Guest Blogger- Steven Shattuck
Ask any fundraising consultant worth their salt what they think is the fundraising activity that produces the most ROI (return on investment) and they’ll all say the same thing.
It’s not major gifts
(though they’re a very valuable activity).
It’s not direct mail
(though it still works).
It’s not events
It’s bequest marketing.
But in order to do send out bequest marketing material, you need to know who to send it to. It can be tempting to isolate your wealthiest or even oldest donors, but you might be missing those most likely to leave you a charitable bequest.
In his newsletter and countless presentations, the late, great Jerry Panas, espoused his list of the 13 best characteristics of a planned giving prospect. Here were his top three:
1. Length of giving to your organization (5 or more years of regular giving).
Long-term loyals, regardless of gift amount, represent your cream of the crop donors. They are literally the most important segment of your donor database. Given average retention rates in the sector, for a donor to have given to you for five or more years is quite rare; they likely care deeply about the cause you serve and have confidence in your programs and services.
2. Giving to you over a long period of time (giving may not be year after year, but gifts have been made over a long, extended period of time).
Even if donors miss a year or two over the course of five or ten years of regular giving, they should still be considered loyal. Just because you consider a donor to be lapsed doesn’t mean that they do. Sometimes life gets in the way and priorities change. Don’t write off donors as “flakey” or “inconsistent.” Donors give on their own time, and that rarely aligns with your fiscal year calendar.
3. Frequency of giving (monthly credit card donors, or those who give more than once a year).
Your monthly donors should get extra special attention, even if they’re only giving $5 or $10. Their lifetime value is high, as is their likelihood to leave you a gift in their will (7x more than non-recurring donors). Consider sending bequest marketing materials once a year once they’ve reached their second year of sustained giving.
Remember- the hidden gems in your donor database are those signaling their loyalty and affection, not necessarily their capacity or previous giving history. To lose any of them would be quite a blow to your planned giving pipeline! Join us on August 7th for our next workshop, A Beginner’s Guide to Uncovering the Hidden Donor Prospects in Your Database.
Steven Shattuck curates Bloomerang’s sector-leading educational content, and hosts their weekly webinar series which features the top thought-leaders in the nonprofit sector. Recipient of the David Letterman Scholarship, Steven graduated with honors from Ball State University in 2006 with a degree in Telecommunications and Creative Writing.