because of the — with the exception of [inaudible 00:05:54]
obviously — but with the technology and internet and you can just
— incredible wealth is happening sooner.
So we’re seeing more and more people in their 20s and 30s with
incredible wealth that in past times would have taken a generation
for first generation wealth to be accumulated at that level. So
it’s certainly a different age, a different day. Then this does
not compete with other giving and having been a CEO and a Chief
Development Officer and Board member as well as a consultant, you
know oftentimes, in an organization there’s a tug of what we want.
We want to build our annual fund or we need to build these capital
Planned giving when done right helps with as tool for other kind of
giving and does not compete with those pieces. So that’s what
we’re going to cover today. The reality is that most people’s
wealth — as you accumulate more and more wealth — that most of
us don’t have most of our wealth in a passbook, savings account,
like where you may have generations ago, that over 90% of the
wealth typically is in non-cash assets, things that aren’t always
liquidated or some that can be.
So planned giving allows us to look at greater pools of resources and
allows donors to make a difference and that’s really what we want
to be is really donor-focused in any planned giving program. It
allows donors to leave a legacy to share their values. There are
tax benefits. We’ll briefly touch on those, but it really enables
donors they otherwise may not have been able to do.
We mentioned that there is a trend with younger donors getting more
and more involved. The average age for the creation of the first
wills and trusts is in the 40s. But younger people, as I
mentioned, are looking for ways to do things for tax advantage,
ways to make gifts. We’ve all heard of the forecast with [Hall
Service] at Boston College. The forecasting for the past, some 15-
20 years and for the 20-30 years to come that between $41 trillion
and $136 trillion will be transferred through wealth and certainly
the nonprofits want to be a part of that.
We’re familiar with the billionaire pledge where with Warren Buffett
and other leaders that are making a pledge to give a majority of
their estates to charity. So certainly time has changed over the
past 20 years, and more and more, organizations having focused on
planned giving and as [inaudible 00:09:00] said, suddenly planned
giving is where the money is, and it’s certainly where we need to
be as fundraising professionals.
Now a part of planned giving and not total, but something that’s
easily track-able is bequests and certainly we’ll talk about that
in a minute, but to set the stage in 2012 which is the last year
for the Giving USA forecasts, $23.4 billion in bequests were given
7% of overall giving. You can see a trend from ’73 to 2012 that
bequests range from about 6.6% to 8.9% of all giving. So bequests,
which are a majority of planned gifts, are an important part of
I always love to look at history and if you look back and think about
this wave — and it is a wave of planned giving and initiatives
and gifts and awareness. Looking back to familiar names in
history, in 1638 John Harvard gave his library and half his estate
to newly founded school in Cambridge, Massachusetts and it’s
Then I love the example of Benjamin Franklin who was, of course, many
things. He was a scientist, fundraiser, philanthropist and he made
a bequest of 1000? each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia
with the planning that he left in trusts, further planning to gain
an interest for 200 years. Then in 1990 when they came to
fruition, Philadelphia had $2 million in trust and then Boston did
a better job investing and it was $5 million, so just some great
historic features of planned giving, as we talk about planned
But again, planned giving is scalable. It can be built over time. It
can be different for different organizations, but it has to be in
place to be successful and has to be a priority of the
institution, that it’s all about relationships and helping the
donors achieve their goals and visions.
Okay and we’ll talk about some of the things that need to be in place
before a planned giving program, and one of those is different
staffing models. So even if you have no staff or shared staff, you
can get going in planned giving, and so one model is the shared
responsibility with development staff. Another model is that you
have staff dedicated to planned giving, and then if you have no
staff and even if you do, to coordinate with volunteer resources.
So certainly staffing is a consideration, but it’s not an
inhibitor. Whether you have a one person development, 100 person
development staff, dedicated planned gifts, or with an army of
volunteers, you can and will be successful in planned giving.
Then when it’s the right time to establish a planned giving program,
the answer really is when you have a track record of success.
Planned giving people are thinking future. They’re thinking
typically larger, so you want a track record of success. You don’t
want to typically be in existence for a year and start looking at
planned gifts. So people don’t have the assurance that you’re
going to be in existence. So we’re sharing that 10 years is a good
threshold when you have outcomes or people are seeing results and
you’ve told those stories in a very compelling way.
