Carol Pollack from Planning and Endowment Consulting had a great idea to add to yesterday’s post.
Carol Pollack from Planning and Endowment Consulting had a great idea to add to yesterday’s post.
….Just a cute reminder. Print it out and hold it in front of the mirror.
So you probably won’t see much of the fruits of your labor. And, years from now, someone else will probably get the credit for your hard work and smart strategic planning.
But we’re not bummed-out, are we? Even if the seeds you plant and have already planted might not benefit the organization you serve for 10 to 20 years (or more)… and even if you won’t get the credit for a good bit of your hard work… you and me… we love planned giving!
My hat goes off to everyone in the planned giving community every day.
Seth Godin is pretty smart. He really understands marketing.
In his recent blog post he discusses why we should sometimes avoid “easy leads” and, rather, seek to qualify our leads more vigorously. But when it comes to planned giving marketing, I feel that what he’s talking about and what we’re doing are very different.
First let me point out that my firm used to be a bare-knuckle marketing “hired gun” for some of the toughest businesses in the Washington, DC region. Back then we were mostly doing hardcore lead generation. One of our clients was a home improvement company. For them, we had to find ways to find “highly qualified” leads. The cost of sending someone out to a home to quote on a job that averaged only $3,000-$10,000 was just too high. So, we tested adding questions to our surveys on landing pages. Then we arranged for telephone calls to follow up on every lead (to ensure that both decision-makers of the household were present before sending a sales rep out the door). Then just before the sales person left to go meet them, again we’d confirm that all the decision-makers would be present.
Now, for our marketing planned gifts, the “sale” is very different. We’re not selling a product but rather a life choice and a large investment. We’re aiming to help people align their legacy mission with that of the nonprofit we serve. So we need to widen the funnel a lot. Then we need to cultivate the relationships (possibly for many years) with financial/educational information, mission-oriented information and conversion-oriented options (to get folks to raise their hands) because:
1- You never know which ones of these leads are just tire-kickers and which ones will leave a gift. Some people might say they will not leave a gift only because they don’t want phone calls. They just want to be anonymous.
2- For most folks it’s a HUGE jump forward to request this information at all. By doing so they are moving from the avoidance stage to the consideration stage of a very long and emotional, non-measured (even erratic) decision-making process. Considering the fact that over 50% of Americans never create a will at all, the fact that they are requesting this information is simply tremendous. This point should not be overlooked and all of these leads should be treated like gold.
3- It takes time. Some people will act right away to make a legacy gift decision. But most people will skim the information an organization sends out in response to requests and soon put it all in a drawer. Hopefully it’s near their tax information or their legal stuff. But, yes… that’s right… it will probably sit in a drawer.
4- Here’s where the magic happens. When your organization takes the effort to remind these leads about the planned giving concept and seek ways to get them to educate themselves further about the benefits they would enjoy (for their soul and their pocket-book), something special happens. I know it’s time consuming and tedious. But the largest and most impactful gifts happen in the minds of your donors when you are not there. It’s a slow process. It requires frequency and repetition. It requires well-conceived messages. And it always must include easy ways for people to move to the next step in the consideration process. In planned giving marketing we must treat each lead as if it holds the potential for a $1 million gift. Cultivate a relationship with each one properly over time and, because it’s a numbers game, you WILL end up with boatloads of money for your organization.
5- Most importantly, this “sale” usually happens when no one from the organization is around. Simply stated, most folks don’t need to involve you and your staff in order to make this kind of gift/investment. That’s the hardest part to grasp but the critical reason why this “sale” is so different from what Seth Godin is talking about.
For more on the slow sale concept, read about the tortoise and the hare in planned giving marketing here.
For effective planned giving marketing, you really should be keeping track of your metrics. That’s because it’s not like traditional fundraising. You can’t send out a letter and count the dollars 6 weeks later. It just doesn’t work the same way.
I’ve seen some foolish things in planned giving marketing. But one of the worst mistakes you can make is to look at immediate revenue as your number one metric. Instead, since planned giving marketing involves a long-term fundraising strategy, you really need to measure “activities”… not dollars.
This has been proven effective in the private sector for enterprise-level sales (and you better believe that planned giving is an enterprise-level sale) where the best sales managers and marketing directors know that you shouldn’t only measure outcomes. Rather, you should measure activities. If the activities are happening and the numbers are going in the right direction, the revenue WILL follow. It works every time without fail.
Here are the activities we recommend you measure for effective long-term planned giving marketing:
1- Lead generation and disclosures
2- Awareness/reached Number of people reached with planned giving messages in the following:
3- Cultivation numbers Number of people nurtured with on-going messages multiplied by the frequency of those messages via:
4- Engagements With the right software, you can now track individual prospect engagement with your organization online including:
I’ve been thinking about all the different philosophies that people have when it comes to planned giving marketing. There are so many out there that it’s hard to know who really knows their stuff. There’s no consensus. And, I can honestly say that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” strategy. Each organization has to determine what works for them.
But one think I know is true for sure. You simply can’t beat doing things right. So that’s what lead me to create this little graphic that compares the tortoise and the hare in planned giving marketing.
Which one are you?
Recently someone told me that their organization doesn’t consider a planned giving lead to be a “real lead” unless someone is calling in or requesting specific information about how to definitely leave a gift.
In other words, the planned giving team felt that their job was to “procure” gifts that have already been decided upon.
It would be great if that’s how things worked. Then we wouldn’t need to market planned gifts. In fact, if that’s how the world worked, we wouldn’t have to market anything. People would never need to be sold. They’d never need to be inspired or persuaded.
But, of course, that’s not how it works. Folks, it’s all about engagement!
Planned giving marketing should inspire people to seek out more information. And when they do, your organization needs to engage with them. You need to meet them half-way. You need to learn about their unique story. Why do they care?
It’s best to do this face-to-face or on the telephone. But who has the time? If you do, use it to build personal relationships. If you don’t, use technology to build relationships. Use email, personal letters and social media to engage with your prospects.
Once someone raises their hand, if you don’t engage with them personally or with marketing tools because they aren’t definitely ready to leave a gift… then shame on you.
Keep in mind that many planned gifts come from people who have never donated to your organization. And the average planned gift floats around $50,000 depending on who you ask. Now— if you think people will leave that kind of money for your organization in their will without engagement… well… you’re nuts! When it comes to gifts that drop out of the sky… the engagement actually started a long time ago without your knowledge.
So, if you’d like many MORE people to leave gifts, then you’d better engage with donors and non-donors alike.
Bottom line: Get people to raise their hands (lead generation). Then engage with them (cultivation) using polite, persistent, donor-centric marketing messages over time. Planned giving marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Between 2000 and 2050 $12 trillion is expected to go to charity in the form of bequests.
That’s $12 TRILLION!
Or, 12,000 X ONE BILLION.
Imagine a pile of a billion dollars. Now imagine 12,000. Hard to do, huh?
Here’s some help thanks to Susan DameGreene’s website. A six inch pile of $1,000 bills equals $1 million dollars. Stack those piles as high as the Washington Monument and you get $1 trillion dollars. So you’d need twelve of those to envision $12 trillion dollars.
All that is going to charity. But how much will go to your charity? Now— that depends on how much time and effort you spend promoting planned giving.
In commercial business, we call it the 80/20 rule.
80% of your revenue and/or profits will come from 20% of your clients.
It’s the same in fundraising. As long as you communicate with your donors, you’ll get more revenue from them.
Most non-profits spend a ton of money on acquisition when it’s really the core segments of your database that will deliver the greatest returns for your marketing dollars— especially in the form of planned gifts.