There comes a time in all development programs when the paradigm must shift, both in how your ministry advances and how donors propel their giving.
Planned giving focuses on the predicted historical wealth transfer for an upcoming decade.
Although essential to any successful advancement program, planned giving is not always received and encouraged with open, welcoming arms.
I have regular conversations with advancement directors beginning with a request to prepare them for their perceived adversary – their Board. While we’ve all heard at least a horror story or two about a rigid or difficult board, take heart! This generality does not have to be the norm!
You have the power to determine and define what your relationship with your board members looks like. Furthermore, you have the calling on your life to move your ministry forward with the vision God has given you. When He is for you, who can be against you? The key is remembering you are all in this – together.
A planned giving campaign is a wonderful first step on the journey of positive relations between all invested parties. You’re working in the present to secure your ministry’s future.
To get you started, or to keep you encouraged, here are four doable steps your ministry can plant today to see a harvest tomorrow.
1. Plan clearly.
It’s difficult to argue people should invest wealth they have spent a lifetime building in your ministry if you cannot clearly articulate a 3-10 year series of steps that are profoundly addressed through generous giving. Work with your team to develop and edit a “living” development plan.
I say living because this will be a growing, changing, adapting document. It does not need to be perfect, but it does need to exist. God will show you and guide you whenever the need to modify arises, but make sure you have a plan for everyone to circle their wagons around. This will ensure cohesion among team members and with your donor base.
Portraying honest confidence in the providence God has destined for your school or ministry is the deciding factor for many would-be donors.
2. Transition to transform.
Focus most on people who have the potential to give in a transformational way and improve your retention of giving over the long-haul. You have much opportunity in re-connecting donors who have given in the past as well as giving donors ongoing opportunities to shape the future of your ministry. Select a group of people as a priority for relationship building efforts. Report back to them on the impact of their past giving and help them understand the future plans that can be impacted by their future giving.
The old adage “work smarter not harder” holds true. All gifts are valuable and appreciated, but as the leader in development your time and efforts should be scheduled and set aside for those donors best positioned to move your ministry forward. This makes up your list.
Your assistant and development office volunteers are an asset for developing a thanking culture for remaining donors.
Every donation counts – so does how you designate your time. Do so wisely.
3. Go the distance.
Work to impact the two primary success indicators of the community of giving to your program.
First, you want to grow the total giving. You can do this through relationship building, better thanking and reporting, and clear and compelling requests to give that make an immediate difference in the day-to-day experience of people involved in and with your ministry.
God works through groups, so round yours up! I find setting goals over hundred day periods works best. Fire your team up – let them know the focus for the next ninety days give or take is for each to focus on their list to increase overall total giving.
What percentage would you like to see active donors increase their gifts by? Write it down. What number of new donors would you like added to your ministry’s ranks? Note it. What overall percentage of funding would ideally come from regained donors? Post it.
Set goals and watch as your ministry achieves them! People rise to the bar set before them.
The second key indicator to address is the total number of long-term giving commitments. This is where planned giving discussions will be increasingly important. As donors understand your vision and plans, and the levels of commitment it will take, you can explore with them opportunities to impact your future through near-term pledges and long-term planned gifts.
Block time weekly on your calendar for these specific conversations. If you want giving to be a commitment to your potential donors, their opportunity for face-to-face with you must be apparent.
People are approachable when they feel appreciated.
4. Direct dialogue.
In the next year, select 10-25 people to invite to learn more about planned giving opportunities and to enter into that dialogue with you and your team.
While there are many things you could do, focus on the most impactful things you must do.
God granted us free will. We live in a world more connected than ever before in any time in history. People are keenly aware…too much so…of all the secular realm wants and asks of them, of what it can offer.
Purpose must be presented. Priority must be pushed.
We are learning that organizations who successfully get started with planned giving introduce selected donors to carefully vetted experts on planned giving opportunities, so that donors can learn about the options available to them.
As always, I look forward to hearing what you’ve done with this. I’d love to receive your questions and feedback!
If you found this information to be helpful to you in propelling your ministry forward, you may also be interested in using our Rapid Success Projects tool.