Starting a Planned Giving Program? Avoid These Common Mistakes

educational training

1. Poor Donor Cultivation

Planned Giving provides a unique opportunity for the organization to build a foundation of support from donors who share a connection with the organization’s mission. However, leadership must develop a clear strategy concerning how they will build and sustain donor relationships. Planned gifts generally materialize when there are concentrated efforts to cultivate existing and new relationships.

2. Not Investing in Donor Research

In the long run, the dividends an organization receives from its planned giving efforts can make a significant impact. The planned giving program can also be the difference that keeps the doors open when other funding sources fall short. However, planned giving is an investment of time, and donor research is one of the necessary time commitments. The organization must take the time to research and educate a large pool of prospects.

3. Lack of Program Visibility

Everyone in the nonprofit organization must be on board with promoting planned giving opportunities. The nonprofit’s planned giving program should be mentioned to existing and prospective donors at every function, on the organization’s website, in every donor newsletter, and during every donor visit.  If the nonprofit organization does not champion its planned giving program, no one else will.

4. Lack of Technical Knowledge

Planned gifts are generally substantial and formulated through complex estate planning arrangements. It is important that staff members receive proper training and development or hire outside consultants to assist with the technical aspect of the planned giving program.   Planned giving staff members should receive training on estate planning, financial planning and federal income taxation in order to present themselves confidently before prospective donors.

5. Unreasonable Expectations

Planned giving is a means to achieve a better financial future for the organization. Planned giving is about the future, not the present. Leadership must approach planned giving from a different mindset. Leadership must accept the reality of not seeing a payoff from its efforts for a long time, possibly years. However, because of the expected longevity in receiving a planned gift, the organization can set higher acceptance thresholds. For instance, the organization may require a certain dollar minimum or value before it accepts a certain type of gift. The longer the horizon before the charity receives the gift, the higher the minimum donation requirement.

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