planned giving officer training

Fall Training Program Dates!


BootCampWe are pleased to announce fall dates for our popular training programs.

The Planned Giving Boot Camp – our original webinar training program that jumpstarts you and your team into this crucial area – for just $350 your entire team can participate – starts again on October 13, 2016 at 12 noon (EST)!  This is a 6-part program, one hour each session, all recorded in case you miss a class.  Click here or the above picture for more info or to register.

Or, for those beyond the basics, click here to learn more about Beyond the Planned Giving Boot Camp (or part II) – our 4-part follow-up webinar program starts October 26 for $240 for your team to learn more about implementing a successful planned giving program. Or, click the below picture.



Careers in Planned Giving – Part 3 – The Partial Planned Giving Officer

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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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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?


To Ask or Not…That is the million dollar planned giving question!

General fundraisers can all agree to one principle of fundraising: an “ask” for money has to be made (whether it’s an in-person meeting, a direct mail solicitation, dinner invite, telemarketer, etc….).

But, for planned giving?  Is it about the “ask”?  Do we even make an “ask”?

Personally, from my days as a planned giving fundraiser (whether at a national civil rights org. or at a hospital), I rarely had to ask for a “planned gift.”  More often than not, my job was to introduce ideas, guide the process, push (in a professional manner, of course) to see a planned gift idea to completion.  And, most larger planned giving programs can attest that most of their bequest donors, in particular, were never directly asked to include the organization in their estates. And, for the complex gifts, quite often the conversations are started by the donors and the fundraiser just needs to manage the process towards a complete gift.  Not many real “asks”.

Great, that works well for an organization reaching out to hundreds of thousands of donors, prospects and the public in general.  It is more of a marketing question in a lot of those cases.

What about smaller organizations?  Schools, social service agencies, temples/churches, etc…  The potential audience is limited and unsolicited planned gifts don’t happen very often, if ever.  What do you do?

At a recent training event, I was challenged (while on stage, no less) that the previous guest speaker had communicated that planned giving didn’t involve an “ask” – rather it was about putting ideas in front of the right people, picking up the signs of interest, building the relationship, and so on.  Soft marketing.  All true.

It dawned on me though, and this is what we do with many clients, that for smaller shops its seems as though leadership and very likely prospects need to be “asked” to “consider” a legacy gift at some point in the relationship.  Maybe not at a first meeting on the subject.  And, certainly not the same as a standard fundraising ask which should include a specific dollar amount. But, it is at least a “call to action,” albeit one that should be softly courted as the changing of one’s estate plans is a sensitive and personal decision.

As far as I am concerned, this idea applies also to the leadership at the larger organizations.  I have had numerous conversations with planned giving fundraisers and the consensus is that most work primarily with non-leadership donors.  Leadership remains in the realm of the lead fundraisers, not the planned giving officers.  Will a planned giving conversation happen with a leader?  Not always and only after their passing does the lament set in that no bequest or other planned gift was in place.

I once marveled when comparing a recent bequest of over $1 million from a barely known legacy society donor to that of a long time board member who had recently passed (and the bosses asked me to somehow find out if we were in his estate plans – it was public knowledge that he had hundreds of millions in assets at his passing).  That board member’s average giving was around $25,000 a year for 25 years – over $600,000 in lifetime giving.  Very significant but no bequest.  That little old lady, who got about 1,000 times less attention, had a greater lifetime giving amount than the wealthy board member!

Two lessons.  Keep investing in planned giving promotion because there will be a payoff.  The off-the-radar legacy society member can easily outproduce many of your leaders at the end of the day.  And, “ask” those leaders if they will at least “consider” an estate plan gift.  It can’t be so soft that the leader never realizes that he or she is being asked to do something in their estate  plans.



Planned Giving Training Event in North Jersey

If you live in or near Northern New Jersey, check out this link for a training event that I am speaking at and my firm is co-sponsoring with Montclair State University:


Actually, the price can’t be beat ($10 to cover parking and refreshments) as well as the central location on the campus of Montclair State University.