Dos and Don’ts for your Planned Giving Program

Well-executed planned giving programs can provide multiple benefits for their nonprofits, but they’re not without risks. Following some dos and don’ts can help you avoid those pitfalls:

  • Do conduct research. Before you suggest different planned giving instruments to your prospects (whom you also should research), you need to acquire a basic understanding of each type. Your financial expert can help get you up to speed.
  • Do treat the donors with special care. Major donors typically like to be recognized. In addition to your usual letter of appreciation, consider giving their donations prominent recognition in publications and other materials. You also could create a VIP donor group for planned gift donors, providing them with perks like special seating at events or invitations to leadership meetings.
  • Don’t ignore the cost. As you explore opportunities for planned gifts with your donors, make certain that you’ve evaluated the resources you need to manage these gifts. You may want to establish a planned giving policy that sets a minimum level for each type of gift.
  • Don’t provide legal or tax advice. Donors may ask for your input on legal or financial aspects of their gifts. You should politely refer them to the appropriate professional and, if they refuse to seek such advice, clearly document your attempts to encourage them to obtain advice.