PMA Consulting, LLC

You Do Have a Planned Giving Committee Don’t You?

Early in the session of a recent planned giving seminar, the speaker asked the attendees how many had full-time planned giving professionals representing their nonprofits. In a room with several dozen organizations represented, only a handful acknowledged having a full-time professional—someone spending the best hours of their day doing planned giving work. This was not surprising as most nonprofits, if doing planned giving at all, rely on a mixed bag of strategies to make up for the professional void.

Though better than nothing, planned giving is often relegated to a generic sentence affixed to the bottom of an annual fund letter. Sound familiar? “Have you considered putting [organization] in your will?” If having a paid professional seems like a luxury, imagine having an entire team working seamlessly toward your planned giving goals. For those doing it, it may feel like a luxury, but without the cost. This is one extravagance you should not be without; and with a little effort, it can be a reality.

So Who’s on the Team?

For the donor, the roles of attorney and financial planner are quite different. The estate and trust attorney adds value by counseling clients in the transfer of their estates and providing legal representation in their wills, complex trust and other planned giving instruments. The financial adviser often serves as the client’s trusted financial counselor and confidant while helping create and manage their financial goals. The client often goes to their financial adviser first before making significant financial and philanthropic decisions.

Estate attorneys are important to any successful planned giving effort; and more often than not, someone considering a planned gift for your organization will have a financial adviser on speed dial. Regardless of whether or not you have a planned giving pro on the payroll, imagine your organization working hand in hand with financial advisers and estate/trust attorneys as a team toward a focused, unified goal. By forming a ‘planned giving committee’ for your organization, you are providing a win for everyone involved.

Financial advisers and attorneys win by increased networking, cross professional partnerships and the real possibility of a future client funnel and pool. Your organization and donors win by doing what they are made to do – partnering together to achieve your organization’s goals (Frederick Buechner calls this: “the place where deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet”).

Both professional groups work for the client; but when the client becomes a prospective donor and he is represented by your organization’s team, you are laying the groundwork for a lifelong donor, client and fan of your organization.

Other reasons to form a planned giving committee:

  • Asset to your donors and prospective donors (team approach): Not everyone has a financial adviser or trust attorney on the hook. Your org will provide a trusted and valuable introduction and possible life-long relationship. Imagine the value and future impact for your organization.
  • Access to ‘friendly’ expertise in planned giving: Even full-time planned giving professionals must regularly stay on top of their craft. Your planned giving committee will help keep your organization abreast on things like the ever-changing tax code, annuity rates and what planned giving vehicles are working and not working at the present (e.g. a CRUT is not as popular of a device as it was 10 years ago).
  • Create a gift acceptance policy: Every nonprofit needs a gift acceptance policy—to save you from inheriting that old abandoned mine on the gift of land you just received that the EPA has been privately investigating. Nothing like having professionals draft this policy for your organization.
  • Review Prospect lists: What an asset it would be to have someone that evaluates financial viability for prospective clients for a living review your prospect list.
  • Prepare Articles for your planned giving newsletters: Over time your organization will carry great credibility by having professionals pen articles for your publications.
  • Built in (and unpaid) advocates for your organization: As they get to know and care about your organization they will become promoters as they network in their respective professional circles.
  • Pipeline for prospective donors: Attorneys and Financial Advisers have clients outside of your organization. If your organization has favor with these professionals, their clients could receive a favorable nod toward your organization when their clients desire or need to make a charitable gift.
  • Make your Organization Look Good!

Consider this: these roles are elevated even more when stood against the Model Standards of Practice for the Charitable Gift Planner established by the National Committee on Planned Giving and American Council on Gift Annuities. The sixth Standard of Practice states: CONSULTATION WITH INDEPENDENT ADVISORS: A gift Planner acting on behalf of a charity shall in all cases strongly encourage the donor to discuss the proposed gift with competent independent legal and tax advisors of the donor’s choice.