Is There More to Dollar Amounts in ”Metrics and Productivity Goals” for Planned Gift Professionals? | npENGAGE

Is There More to Dollar Amounts in ”Metrics and Productivity Goals” for Planned Gift Professionals?

By on Aug 23, 2011


I just read a post by one of the popular planned gift calculation product companies regarding common questions that they receive during planned giving program audits with their nonprofit clients.  The focal area called “Metrics and Productivity” is often a center-of-attention topic, they say, and the tug between raising deferred revenue and the need to increase current revenue inevitably comes into play.

“The first question a supervisor needs to ask,” the post suggests, “is what does success look like?”  In my experience this has been the proverbial $64,000 Question and the answer is too often a moving target.

I think we all innately understand that we need to recognize performance metrics other than current or deferred dollars raised.  The need to encourage planned giving professionals to make connections with those likely to make a planned gift is suggested.  With an incentive like this in place it might seem like an easy task to pull a list of qualifying prospects and get on the phone.  Yet, in reality, it’s not so easy.  Your list of likely prospects is probably long and confusing and you may wonder how to get started.

I’ve spent my development career pondering and tacking these very issues and I’ve provided some guidance in a few white papers published by Blackbaud.  If you want to increase activity goals such as the number of outbound phone calls, letters, and personal visits, I encourage you to read “How to Talk with Donors about Planned Gifts.”   It’s a compilation of phone and in-person conversation starters that I collected from some of the industry’s most successful planned gift professionals.  If, your goal is to encourage more donors of planned gifts to come forward and identify themselves, I’ve made some thought-provoking suggestions in “Peak Performance: Strategic Stewardship for Planned Giving Programs.”  Here, I suggest that you create an environment of inclusion and treat your suspected planned gift donors in a way that assumes they have already notified you of a gift.  Finally, if you’re interested in finding affluent planned giving prospects who have the ability to make transformational deferred gifts, you might like to read “Prospect Research for Planned Gifts: Using Predictive Donor Profiles, Wealth, and Asset Screenings to Identify High-End Planned Gift Prospects.”  It’s a two part paper that provides both your organization’s prospect research professional, if you have one, and the planned giving professional specific guidance in identifying high-ability deferred gift prospects within the organization’s ranks of donors and constituents.

No matter what your goal, thinking about and taking action to expand your “Metrics and Productivity” benefits everyone.  If you have thoughts or comments on my suggestions, let’s continue the conversation!  Comment on this blog and let me know what you think, what else you’re doing in this area and share those activities that have made you a successful planned gift professional.

By Katherine Swank, J.D., a Senior Consultant and planned gift professional at Target Analytics, a Blackbaud Company. You may reach her at

Katherine has over 30 years of experience in the fundraising industry as a consultant, development officer and advancement team manager. As a member of Blackbaud’s analytics consulting team for over a decade, she facilitates strategic, client-facing content for Blackbaud’s custom modeling, wealth screening, and prospect research solutions to enhance clients’ development efforts with data-driven strategies.  Before assuming this role, she served as the national director of gift planning at
the National Multiple Sclerosis Society home office. Katherine has raised over $200 million during her career. She is a past president of the Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable, a former lawyer and also served as an affiliation faculty member at Regis University where she taught development-related courses at the master’s level for more than 10 years. She is a frequent speaker at BBCON, NACGP, Apra, AFP and other industry conferences.

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