Is Timing Everything? Donor Strategy for Planned Gift Marketing | npENGAGE

Is Timing Everything? Donor Strategy for Planned Gift Marketing

By on Dec 14, 2012


It seems like every fundraising effort has a beginning and an end – that is, until we begin to talk about planned gifts. Think about it.

  • Annual giving efforts start at the beginning of your organization’s fiscal year and end on the last day.
  • Major gift programs may operate annually or have a somewhat longer life.
  • Special events may have the life of a single day (at least to your participants).
  • Direct response efforts at some organizations, have a life-expectancy of only a week or two before they’re considered “concluded”.

Planned gifts seem to have no natural rhythm – externally or internally. In reality, however, there are times in the year when they make sense to promote. Here are the ones that seem right to me:

  • Tax time – March and April
  • Summertime and before vacations – June through August
  • End of year – November and December

These seem like natural times to think about and discuss estate planning. After all, without the estate planning seed, no giving-trees bear fruit. These are excellent periods of time to reach out to your planned giving pool of prospects to share “ways-to-give” instructions and “Gifts from a Legacy” stories.

If you’ve been collecting data on marketing responses and planned gift expectancies, you can analyze it to see if there are other times during the year that resonate with your organization’s constituents. Data analysis doesn’t need to complicated and weighty, and if now is a slower time for your department, run a few reports before year-end. If it’s busy at your office, schedule this task for another time – maybe summer and look at your data then. Either way, your marketing success and face-to-face visits calendar can benefit from understanding when it’s a strategic time to talk about planned gifts.

Happy holidays and joyful data revelations!


Katherine Swank, JD, senior consultant at Target Analytics, a Blackbaud Company, helps nonprofits apply statistical analytics and donor research to their fundraising efforts with an emphasis on planned gifts. She has raised nearly $250 million for mission funding during her nonprofit development career. Katherine is a retired affiliate faculty member of Regis University’s master of Global Nonprofit Management degree program, where she taught courses on wealth and philanthropy.  Along with writing for publications like Advancing Philanthropy and Philanthropy Journal, she is also a frequent presenter for industry conferences such as NACGP, AFP, APRA, and bbcon. Having grown up in a tourist destination in Colorado, Katherine has become an avid world traveler and is exploring her way through the 1,000 places to see before you die, albeit slowly.  Connect with her on Twitter @KatherineSwank.

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