[PODCAST] Three Steps to Master Planned Giving | Ft. Tony Martignetti

“Part of what scares nonprofits [about planned giving] is they feel they’re talking about death. And if you were talking about death, then it would be scary. But that’s not the way to go about this. You’re talking about the person’s lifetime and beyond lifetime support for your organization.” — Tony Martignetti, Host of Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio

Asking for donations is intimidating on its own. Doubling it with wills and bequest letters? Cringe-worthy. But in this 20th episode of the Nonprofit Hubcast, guest Tony Martignetti tells us it doesn’t have to be. With the right tips and a solid plan, you can set up a planned giving program today.

Martignetti talks about planned giving being a scary topic. Nonprofits tend to put off planned giving because it seems complicated. When we think of planned giving, so often we think of lawyers, accountants, legal documents, research and all of the things that sound time consuming and expensive. But setting up your first planned giving effort can be relatively smooth and painless with the right direction. 

Three Steps of Planned Giving

  • The first step is research. You need to be informed. Do some basic research on what planned giving is, and you’re already looking in the right place.
  • The second step is writing. Writing never goes out of style. So it’s important to get to it. Draft a little blurb explaining why people should remember your organization. We’re talking 4-5 sentences with your name, tax ID and address. Now that your planned giving program is off the ground and running, it’s time to get it out there.
  • The third step is to publish. Create a page on your website for planned giving or make a flyer or a colorful brochure with all the information about just how easy it is for donors to get involved. Anything that gets the word out.

Planned giving is not as scary as it may seem, and it doesn’t have to be hard. A lot of people think that you’re talking about death when it comes to planned giving but the truth is that it’s about leaving a legacy and being part of something bigger.


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Transcript:

RANDY:
Hello listeners! We’ve hit the big 2-0! Check out the other 19 episodes at nphub.org/hubcast. Welcome to our podcast that’s dedicated to making your ears happy, your job easier and your nonprofit more remarkable.

I’m your host, Randy Hawthorne, Executive Director of Nonprofit Hub, an educational resource for nonprofits. You can learn what we’re all about over at nonprofithub.org. There, you’ll find all of the education we provide in podcasts, classes, webinars, a print magazine, and online articles that are published throughout the week.

For this edition of the Hubcast, we’re talking with Tony Martignetti, a New York-based nonprofit consultant. Tony delivers nonprofit fundraising solutions in Planned Giving and Charity Registration, designed for program growth and he hosts his own podcast called Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio.

While we talk to Tony and get his advice, I’ll also be sharing some tips. We have easy steps for you to follow and with Tony’s help, we know you can do it.

MUSIC:
Sleepy Eyed Thoughts by Bernardus

RANDY:
I have with me today, Tony Martignetti and he’s going to talk to us about planned giving. And I know it’s something our audience might be a little bit scared about. So, Tony, could you just give us a basic 101, what is planned giving?

TONY:
These are gifts that people make from their estate plan or their retirement plan and so they’re long term gifts for nonprofits. And Randy, you’re right on the mark. A lot of organizations are intimidated. And they don’t need to be. There’s a lot that small and mid-sized shops can do with planned giving. You don’t need expertise, I’m debunking that myth all the time.

RANDY:
Right, so if someone is potentially interested in this and they’re over the fear-factor, what are some first steps that they can take?

TONY:
You start a planned giving program by encouraging bequests. The simple gift in someone’s will. That’s the most popular kind of planned gift, it always will be. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a university, a gift by will is the most popular kind of gift you’re going to get and so that’s the place to start your marketing. There’s tons of things you can do that are so easy! Drop a buck slip into a mailing that you’re already sending, like a little third of a page that says, “Include us in your will, here’s our tax ID, legal name and address. Please share this with your attorney. Thanks so much.” You know, four or five sentences. It’s that simple. Drop it into an event if you have an event coming up. Somebody who’s speaking can just, again like 4-5 sentences, “We’ve kicked off planned giving, please include us in your will, the director of development is over against the wall there and you can talk to her. Please think about us in your long-term plans. That’s it! It’s so simple and for those kinds of easy gifts, a bequest in someone’s will, as I said, you don’t need expertise. You just encourage people to think about it and then they go to their attorney.

RANDY:
And why do you think nonprofits should even decide to get into this?

TONY:
Because their competitors are. There are tens of thousands of organizations, maybe hundred of thousands, actively promoting planned gifts all the time. Universities are very big in this, certainly not limited to universities, but every one that’s been around for more than 20 years has a planned giving program and they are marketing it to their alumni and so you’ve got a lot of competition. When the person goes to their attorney to write, or revise their will, you want them to be thinking about you, as well as all of your competitors.

RANDY:
And how would you compare this to maybe some other asks? Would you feel this is an easier ask, how does it compare to other donations you might be getting as an organization?

TONY:
Part of what scares nonprofits is they feel they’re talking about death. And if you were talking about death, then it would be scary. But that’s not the way to go about this. You’re talking about the person’s lifetime and beyond lifetime support for your organization. If you’re talking to the right people about planned giving, then you’re talking to committed donors. People that are already giving to you, year-after-year and they’ve been doing that for a long time. And they don’t have to be major donors. If they’ve been giving you $20 a year and they’ve done that for 10 of the past 12 years, or 15 or 18 of the past 20 years, then they are a great prospect for a planned gift. So if you’re talking to the right people, you’re not, well you never talk about death. When you have the right person in the room, when you’re mailing to them or emailing them, you’re not talking about a gift at death. You’re talking about how a long-term gift is going to continue the work that they are already supporting now. So you want to avoid that fear of having the death conversation, because that’s not what planned giving is about.

