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3 Reasons for a Planned Giving Program By Kimberly Jetton, MNM, CFRE

Updated: Feb 18, 2023


Any organization that has been in operation for a significant amount of time can hopefully point to at least one large and transformational gift. Odds are those gifts came in the form of a bequest or planned gift from an individual or family who felt a deep connection with each respective organization. In fact, it is widely accepted that the largest gift a nonprofit will ever realize will be from a planned gift. Why, then, is it difficult to garner support from leadership or the board of nonprofits to invest in a planned giving program?


The most likely answer is that time, effort and resources should first and foremost be given to immediate cash gifts to keep operations going. This decision, however, ends up being a costly proposition down the road as those larger gifts requiring appropriate stewardship will likely not come to fruition. How do you convince leadership to invest in and adequately support a planned giving program? Here are three suggestions to consider when garnering support for this critical yet often overlooked component of an overall development program.


1. We are in the midst of the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen. If your organization is not actively inviting and stewarding your donors to make a planned gift, be assured that someone else is. Each day, over 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 and this will continue for years to come. The assets held by these donors far exceed the generations to follow by 50%. Inviting your dedicated donors and supporters in this demographic to give through their estate plans is imperative to your organization’s long-term fiscal stability. By securing bequests and other planned gifts now, your organization will begin realizing substantial gifts within 5 to 10 years. The average bequest in the U.S. is between $35,000 and $70,000. The greater your bequest reservoir grows, the steadier your income flow becomes in less than a decade.


2. Planned gifts do not only encompass bequests, though bequest giving makes up the vast majority of them. Planned giving also may include current gifts of assets, such as gifts of stock, IRA distributions, Donor Advised Funds and other non-cash assets. In addition to deferred giving, current gifts of assets can significantly boost your organization’s bottom line in the short term. Annual giving actually increases with a robust planned giving program in place.


3. Bequest giving also causes your donors to appreciate your partnership in their philanthropic efforts. Not only are more deeply committed to your organization, they offer you the opportunity to steward them better for smarter ways to give from assets instead of cash. Imagine receiving a check from a donor for $10,000. Using a planned/current asset giving mindset, your organization could call that donor and ask if they have $10,000 in appreciated stock to give instead of cash, thus offering the benefit of both income tax savings as well as bypassing the capital gains tax appropriated should the donor otherwise sell that stock. You become a valuable partner in that donor’s giving strategies because you helped your donor save in taxes. More importantly, your donor will see your organization as a leader of good stewardship and resource management.


Bequest giving also causes your donors to appreciate your partnership in their philanthropic efforts. Not only are more deeply committed to your organization, they offer you the opportunity to steward them better for smarter ways to give from assets instead of cash. Imagine receiving a check from a donor for $10,000. Using a planned/current asset giving mindset, your organization could call that donor and ask if they have $10,000 in appreciated stock to give instead of cash, thus offering the benefit of both income tax savings as well as bypassing the capital gains tax appropriated should the donor otherwise sell that stock. You become a valuable partner in that donor’s giving strategies because you helped your donor save in taxes. More importantly, your donor will see your organization as a leader of good stewardship and resource management.

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