Blog Categories
Past Posts

Building a Planned Giving Program from Ground Up

At some point, each nonprofit organization should have a Planned Giving Program. The question is, when is the right time to get started in asking donors to consider naming your nonprofit in their will or trust?

I think Planned Giving logically follows the annual fund. As your annual fund grows, maybe by the fifth year, and you have a newsletter in place, it’s the right time to make your nonprofit a beneficiary. It helps, too, to have an estate planner on your board. A person with expertise in writing wills or working with financial institutions in creating trust documents that can protect assets from probate. It’s very important to identify an experienced attorney in this area. Some States have Estate Planning Councils, and some States have persons certified to prepare such documents.

If your donor requests some help in this regard, you can provide some language to recommend for inclusion in the person’s will. I do not recommend that the nonprofit get involved in recommending specific attorneys to write wills. there should be an “arm’s length” relationship between the donor and the nonprofit so there is no conflict of interest that can call the ethics or even the legality of a document into question.

But if you look at newsletters of universities, hospitals, and voluntary health organizations you will see ads or articles on this subject with recommendations that the individual follow up with a person in the development office for advice on how to proceed. Your nonprofit may not have a development office. But you can have a volunteer attorney with estate planning experience who can assist you properly and help guide donors in a proper and ethical way.

There are other kinds of options to investigate, like charitable remainder trusts that can be beneficial to the donor and to the nonprofit. There are specialists in this area who can advise you on how to implement a program. My suggestion is, as your fundraising/development effort matures you should install a Planned Giving program. Recruiting the proper advice will help to you avoid pitfalls that can sour a relationship with an important donor.

Post to Twitter


Leave a Reply