When you have been through a strategic planning process or two and
you have one currently, again, where people know that you’re
forward thinking, that you’re being strategic in what you want to
accomplish. You have stable leadership, both staff and volunteers
and you’ll want a donor base when you being to establish a planned
And so some of the things that need to be in place when you establish
a planned giving program, the first and foremost is the Board
commitment. The Board will be there and as staff may come and go
and they have the culture of the organization, so if you’re going
to get into planned giving it’s essential that your Board be
That they understand their role of planned giving in the organization
and how important it is. That they’re willing to add other
development initiatives help with planned giving. So if you’re
going to establish a planned giving program and take it to the
next level that is the best place really to start with the Board.
To get them educated if you’re establishing a new program or
revitalizing it, the Board will be your best prospects to make
gifts and identify them and have them share their stories, whether
it be a bequest or other vehicles.
I have a question, if the Board should make a planned giving? Yeah,
absolutely the Board should, but you also want to realize — I
wouldn’t suggest necessarily Board giving or planned gift as a
policy and that’s something that different — because your Board
is coming on with different times, rather than to say you’ve got
to make a planned gift for our organization.
You may be better off then, in considering it in five or ten years.
So you want to educate them. You want to invite them, but you also
want to do it in their timing. But you will with the right Board,
you’ll have your hands full at least, of individuals you can
approach and secure planned gifts and use that and they need to
understand planned giving and be supportive of it.
The next piece would be with that undergirding would be the staff
commitment and it would be our challenge as development
professionals and CEO’s to hold the course, that planned giving’s
important, that some of the greatest gifts that are possible for
our organizations can and will come through planned giving. But if
we don’t hold the course, and commit to it, planned giving if you
think about it, you could be 40-50 years with a relationship
before a gift comes to fruition. So you’ve got to have the
commitment and that long-term perspective.
And again, we mentioned earlier that oftentimes a CEO might come in
and want to build and grow and focus on capital. Well, planned
giving can help with that. It shouldn’t be seen as competition.
But for the staff and for the CEO and for the development person,
it really has to be a priority and hold the course. And the other
piece that needs to be really in place is policies that will guide
your program and those policies might include and should include
what kind of vehicles will you offer?
Now to have a successful planned giving program and to start a
planned giving program, you really just need to keep it basic and
simple. There are a lot of vehicles and opportunities that are
what you need to make the decision what kind of gifts can you
handle and will you handle, and are you setup to handle. You’ll
also want to have gift acceptance policies. So how do you handle
when someone wants to give you some closely held stock and how you
liquidate it, some gifts of property how do you handle it? What
kind of gifts do you take and what is it to be consistent?
Then if your planned giving is to your Board’s endowment, and
oftentimes it is, that you’ll want to have some endowment policies
in terms of paying out every year and how the funds are managed.
One of the things that we recommend if you’re establishing a
planned giving program is that undesignated planned gifts would go
to endowments, and that’s one that will grow endowments and really
it’s just synergy that takes place throughout the organization.
Okay, how do we market planned giving? Of course, we know from our
experience that approaching individual visits are the most
effective. We’ve got the Web and the great opportunities that are
available now. Print publications, we find that a mix of print and
Web combined are most effective. You’ve got courses and the
opportunity, whether it be by mail, on the Web, in person, to do
seminars and then a planned giving recognition society, which is
certainly a pillar of a planned giving program where you recognize
donors for a documented planned gift.
There is some discussion whether you should ask for documentation or
not. We would recommend that. But certainly, you need to be
sensitive to the fact that according to a study that 36% of
bequest have let a nonprofit know and 80% of those who hadn’t said
it was none of their business. So certainly a question on
documentation, but certainly an important piece of planned giving.
There have been a couple of studies over the past years, increasing
studies, more and more research is being done on planned giving,
which helps with the marketing. Most of it really confirms what
you would say intuitively is common sense, but it reflects that
more and more nonprofits are getting into planned giving and
promoting and making visits.
