Pulling the best list for planned giving marketing is not easy. Planned giving targets are not the same as major gift targets. They are unique because almost anyone can leave a bequest to your organization.
There are several vendors that can mine your data to add wealth qualifiers and affinity codes to your list. By doing so, they will attempt to tell you who your most likely planned giving donors will be. Some organizations have also used modeling methods with a certain degree of success.
Be judicious when employing these tactics. Studies have found that data mining and wealth qualification practices are not always the only ways to build a qualified list of planned giving targets.
An article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy (April 1, 2009 – New Research Sheds Light On Bequest Giving. http://philanthropy.com/article/article-content/63059/) cited several studies and noted that people who did not have children or grandchildren were, in fact, the most likely to make charitable bequests. Data mining tools do not (or cannot) take into account this tremendous list qualifier. Although some have found that the absence of children is not a predictor of the likelihood of a gift but, rather, a predictor of the relative size of a gift.
The Stelter Company described the following in their report titled “Discovering the Secret Giver” (http://www.stelter.com/pdfs/SecretGiver.Q-A.pdf):
• Most people create wills before age 50
• 7% of Americans over 40 put nonprofits in their will, and another 10% of Americans are good prospects because they say they will definitely, or probably, make a bequest to a charity at some point in time.
Stelter also found some key information that defies conventional wisdom, such as:
• People who have left bequests tend to be younger (65% are age 40-54)
• They are not well educated (45% have only a high school education)
And the most interesting nugget of information that makes wealth qualification tools somewhat less necessary:
• People who have left a bequest earn less than originally thought (70% have a household income under $99,999)
Furthermore, PlannedGiving.com cited similar findings in an online white paper titled “Planned giving marketing secrets revealed” (http://www.plannedgiving.com/blog/wpcontent/uploads/2007/05/pgsecrets.pdf). They recommend “institutional loyalty” above age and wealth as a necessity for list qualification. In other words, those who make frequent contributions or regularly participate in events exhibit “institutional loyalty,” and are more likely to leave a bequest (regardless of their age or size of their nest egg).
Clearly, defining your list for a planned giving marketing effort is not easy.