Excellent article on establishing a planned giving program from Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. To the article I would add a caution and some encouragement for a slightly different slant. Planned Giving programs are struggling and have been for several years. The Tools and Techniques of Charitable Planning are no longer news. Donors have long since heard about them from other nonprofits and increasingly from the Philanthropic Advisors employed by banks, brokerages, and insurance companies. The field has tilted towards the forprofit advisors, leaving the planned giving officers, and National Committee on Planned Giving, struggling for a new direction. A better approach might be to think in terms of marketing to the affluent, regardless of whether the gift is an annual gift, a capital gift, a major gift, or a planned gift. Then ask how you can align your organization's mission and its core values with a donor education and appreciation program that will help donors work more effectively with advisors on the donor's "inspired legacy plans."
If your organization has a heart and soul, and a passionate commitment to treating each constituent as an end in herself or himself, and not as means to an end, then you are already at the leading edge, although no one has told you yet. I train both nonprofit and forprofit philanthropic advisors. When it comes to heads nodding when they read the last few sentences, it is the nonprofit dance majors, or the mythology majors, or the religion majors, or literature majors, who see immediately the point. The forprofit advisors find it more difficult, not only because their training may have centered on tax, or finance, but also because a big forprofit has to talk "vision and values" with all comers - with members of every group, community and sect, so long as they are money-laden. That can be hard - being encouraging about their vision and values to all comers, from all secular, political, and faith traditions. Candidly, it can feel sometimes like hypocrisy or like being a well trained professional at love itself, artfully providing a personal service. (Don't even say it; yes, I have been there. I am not proud of it, but I can't deny it. That was when I was young and foolish, though, and besides, I needed the money. As an English major down on his luck, what else could I do? All I had to too was shine the rich people on about their precious "vision" of a better world. Listening with big empathetic eyes to the self talk of the deluded. Nodding encouragingly and waiting for the bit when I could at their money. It was so easy and so lucrative. I wonder sometimes why I ever gave it up.) Much more valid, authentic, sincere, less forced, less like simony, if your organization and its donors share a common language of value, and think of one another as constituents, or colleagues, or as donor friends, or fellow alums, or as fellow congregants.
The Church of Latter Day Saints, Catholic Charities, Jewish Federation, Yale University, Cisturcian, a Women's Foundation, Giving to Asia, - good luck competing with Fidelity, Schwab, or Bank of America on high powered planning, credential ladened staff, efficient back office, or on tools and techniques. But what does that leave? Maybe vision, meaning, purpose, community, love, and hope, faith, wisdom, a nurturing environment in which a constituent might dwell and raise healthy children. A fitting place to contemplate death and legacy under the aspect of eternity. And guess what the hottest topic is in philanthropic planning? All that "touchy feely stuff" as the expert advisors tend to say with a shudder of disgust. "Discernment" they have been taught to call it, writing it down in their notebooks as a good hook for a sales process. Discernment, the wisdom of the ages, provides a competitive edge with High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs). Write that down. Want me to spell it? D-i-s-c-e-r-n-m-e-n-t. And yes, it will be on the exam.
Instead of aping advisors with tools and techniques, or providing high end discernment services to all comers, as if you were a salesperson, sit quietly, invoke whatever is most precious in your tradition, and reach out to your constituents to suggest they bear that shared trove of tradition in mind as they meet with advisors. Say you are willing to create a quiet space, among friends, where they can think this through, achieve discernment in a place they hold holy, rather than in a place of business. Then bring in the advisors, under your banner, and managed to the spirit of your organization and its reason for being. You will do much good for donors. Money will move in the spirit of community and higher purpose. And you will get your share because you stand for something the donor loves, and because you keep that special spirit alive, when the world seems bent on making money the measure of all things.