After months of uncertainty, nonprofits are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Giving in 2020 was up, the US has surpassed 100 million vaccinations, and states are beginning to reopen. However, fundraising experts, like the Forbes Nonprofit Council, are predicting slow rates of growth for the future, therefore, fundraising will continue to be a significant concern for many nonprofits.
So, the question that all nonprofit leaders now face is: How can I ensure that my organization has enough funding in order to stay afloat during potential storms in the near future?
One solution may be found in your planned giving program. Even during the most uncertain times, planned giving may be the most reliable source of funding. With this said, we all know that a substantial planned giving pipeline cannot be created overnight. Before getting to this point, it is on fundraisers to discover, engage, steward, and retain these individuals with personalized, 1-to-1 communications.
For resource-strapped development shops, this might seem like an insurmountable task that provides little value in the near term. However, the investment of time and resources to develop this pipeline may be the difference between future existence or not.
The Forbes Nonprofit Council recommends several useful strategies for building--and sustaining--a planned giving program. I want to highlight a few of them:
- Develop Strong Relationships - There is no secret that relationships are at the core of philanthropic participation. The donors that are engaged with your organization for long periods of time have the highest potential to be planned givers. Therefore, you must ensure that you manage these relationships well.
- Understand your Donor Base - In order to build and sustain a planned giving program, you must understand your donors in many ways, including getting to know them as an individual while also learning their giving patterns and deeper interests. In order to do this, again, you must create the opportunity to engage each donor with substantial touchpoints that move the needle forward during each interaction.
- Integrate Donors in Your Programs/Share How the Money Will Be Used - Donors want to know where their money is going. They want to understand the difference that they are making. So, we should be treating them as part of the mission of our organizations. For instance, if a donor makes a large gift to a college’s football program, then it would be a good idea to have the football coach reach out to the donor to have a conversation about how the funds will be used. With this type of personalization, the donor will immediately feel the impact that he or she is making.
Oftentimes, planned givers are annual fund donors that view a planned gift as their version of a major gift. Of course, stewarding every donor that contributes to the annual fund with the same level of personalization and white-glove service as known major donors is a tall task for any organization, regardless of staff size. Being able to contact the right donor at the right time to strike up a conversation relies on having the capacity to sift through the database, pick out the relevant information, craft an outreach strategy, and execute that strategy for a donor that may or may not even pledge a planned gift. Not to mention - all of this is on top of existing portfolio assignments.
Ultimately, your human capital should be focused on two things: building relationships and closing gifts. The fundraising profession is not defined by doing administrative tasks and sorting spreadsheets. So how can gift officers ensure that they are spending their time doing what matters?
Artificial intelligence (AI) tools like Gravyty Guide provide fundraisers with insights directly from the CRM that not only help inform outreach but personalizes that outreach for the fundraiser too. Gift officers receive a weekly digest email prioritizing the right donors to reach out to based on your overall fundraising strategy. From there, AI self-writes an email for the fundraiser to send, making outreach as simple as one click.
A list of names doesn't help fund your mission - people do. Isn't it time we start treating those people with the same respect they give your organization?
Fundraisers at Northern Kentucky University were able to use AI to ultimately improve communication with donors that had not previously been on anyone's radar. This opened the doors for a 6-figure planned gift and an additional major gift from someone who had previously only given $100.