So more and more times donors are citing the first source of idea for
bequests that are coming from charity, more and more learning
about the opportunities for planned gifts through materials and
visits. I mentioned earlier that younger donors are making planned
gifts and about over two-thirds of planned giving donors have
typically made a cash gift. So it’s not competition, but yet,
think about it, it’s a third of people who may have never made a
gift to your organization that would be willing to make a planned
Some of the research that’s being done is actually now looking at the
direction of the [inaudible 00:22:05] to discussion of planned
giving and that research, Dr. Russell James at Texas Tech is
really confirming what we know that what we believed about sharing
stories of planned gifts and how those would have made a
difference, and telling stories of living donors. And also what’s
interesting in some of the research is that older prospects are
more sensitive to talking about death and that younger prospects
don’t seem to be — well we don’t know how they’ll be as they age,
So who are our ideal prospective donors for planned giving? Of
course, past and current donors, planned giving donors, some of
them may have made a bequest and then might want to consider an
addition to that or a more sophisticated vehicle. The Board and
your former Board and don’t forget your former volunteers. We know
from many of these studies that on giving and on planned giving
that volunteers are our best prospects. Networking with
professional advisors, studies are showing that they are more and
more in positions of influence for people in making planned gifts.
Then I made the point here that the best planned giving prospects,
which is no surprise is someone who is single, or a couple with no
grandchildren. That some of research that Dr. Russell had done is
the fact that donors without children, couple without them and
single people are your best prospects, overwhelmingly. [no audio
00:24:04] that a couple of different studies that are in place
basically, we’ll say the Texas Tech study that donors of age 50
and over, almost 6.0% have charitable plans.
But when you segment that and look at donors who are giving $500 or
more a year 9.4% have gift plans. [Inaudible 00:24:35] did some
research in 2008 for adults 40 and over — a younger age group —
they found that 7% had a bequest and another 10% would consider.
They also found some research that most of the bequests are made
in the last five years of life and that people don’t change their
wills and drop charities very often. So really with the planned
giving would be to cast a wide net to research, focus on
relationships and just realize that you’ve got to cast that wide
net because you really never know.
Some of the favorite stories and we often see them, but a couple of
snippets here. This is from February of this year. A prominent low-
profile Washington philanthropist has left a surprise bequest of
$28 million to one of the oldest social service charities in the
nations’ capitol. [Inaudible 00:25:54] died in November a few
months after his 100th birthday, never married, no immediate
A surprise bequest of $50,000 from a former resident will give a
boost to the Florence Student Scholarship Fund in New Brunswick.
Retired elementary school teacher [inaudible 00:26:13] explained
that [inaudible 00:26:14] was a longtime kindergarten teacher in
Kathleen [Magowan] lived a frugal life with her twin brother, Robert,
in the classic New England town of Simsbury, Connecticut until she
died in 2011 at age 87. Remembered mainly for the 35 years she was
a first grade teacher in the local elementary school. And now the
town of the 23,000 people is buzzing with the news that she had a
secret, a big one, a $6 million secret. More than a dozen
charitable institutions discovered they had been left thousands of
dollars from her estate.
So just some examples of the fact that you’ve got to keep that broad
net going, that a third of your plan giving donors may have never
given to your institution. You know two-thirds are and we can
focus on them as well. They’re just as important and so always
keep that net wide.
Then we’ve mentioned the Partnership for Nonprofit Giving, the
Association of Fundraising Professionals case and we like the good
work that the Sharpe Group and Joe, who’s the Senior Consultant
there do in terms of planned giving.
But really the planned giving programs need to be tailored to the
needs of your organization. It’s not going to be complicated. It
shouldn’t be. You can focus on really just four main types of
gifts when you establish a planned giving program and those would
be the gifts of appreciated assets, insurance policies, [inaudible
00:28:16] plans and there’s a renewal of the IRA rollover
provision for giving this year, and bequests and a lot of other
things that really if you’re establishing a planned giving program
to be aware of the tax benefits of people giving you appreciated
assets, stock, property.
The ability for people to transfer or have a new life insurance
program for your organization for them to give the retirement
program a plan and make bequests, those four easily explained and
easily understandable for you to try for your planned giving
program for success.
