Wills and Trusts (Planned Gifts) can be significant sources of revenue for your nonprofit organizations. It all starts with the right approach to your donors. How do you broach the subject: “Please remember us in your will.”
One place to start is in your newsletter. I recommend that you have a short paragraph or two in an easy-to-find place that lets your supporters know they can approach a designated person on your team who, at their request, will advise them on how to go about identifying your nonprofit as a beneficiary in their will or trust.
Who is the right person associated with your nonprofit to provide this service?
If you have a qualified, full-service development director who has experience in this area you are all set.
But not all nonprofits are so blessed.
My suggestion is that your nominating committee recruit an estate planner to become a member of your board. And if not a board member, then perhaps a member of your development committee. This is a person who will talk with your donors on a pro bono basis, advising them on language they should ask their attorney to insert in their will or trust.
Further, you might have the name of three to five attorneys at local law firms who are qualified estate planners who will welcome referrals if a donor contacts your office seeing an attorney to help them write a will. I strongly advise that no one associated with your nonprofit prepare the document for your donor. This is (in my view) a conflict of interest.
I also recommend that you take a look at my post of January 23, 2012 “Simple Plan to Start a Planned Giving Program” for more tips on getting this revenue stream going for your organization.
Scrolling through Twitter this evening, I came to a post from @DeniseWakeman: The path is the goal – Buddhist Saying. This stopped me short. Made me think. Why am I getting a ring of truth from this? I did a Google search of the title and found the title of a book by Chodyam Trongpa. A Short book on Buddhist meditation. The essence: Meditation is the way into finding answers to life’s big questions.
The parallel that rings true for me is an analogy with relationship fundraising in the nonprofit realm. To help secure commitment from donors to the nonprofit mission, we need to facilitate the connection. This takes investment in building a relationship. A little meditation won’t hurt.
At the start of class meetings in the Northeastern University MS Leadership program, I turn down the classroom lights, ask students to close their eyes and to become fully present in the here and now. Right here. Right now. Something I learned from Yoga. The good Yogi take the first five minutes of Yoga class…to get us quiet, close our eyes, breathe with thought, and excise all unnecessary thoughts from consciousness. To be fully present in this moment, ready to practice.
I find that this helps my students in my Leadership and Nonprofit Management classes disregard their Smart phones and laptops and get right with what we are considering in that time we have together.
I encourage friends who lead nonprofits to get board meetings, staff meetings off to this kind of start. To clear the mind of the extraneous and be fully present. Right here. Right now.
I encourage you to take a Yoga class. To dissolve in the experience. And to consider that sense of mindfulness as a goal for how you engage friends, volunteers, staff, donors, the people you serve. The path is the goal.
Most nonprofits have wrapped up or are wrapping up their holiday appeal. Most of these direct mail (or, more inclusively, “direct response”) campaigns are run in November – December, with follow-up in January – February. Increasingly, nonprofits recruit board members to conduct a personal solicitation component of the holiday appeal to high-level and “special handling” donors. This usually adds significantly to the dollars raised. A recent client conducted an e-mail component and raised revenue 20% over the previous year.
Now is a good time to consider an Extra Contribution or “Extra Mile” campaign. Nonprofits identify donors who did gave, perhaps early in the annual appeal (November) and ask that these donors consider going the “extra mile” and adding to their gift. Nonprofit staff and volunteer leadership need to feel comfortable taking this step. It’s possible that some donors will be turned off by this approach. In my experience, there is a significant number of donors who will consider doing more for your mission if you make a good case.
Your case for an Extra Contribution should be 100% focused on those who rely on the service you provide.
And of course, you have already thanked your donors at least once for their recent annual appeal gift. It’s a good idea to start the appeal letter with another “thank you.” To clearly acknowledge that your nonprofit and your clients (I refer to them as primary customers) appreciate what your donors have done. But there are unmet needs. And you will note one or two of these: the number of clients who need to be served but aren’t because there isn’t quite enough in the cupboard to get the job done.
Give it some thought. Talk it over. Let your development committee know what you’re considering and ask for their feedback.
The potential is there to add another 10% to annual appeal revenue. Food for thought.
Is your Nonprofit outgrowing your current Board? Does it seem no matter what you do, there is a lack of zip from most Board members?
It’s a tricky proposition to achieve Board development, even as the Nonprofit is evolving. We want to build capacity for our Nonprofit to better deliver the mission, and generate revenue that makes this possible.
Here are a few suggestions to get things moving in the right direction:
– You need at least two or three members of the current Board who get the need for change and are willing to work to make this happen.
– The chair of the Board needs to be an ally who will work with a core Board group and the Executive Director to get things moving in the right direction.
– At the next Board meeting, be totally transparent with what is happening: A recruitment effort supported by the Chair and led by a committee (Governance? Nominating?) appointed by the Chair to identify candidates, interview them, ask for resumes, work with a job description that accurately lets qualified candidates know where this is going and what is expected.
Some candidates may not agree to join the Board. Perhaps they will serve on a committee. This gives them a chance to get to know you and the organization. If commitment develops with this approach you can build a cadre of Board prospects starting with committee appointments.
This is hard work, and requires more effort than just the Executive Director.
Here we are in the days before Christmas. Staff party is all set. Hanukkah is happening for those of us of the Jewish faith. We have gifts for the mailman, the paperboy, the person who cuts our hair.
How about the Board? Some of us are lucky and have a Board member or three who send special treats for the staff to share. Now it’s time (hopefully not too late!) to return the favor and send a thoughtful something to our Board members. Thanking them for their service.
It could be something as simple as a greeting card. No doubt that will be appreciated. But maybe we can do something a bit more. We could get a few bud vases and deliver a small arrangement to members’ homes. We could invite Board members to our staff party. We could host an end-of-day reception just for them.
Something to let our leading volunteers to know they are appreciated.
Is there time do do something?