Note from ProspectResearch.com: Phyllis Freedman, an independent fundraising consultant, kindly agreed to write a guest post showcasing her planned giving and prospect research knowledge. You may visit her blog at http://www.smart-giving.com/plannedgivingblogger/blog/.
Identifying the right audience to receive planned giving marketing is one of the most challenging and most important things we do. It ranks alongside your offer and package as the factors most likely to result in success or failure of your effort. Audience selection is more effective when it is enhanced by rich donor-supplied information. Unfortunately, many organizations are not capturing donor-supplied information at all or in a disciplined way. To get started, here are three data elements you can capture to use as selection criteria for your planned giving marketing:
1. Title. Add a title checkbox to your reply cards that includes Mr. & Mrs., Mrs., Mr., Ms. and Miss. Ask your annual fund or direct mail team if they can add it to their solicitations, too, to quickly expand the collection of the information. If a donor uses the title “Miss” that tells you something both about her marital status and about her age, since Boomer women are more inclined to us Ms. If a donor checks Mrs. instead of Mr. and Mrs., and she’s of the Silent or WWII generation, it likely means she’s a widow. If she’s a Boomer, may mean that she and her husband simply have different giving interests and send donations separately but in either case, the information can be informative. Ms. almost certainly is a generational indicator. The other benefit of having a donor’s title on file is that it enables you to personalize your communication. Instead of ‘Dear Friend’ when you don’t know a title, you’ll be able to say “Dear Ms Freedman.” But be careful to distinguish between titles that are appended by third parties based on first name and titles that the donor supplies. Sometimes acquisition name comes to the direct mail program as “Bob” and would be appended as Mr. when it’s actually a Mr. and Mrs. That’s why donor-supplied information is so valuable.
2. Information requests. Individuals who request information from you via a checkbox on a planned giving reply slip or through your direct mail program tend to be good prospects for a closed gift—maybe not immediately after requesting the information but later, when the donor is ready. If someone requests a gift annuity illustration from you and you coded their record accordingly, twelve months later you can select all such individuals for follow up.
3. Solicitations. Your direct marketing team adds to each donor record a code that signifies that the person received a direct mail piece, whether or not the person responded. This practice is not uniformly followed with planned giving marketing pieces. Knowing that a prospect received a particular planned giving marketing piece and how often he or she was marketed to proves useful in analyzing your closed estates. How many donors making a legacy gift to you were receiving regular communication vs. how many received only one or two vs. how many received none? This information can inform your marketing planning.
Data capture is a discipline every planned giving program can and should undertake. Just take the first step and get started.