Steven: Cool. Well thanks, Jeff, if there’s not anything else from your
core presentation. I think we can move right into the Q&A session
if that’s okay with you?
Jeff: Right, absolutely.
Steven: Cool. That was great. Thanks for that information. That was a
really nice introduction to planned giving and a lot of good
tidbits there, so hopefully everyone enjoyed that as much as I
did. I definitely learned a lot. Looks like there were some pretty
good conversations happening in the chat box, so if any of you
were maybe holding on to a question or had something you were
wondering, we’ve got Jeff here for the next 15 or 20 minutes. He’s
a resource for you and we’ve got Jay on the line as well. So feel
free to send those questions over and we’ll try to answer, Jeff,
as many as possible. And I’m just going go to the top of the chat
Jay: You can say we’ve got trouble. I’m in there already.
Steven: Yeah, we’ve got some really good discussion. It looks like,
Jeff, your little bit about including the Board, that seemed to
generate a lot of discussion and I’m wondering what tips do you
have, for maybe getting that buy-in from the Board. How would you
suggest a nonprofit leadership approach their Board with this kind
of plan and specifically getting them to actually be a part of the
plan giving program as well? I know you mentioned that obviously
that they’re great prospects for giving. How do you approach those
folks to get buy-in?
Jeff: I think you start with a sequential plan and that would be they have
to understand first how beneficial planned giving can be to the
mission of the organization. The second piece I would say in terms
of education is I would not presume that your Board already has a
certain level of expertise. We’ve dealt with Boards with financial
professionals and planners, and people of great wealth, and you
don’t always have a common background in terms of planned giving
So you want to explain to them first and foremost the benefits to the
organization in terms of dollars and helping the mission. They
need to understand how a planned giving program works and it’s a
long-term commitment and it’s a long-term perspective, but with
great yields, great opportunity. Then that they understand for
their own benefit, because planned giving benefits the donor. You
want to make sure they understand different opportunities.
And again, starting a planned giving program, I’d keep it simple with
those four basic opportunities to give that anybody can do. And
then you start a planned giving society and recognition society.
You’ll encourage Board members to be a part. I tend to shy away
from asking 100% Board to do that because — especially when
you’re starting the program. When it’s established and you’re
inviting Board members on to an established it might be different,
but people have different points in their lives and the question
would be if the Board does not make a planned gift that that
precludes him or her from future service.
Jeff: That’s a question that the organization has to make or answer,
rather. But certainly we know that personal visits are most
effective, to allow a follow up with a general educational piece
with businesses and Board members and then you begin to highlight
Board members who have made gifts and let them share their
testimony at a Board meeting in terms of how they made their gift,
why they made it, how easy it was. You set that culture.
Jay: If I could offer a testimony here that might help answer the question
too. My first planned gift — I speak from experience. My wife and
I have committed to four planned gifts ourselves and my first one
was with an organization I was on the Board of and on the Board
member intake form, one of the questions listed there, Jeff, was
do you have a will?
And when I answered that that led right into some discussions and
they did a very good Board orientation that was a half a day and
they had luncheon at the end of it for anybody that wanted to
further discuss that, from someone that was in the development
operation of this nonprofit. And we talked about planned giving at
that luncheon and one thing led to another but it all started from
just a simple little question in the Board orientation information
you filled in of do you have a will.
Steven: That’s great. We’ve got a neat question here from Angela here
in the chat room and Angela’s wondering. She works at an
independent Christian school she says, and they’ve been around for
25 years, but they’ve only just sort of started in the past year
seeking these kinds of planned gifts. So she’s saying her donor
base is kind of in its infancy and Jeff, you talked about when a
group should be ready for these things or when they should get
Do you think her organization is ready, even though they’ve only been
kind of doing fundraising for a year, year and a half or do you
think the fact that “Hey, the organization’s been around for 25
years is enough”? When do you think they should start looking at
Jeff: If they’ve been around 25, they have a new donor base obviously, with
just being [inaudible 00:34:52] for a year, but that 25 years if
they can ask the question would a donor expect them to be in
existence in 50 years, 25 years. If they can yes to that, then
now’s the time and one of the important pieces and we mentioned
this, how are you going got handle planned giving?
