We left off last week on the generally understood phenomenon that full-time planned giving officer positions are not widespread. My hunch is that this will change, especially as baby-boomers move into planned giving territory (for another post). But, for now, if you are interested in planned giving (career-wise), you are probably best advised to work in fundraising and pick up some planned giving responsibilities.
This works in a few common scenarios.
Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving – This a common position that seeks a major gifts fundraiser who will also cover planned giving. I choose my words carefully. Most of these positions are primarily major gifts. The problem with these scenarios is that the major gifts piece usually consumes the fundraiser – leaving little or no time for much planned giving to happen.
In fact, these scenarios are usually recipes for planned giving mediocracy since the person who is supposed to implement the planned giving program is only judged on their major gift success. So, for organizational leaders reading this post, think carefully before throwing planned giving into your major gift director’s lists of responsibilities. If you have potential in planned giving, you may be severely hampering your organization in this area.
What you can you do as a major gifts fundraiser (you better be one or else you may not have a job for long) who has planned giving in your title and responsibilities to succeed on the planned giving front?
- Learn how to integrate planned giving into your major gift asks! Make it part of the equation for most donors. Get used to using your “legacy opener” with as many donors as possible (you’ll have to take our planned giving boot camp to find out more about that!) This may take some practice but it works.
- Learn to use outside vendors to get planned giving pieces out! This may cost a few extra dollars but may save a ton of time and if done well, could bring in so many planned giving prospects that someone on staff may need to become full time in planned giving!
- Learn how to quantify all planned giving commitments. The majority of planned gifts are simple bequests -with no dollar figure until the donor passes. Change that paradigm. Create incentives for donors to reveal approximately what they plan – maybe matching gift campaigns or inclusion in a capital campaign. Or, come up with an average bequest size. If that is too difficult, use $50,000 as an average bequest size.
Director of other areas of fundraising (like annual fund or general fundraisers) that have planned giving as an extra responsibility. This is even further removed from actually being required to do any planned giving since it isn’t even in your title.
You can always implement the three above suggestions and try to find ways to get the organization to at least add it to your job title. The key is to show results and potential.
In other words, money – get their attention with large planned gifts! It works almost every time.
In the meantime, you can take training courses (like my boot camp!), join your local planned giving council, and also train yourself in personal financial planning!
When the time comes, if you have any planned giving donor experiences to share or other planned giving successes, you will be ready for a planned giving only job (pg director or pg officer). You don’t need certifications or fancy titles – just experience with donors and planned gifts.
Anyway, I am telling you right now – the nonprofit world is waking up to the need to staff-up in planned giving. Get yourself some hands-on experience while working the annual fund or various other levels of donors and you will be good to go.
Next post: The Planned Giving Tidal Wave – How soon?