Viken D. Mikaelian, president of VirtualGiving, Inc. in Valley Forge, Pa., suggests getting down to business: Go into the office on a Saturday and start planning. But don't make a dramatic announcement to your boss on Monday morning. Play it cool and don't make him/her nervous, just highlight the fact that "everybody else is grabbing these gifts, it's time we got in line too."
Start with thanking those donors who already have put your organization in their will.
Mikaelian, who led a session on marketing planned giving programs during this year's National Conference on Planned Giving conference in Grapevine, Texas, recommends drafting a letter about how important the endowment is to your organization -- "not bequests, not planned gifts, but the endowment." Here are elements of the letter:
- Be sure to include specifics about dollar amounts, who's investing it, and how it helps your organization reach its goals every year. A board member or CEO should sign the letter and mail it to everyone who has given $100 or more for the past three years.
- Create a tag line to every annual-fund acknowledgement, such as, "Make a gift that costs nothing during your lifetime."
- During some down time, schedule a letter to consistent donors asking them if they have included your nonprofit in their wills, and including sample bequest language if they want to do so now.
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