Do you have an endowment, because oftentimes, planned gifting does
not have to go to endowment? You want the donor to designate, but
oftentimes it does, more often than not. So where would those
funds go if you have an endowment? So you want to go ahead and
establish that endowment and have the policies in place and the
details in place to give the donors assurance that their gifts
will be used how they like. But I think that 25 years it’d be time
to — and the school and the mission — it would be time to get
Steven: Cool. Yeah, go ahead and get going, Angela.
Jay: Yeah, and one other thing. One of our Bloomerang customers actually
started based upon a planned gift. It was a large gift that was
left that actually started a charity. So in essence that group was
in the planned giving business the day they opened their doors.
They got their certification.
Steven: Well, going back to the issue of the Board quickly. We’ve got a
neat question from Barbara and Barbara says that she recently made
a presentation to her Board about planned giving. She’s wondering
what you think about a group planned gift through the purchase of
a life insurance policy, that one of the members was interested in
doing that and maybe sharing the premium payments over five years
with annual tax deductible gifts. What do you think of that option
as a way to sort of fund the actual program? Is that something
you’ve run into, Jeff, using a life insurance policy?
Jeff: Using a life insurance, yes absolutely. I tend to want to keep things
simple and if I have a policy that then becomes five people, hey I
would rather them to have five individual policies. Frankly this
is just a personal perspective because having those five sharing,
it makes things complicated. If one drops out, what happens?
There are several ways — with life insurance a donor can have fully
paid up policy and they can transfer it, and they know you’ve got
it and you could even cash out. It’s got cash value typically. And
then if people are paying on a policy, they could either, transfer
you as the owner/beneficiary and make this gift to you and they as
a tax deductible and you have the policy and they keep paying
until it either comes to fruition or it’s paid up paying that kind
of policy, or they can start a new policy.
So it’s a great vehicle. It’s one of those core strategies dealing
with the press and gifts of assets that are so easy for people to
understand that I would tend to shy away from joint policies as
unapproachable. I would present that as one option. But I would
keep it individual in its nature.
Steven: Cool. We’ve got a question here from Mary and she admits that
this isn’t completely on topic, but she’s wondering when you gents
think it’s appropriate to begin and endowment? She’s wondering is
it recommended to have 10 years of success before starting an
endowment, is there a certain amount of time should pass before
you start those things? What do you think about when to start an
Jeff: I would do the same — about 10 years because your endowment, the
same thing, it’s like planned giving and they’re tied together.
You want people to think you’re going to be around and you have a
proven track record.
Jay: I’ll answer that too, Steven. I think that depends. One of the best
ways to start an endowment is to have it with matching endowment
funds. And we’re very fortunate here in the state of Indiana we
have a large group by the name of the Lilly Endowment, associated
with the Eli Lilly Company that was formed.
And from time to time they’ve helped organizations establish
endowments. And one of the things they wanted to do was help as
many of the public school foundations start endowments and they
should have challenged a few years ago that you had an entire year
to raise up to $1 million in endowed funds and they would match up
to $1 million.
And many of those public school foundations started that year in the
first quarter and by the fourth quarter they had raised a million,
which meant that they started off the next year with a $2 million
endowment. So I would further add to that that one of the
wonderful ways to do that is not only with a foundation, but with
a major donor and say, “Can we use your gift to establish an
endowment and can we use it in a way that would match and
encourage others to do that.” And that particular case I watched
numerous of those public school foundations come to life from that
very, very wonderful endeavor provided by that foundation.
Jeff: I’ll just add that’s a great opportunity when you look at endowments
and the establishing of that endowment is a whole other webinar.
But one of the things that you’ll want to determine is who’s going
to manage it and some organizations manage their own endowment,
but one of the best ways, easiest ways to quickly get one up and
running is if you have a community foundation in your city or your
region or state.
You can simple get in there and establish a fund with a very low
threshold and really what we find is that as endowments is when
it’s critical mass, that once you get to couple hundred, half a
million, a million dollars people start thinking of you
differently. So an easy way to start would be with aligning with a
Steven: That makes sense. Well, Jeff, you’ve talked about the kinds of
people who would give a gift of this nature and James in the chat
room here was wondering why a person who has never made a gift to
your organization would suddenly make a planned gift. Is that kind
of scenario something you see a lot where you get a big gift in a
will from someone who has never given to the organization? Does
that kind of thing happen or is that a rarity?