RANDY:
So, again, we’ve touched on this a little but our small to mid-size nonprofit exec listeners are trying to get through this year’s fundraising. Do you have any suggestions or tips for how they might, outside of putting something in the mailing or those passive asks, how they might get a program up and going?

TONY:
First, start listening to Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio because that is my weekly podcast and it is produced by me for small and mid-sized charities. That’s who I have in mind as I pick the brains of experts every single week and planned giving has certainly been among the topics we’ve talked about. The podcast is not limited to planned giving, by any means, but it’s all things that I think small and mid-sized shops struggle with. So, there’s your first step. You have to start listening to Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. After that, you find those potential donors who are committed the way I said earlier and are ignoring the gift side but are looking for gift-giving consistency. And you’re looking for them to be about 55 and older. And then you do some really simple marketing. Like I mentioned, drop a buck slip in your next mailing. It doesn’t cost you anything. You’re already producing the mailing, just drop the slip in. Like I said, mention an event. Make it part of an email blast that you’re sending, a little sidebar. We’ve kicked off a planned giving program, we’d love to have you include us in your will. Here’s our legal name, tax ID and address. Another easy marketing tip: next time you produce a run of envelopes, maybe it’s for your next mailing or for you to have in inventory, on the back flap of the envelope, a little check-off box. Send me information about including your organization, your name, in my will. That’s it. Keep it simple. Not will or trust or life insurance or estate plan. Don’t try to go so broad in the beginning. Stick with wills. A little check-off on the flap. You’re already producing the envelope, it doesn’t cost you anything to put a little box on the back flap where everybody’s got to look and lick. Let them check that off, easy marketing.

RANDY:
How do you become versed enough to be able to talk to donors about these options?

TONY:
Well, again. In the first three years or so, and you might go longer, I would encourage you to talk about bequests. And there you’re just encouraging the person to think about the idea and then they meet with their attorney to carry it out, to actually put your charity in a bequest paragraph in their will. So you don’t need the expertise. And for small to mid-sized shops, you might start and stop your planned giving program with charitable bequests, a gift in someone’s will. You might end there. And that’s very respectable as a planned giving program. As a full program, all you’re doing is encouraging bequests and you’re not leaving that much on the table because as I’ve said a couple times, bequests are the most popular kind of planned gift, regardless of what your charitable mission is. So you’re not leaving a lot of gifts behind because 75 to 80 percent of planned gifts are those gifts by will. So you may never go beyond bequests and that is perfectly respectable.

RANDY:
Even to just start making some of those passive asks, like you said checking a box on the back of an envelope, you’re light years ahead of a lot of nonprofits your size, probably.

TONY:
I think that’s true because as I mentioned earlier, very regrettable, are intimidated by planned giving. They consider it a black box. They think they need a ton of expertise, they think they need a lawyer on staff, or on their board, none of that is true. You don’t!

RANDY:
Now, let’s say we’re on a board and we’re starting to get these gifts that we probably didn’t even know about, what do you do with planned gift money?

TONY:
Some of it is restricted, so you don’t have a choice. You have to execute the donor’s wishes. But a lot of planned gifts, especially bequests, are unrestricted. So when that cash comes in, it’s wide open to you. And I do encourage my clients to put as much of it as they can into endowments. Either starting an endowment or building an endowment and I know that’s hard to do, you have to keep the lights on and the salaries paid, but as much as you can, I would encourage you to put those unrestricted dollars in endowment. You will be grateful and so will your successors. And I really do think that we have a responsibility to think about the organization indefinitely, not just for the time that we’re there.

RANDY:
I so appreciate you saying that. And I think we’re getting smarter as a nonprofit group that we see how endowments can be so beneficial to the future of the causes we care about.

TONY:
Yeah, there’s so much talk about sustainability but I don’t hear enough people drilling down about what does that mean and I think that part of healthy sustainability is having an endowment.

RANDY:
Thank you so much, Tony. This has been certainly enlightening to me and I’m guessing those folks that are listening that are just starting to think about planned giving and these are some great starting points

MUSIC:
Sleepy Eyed Thoughts by Bernardus

RANDY:
That’ll do it for this episode of the Hubcast. Thanks again to Tony for talking with us about some of the things he has learned through his experiences working with nonprofits. There was plenty of knowledge and marketing tips to go around proving just how easy it is for your nonprofit to start working with planned giving.

Our featured artist on this episode is Bernardus and their song Sleepy Eyed Thoughts. You can hear more of their music at bernardus music dot com.

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  • Gnosis Media Group

    Great post with good supporting data! When I think of “planned giving,” I immediately think of “recurring donors.” What better example of planned giving than increasing your recurring donor base and not just going after the one-time donors? But nonprofits need a strategy for this.

    It’s great to acquire new donors. However, it’s even better, from a nonprofit growth perspective, to retain current donors. Facebook recently did a talk that showed the key to their growth was in user retention.

    The same is true for nonprofits. Retaining donors, getting them to come back again and again to give, is an essential element in growing your revenues and donor base. If you want growth, focus on donor retention, not just acquisition.

    We wrote a blog post on this subject as well. Read the full post here: https://www.gmg.cm/blog/getting-donors-is-good-but-retaining-donors-is-even-better