A great deal of confusion surrounds whom you should approach for planned gifts. So let’s begin by defining the types of people you will find in your database. Of course you cannot assume everyone has the capacity to make a planned gift or has any interest in planned giving. And it would be expensive to direct marketing messages to your entire list. So let’s breakdown your database as follows:
A suspect is a person who is in your database. That’s it. You can’t assume they have any capacity to make a planned gift or any interest in planned giving. They will remain a suspect until you learn about them.
A prospect is someone that you believe may have the ability to give and may have a high affinity for your organization. They may be worthy of targeting. But what really makes someone worthy of engagement? Time is limited. You can’t chase every prospect. You probably have a lot of names in your database. Perhaps those names have even been run through a qualification system to determine their income, net worth, frequency of giving or affinity level for your mission. But, prospects are not necessarily likely to leave a bequest.
Now we’re getting into a tricky area. While we have heard many directors of planned giving say, “I have more leads that I can handle,” we don’t believe that is really true. The very notion that they have too many leads tells us that these leads may not really be worth handling until they are truly vetted and qualified.
These are the people we all want to locate: more than a suspect, more than a prospect, and more than just a lead. This group has indicated interest in learning more about a financial instrument that could benefit them, their family and may also benefit your organization.
Ability to give
+ Affinity for your organization
+ You Know Who They Are
+ They Have Raised Their Hand, Indicating Interest
+ Considering a Gift
= Highly-Qualified Lead
They may have even told you their level of interest and/ or whether they have children. They may have indicated whether or not they’ve already left your organization a gift or that they’re considering leaving a gift (perhaps even including the timeframe for their decision-making process). With all that information, a planned giving officer should certainly be able to engage the person in a worthwhile discussion that could benefit both parties.