Jeff: No. Back to the study it does happen. The research shows that a third
of the donors who make a planned gift never made a gift to the
Jeff: But again, you look at research. You look at studies and you can
drown in them. That’s why we want to keep it simple. But what that
tells me and I want to keep casting a large net. I want to keep at
every opportunity whether it points to share about planned giving
and endowments. But then two-thirds if you’re going to pick
focusing on one-third or two-thirds for outcomes, you focus on the
two-thirds and those are the people who have made gifts.
Steven: Right, I just find that really interesting that makes up one-
third of gifts. That’s pretty interesting. Well we’ve got a neat
question here from it looks like Tamara. And Tamara, if I’m
pronouncing your name wrong, I’m so sorry. Feel free to correct me
in the chat room there. But she’s wondering. She works for a small
They are four years old, about four years old and they’ve got annual
revenue of $1.5 million. She’s wondering, Jeff, if there’s any
software or other tools that you would recommend to her for
getting a planned program policy or program in place. Is there
anything that you would recommend for maybe a smaller nonprofit to
get going on this kind of stuff?
Jeff: Yeah, a lot of folks and I mentioned the Sharpe Company a minute ago.
I wouldn’t if I look at my basic four types of gifts that are
overwhelming that have the return for your nonprofit, whether
you’re building on an [inaudible 00:43:43] budget or hundreds of
millions in budget, or a billion dollar budget, your bread and
butter still would be those four basic categories. So I wouldn’t
be as concerned about — especially without having staff in place
— about software that runs calculations.
But you’ll find is — what I would look at is possibly a plan in your
budget, a planned giving website. You can have a lot of vendors,
[Sharpe] among them, they can develop a planned giving website
that mirrors your site that’s a link attached to your giving page.
And a lot of those websites will have some basic calculations for
So that’s all in one package. That’s what I’d recommend would be if
you have the resources, certainly to go ahead. As we’re all aging,
the demographics of the internet and social media is changing as
we age, and so one of the things I certainly would look at when I
had the resources would be a planned giving website.
Steven: That makes sense. We’ve got about probably five or six minutes.
I think we’ll do a couple more questions before we start to wrap
things up. I know folks are probably eager to get to lunch if
they’re a little further back in the time zones. We’ve got another
question from another small nonprofit and we tend to attract that
kind of audience to our webinars which is great. From Tina, Tina’s
She’s got a limited staff. They’ve got limited experience. She’s
wondering if, Jeff, you would recommend establishing some sort of
resource or advisory committee to get a planned giving program
started and if so what kind of people would you include on that
committee. Do you think participation would be a conflict for
anyone else? Do you have any experience of putting together a type
of committee like that? Has it worked out?
Jeff: Absolutely, even if I had a — some people call it a special
advisory committee and we mentioned different models and this
would be one where you don’t have any staff and plan on getting
staffed. So to pull together a team of professionals, who can help
with seminars, can help with technical questions.
Even with what I’ve found is and there’s a question of the software,
if you have a professional advisory committee, you’ll typically
have people on there that have various planned giving software and
they can some more calculations for you and ultimately do it as a
part of volunteer service. So leverage that.
So absolutely, I would establish a professional advisory or planned
giving advisory committee and would include a financial planner,
insurance, stockbrokers, other professional advisor, attorneys
obviously, estate finance attorneys and general attorneys.
And as a reference and also you mentioned the conflict, you just want
to be sure and have clear policies over what you’re asking of them
and what they get paid for and what they don’t and just be sure
that you have appropriate policies in place so there are no strong
conflicts of interest.
Jay: And I might add to that too, Steven and Jeff, another category of
people to include for that where I’ve seen it be successful are
people that are retired fundraisers with planned giving
experience. They have been some of the very best because not only
do they know the technical ins and outs of these other professions
would provide there, but just some of the good, strong basics of
what you should have in some of your guidelines and some of the
different documents that you’d like to have your policies and all.
