Planned Giving and the Coronavirus

Image result for covid 19On a client call yesterday, we addressed a serious issue: should we (staff and the consultant – myself) be doing proactive follow-up with planned giving prospects in the current environment?

No simple answer.

I am drafting follow-up email text for them asking prospects (who had indicated some level of planned giving interest in a recent online survey)  if they will be willing have a short conversation with us – a few follow-up questions based on the survey.  Very soft ask – which I have had success with in the past.

But, it dawned on us that right now – at least this week, perhaps for the next few weeks or longer – is not a good time to try to have any conversations, let alone one about one’s estate!

What do you think?  Please comment below!

Since our next Planned Giving Boot Camp starts on Monday, this will be addressed throughout the course as it’s the topic of the day!  Click here to check out our 6-part webinar (at home training) program starting on Monday at 12 pm EST.


  1. I would agree to tread cautiously, but I definitely think it’s an appropriate time to reach out to current legacy society donors and prospects (especially since they’re all at home). It may be that some or many of them are thinking are using this tragedy as a chance to update estate planning, so the conversations may happen organically.

  2. I believe that now is not a time to be asking, but rather reaching out with care and concern for our donors’ and prospects’ welfare. It’s a necessary “touch” in our work, and one that will be remembered. How about sending a card of encouragement? Do anything–just to let them know you’re thinking about them.

  3. Google/internet search analytics is showing an all-time high in estate planning interest, so it is top of donor’s minds and I think it would be a mistake to shy away. People are also sitting at home with nothing to do and they want to do something that can make them feel empowered. That said, the messaging needs to be sensitive and should not reference the pandemic itself. I literally started an email blast with “This is not the letter I expected to write to you this week. But when I look at the birds migrating outside the windows of my home office, I have hope…”

    Now might be a good time to invest with a marketing expert on how to best message this. FreeWill is also leading weekly webinars for nonprofits on this subject.

  4. We are postponing our April legacy campaign and considering a stewardship postcard instead. Then again, with California’s shelter-in-place status with exceptions for essential food, work etc only, not sure if we’ll get anything out on paper in April.

    I realize marketers are all about stay the course right now, but it just didn’t feel right in my gut. Our donors could be in the middle of having some or many loved ones sick in a few weeks.

  5. At a recent staff meeting I brought up how some consultants were saying this was a good time to talk to donors about making planned/legacy gifts. The premise is that donors will not be making cash donations like they have been and that now is a good time to talk to them about doing non-cash gifts such as putting us in their will for a future gift or as a beneficiary in a life insurance policy. One of our staff said, “but you don’t want our donors to think we’re saying, put us in your will because you might die next week from the Coronavirus!” We assured her that was not our intent at all, but I though it funny that I had not considered that perspective.

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