Someone that’s done that that’s now retired and is willing to give
back a little bit of their time, they have been wonderful
resources, and there are more and more of those types of folks
Steven: Great. Well we’ve got a question from Sarah. Sarah, again,
works at a smaller nonprofit, and she’s wondering how you actually
ask a potential for these kinds of things. How do you approach
someone with the subject of planned giving? Just as a real
practical matter, would you invite them maybe out to coffee? Do
you call them up? You know how do you actually — brass tacks —
approach someone and make the ask? Obviously, making the ask is
one of the hardest things to do. What advice would you have for
Sarah on making that ask there, Jeff?
Jeff: In the ideal world it’d be like any other gift bequest, you want the
donor to begin to ask you. You know how could I do this? What does
it mean? So it doesn’t need to be a first visit and you need to
know enough about the donor and their values and what they feel’s
important. What kind of legacy they want to leave. So it needs to
be a conversation after many where you know about his or her or
their circumstances. You know about their family. You know about
As you get to know donors, even casually, you begin to learn. You
know we’ve mentioned some of the best planned giving prospects are
obviously people with no children and no grandchildren. That’s the
number one reason people change their charitable gift plans and
take charities out is the incidence of grandchildren. But yet, if
you look at the billionaire pledge and going back to the days of
Rockefeller where they gave over half their estate. The same kind
of principle you have people who are saying today, enough is
enough. My children have enough. I don’t want them to have too
But you need to know the answer to those kinds of questions, I
believe, before you really have a deep conversation on planned
giving. You need to know enough about the donor where you feel
comfortable, and then it becomes a time where in most cases, the
party made gifts to your organizations or your organization and
you just ask them a simple question of what kind of legacy would
you like to leave and have you considered and is there any
information we can provide?
It’s interesting because the studies and statistics show the older
donors don’t like talking about planned giving because it brings
about thought of their death. Those of us who are middle-aged
don’t care so much. But we’re not at that age yet. And this
research is all new and we’re just going to see how that tracks.
Is there change in the lives and behavior of the last 20 or 30
years? But it’s clear that over the past 20 years the whole
discussion of planned giving, the awareness of it has increased
exponentially for a number of reasons.
Jeff: But the right way would be obviously one on one, obviously not the
first conversation and where you know enough about, again, the
donor’s circumstances is where you can have the conversation.
Because you want to help them, your goal is to help them fulfill
their desires and what is it they want to pass along. What kind of
legacy do they want to leave, and also again, planned giving can
be current, as well as…
So it may be the discussion in a capital campaign, have you
considered a gift of assets. You might know about some non-income
producing assets that have highly appreciated. They can be
liquidated that are not helping the donor. That can help them meet
an objective in their own life and finances, as well as help make
a difference to your organization.
Jay: And Steven, I’ll jump in with an answer too. If you’re a small
nonprofit, I think so much begins — no matter whether it’s major
gifts or planned giving and bequest giving — with your Board and
I would say that group includes not only your current Board, but
former Board members. If you can start there and then let those
individuals not only become involved with a planned gift
hopefully, but let them branch you out into other people that they
think would be appropriate to do that and to other professionals
that could help with that. That could make such a difference, but
it all hinges I think, for the smaller nonprofit on that
particular group that’s the Board and former Board members.
Steven: Makes sense. Well I’m going to do one more question. I think
we’ve probably got time for about one more before we wrap things
up and I know, Jeff, we’ve been giving your brain a workout here.
So if you can share your knowledge for just one more question,
we’d all be really appreciative of it. There are actually two
questions here that are pretty similar. So I’m going to kind of
lump them together. And they’re both about kind of a sensitive
Ethan’s wondering, what’s the best way to convince a planned gift
donor to sort of provide documented proof of their gift or their
desire to give that gift. And then Jay is wondering how often
should you maybe revisit that, especially if that commitment was
made kind of maybe earlier in their life and some time has passed?
You know that’s kind of a sensitive thing and Jeff, I’m wondering
how you might approach that subject?
Jeff: The documentation — and we’re big on that and there’s not a single
voice. Some people say, “No, don’t.” But that is typically you’re
providing them the opportunity to be a part of a planned giving
recognition society, which is a great vehicle.
Jay: A legacy society or something of that nature, yes.
Jeff: Exactly. So that is the entre for that society we’re asking for you
to — I would recommend you provide documentation and it doesn’t
have to be a whole instrument. I’ve made planned gifts to a few
organizations and I’ve provided them with that page in my will
with other things blocked, so they don’t know who else is
involved. But it’s just that one segment and they’re aware of it.
In return for that, those organizations, I’m a member of their
planned giving society and I receive some recognition. I receive
But the reality is you’ve got to know your donor and some people —
we know that a third have never made a gift and who might be
planned giving prospect. We know that a lot of people have made
gifts and we’re never of which those fun examples that I shared,
kind of the millionaire next door story, but those are people who
clearly the nonprofits know were going to be making a gift and in
most cases they had some connection to those organizations. So
it’s just a matter of that’s a part of the promotion of the
society and donor recognition.
And we know that some donors, whether it be annual or a capital
endowment choose to be anonymous and some are very private, and
some like recognition and some don’t. So if you in a very
appropriate way explain the importance of it, why you’d like it,
that it’s confidential, then I definitely just request it and
you’ll find that more and more people are becoming adjusted to
that these days, more and more especially higher education and
healthcare institutions do that.
So in many cases it won’t be the first time that someone’s been asked
for documentation. But in some cases it is and you have to be
sensitive to that and know your donor and know where they’re
Steven: Makes a lot of sense. Well, we’ve got about five minutes left.
I think we’ll end the questions there, and Jeff, thanks so much
for sharing your knowledge and answering so many questions with
us. I certainly learned a lot. Hopefully, everyone who was
listening enjoyed it as much as I know that Jay and I did. Just in
the five minutes or so we’ve got left, could you tell us a little
bit about your organization, a little bit about Lighthouse Counsel
and how folks can maybe get more information about that expertise
that you just shared?
Jeff: Right, thank you, Steven. Part of nonprofits to help them be more
effective and to increase their philanthropic support, as you
mentioned we do fundraising, strategic planning, Board development
counsel. We’re based out of Franklin, Tennessee and Athens,
Georgia and you can see on the slide there. We’d love to connect
with you on Facebook, on Twitter I’m @jeffjowdy.
I’d love to connect with you there, as well as on LinkedIn as an
individual. We also have a company page on LinkedIn. But we’d love
to hear from and appreciate the listeners and viewers today very
much and we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve got any questions
that weren’t answered we’ll be delighting to dialogue with you,
either by email and you see it there or through the Facebook. We
have a group page there, as well as Twitter and LinkedIn.
Steven: Yeah, Jeff, we’ve gotten a lot of tweets from Jeff, so don’t be
afraid to send him a tweet there on Twitter. He’ll definitely
respond to it there if you like to use that social network. Jeff
just thanks again for joining us. It was really a lot of fun. This
is actually our last webinar of the year, but we’ve got a full
slate planned for the first quarter of next year. We’re going to
have some really great guests in January. The folks from the
Fundraising Effectiveness Project, they’re going to join us and
share some of their research on donor retention, kind of beyond
that actual report that they send out every year. So don’t miss
that. It’ll be in early January.
Got some other great guests slated, Clair Axelrod, Pamela Grow,
Robert Sweeney, they’re all going to share their knowledge.
Totally free webinars, totally educational, so check our webinar
page. You know sign up for our newsletter and you’ll get all the
invitations for those as they come out. So definitely visit our
page there. And with that I think we’ll call it a day. So Jeff
again, thanks for joining us. It was really great to have you. I
had a lot of fun, so thanks for being here once again.
Jeff: Right, thank you.
Jay: I’ll pass on my thanks too, Jeff. We certainly appreciate you doing
it and hope we get a chance to talk with some of the other folks
that were out there for the session in the future too.
Jeff: Great, thank you.
Steven: And we’ll be sending out the slides and the full recording of
the presentation if anyone would like to re-watch and maybe pick
up some tidbits that they might have missed. So look for an email
from me a little bit later today and have a great rest of your
holiday season. Have a good New Year’s and we’ll talk to you all
soon, next month. So have a great rest of your day.