Redefining Campaign Success The Transformative Role of Planned Giving
Campaigns,Planned Giving Published Date, 2023

Redefining Campaign Success: The Transformative Role of Planned Giving

Created By: Amanda Nelson
October 23, 2023

As the campaign landscape continues to evolve and planned giving takes on a larger role in fundraising success, organizations of all shapes and sizes are aiming to bridge the gap between the two.

Historically, planned giving was often an afterthought in nonprofit fundraising strategies. However, as philanthropy has evolved and with the influence of shifting economic patterns, generational transitions, and innovative giving tools, planned giving has emerged as a powerful tool in modern fundraising. This shift offers organizations a golden opportunity to harness the transformative power of planned giving – if they’re equipped to leverage it.

I recently presented to the Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia on this topic, where our discussion centered around the pivotal role of planned giving in campaigns, highlighting how blended and planned gifts are fueling larger and more ambitious comprehensive campaigns for nonprofit organizations.

Despite the challenges of launching a campaign, it’s clear that the potential of planned giving is unmatched. Whether you’re gearing up for a large-scale campaign or just beginning to explore your options, understanding current trends and adopting best practices is key. As we navigate this evolving landscape, here are several insights to guide your path forward.

The Growing Significance of Planned Giving.
  • Economic Shifts and Donor Behavior: With today’s economic uncertainties, donors are becoming more conservative with their liquid assets. Additionally, with only 3% of U.S. household wealth in cash, this indicates that a significant portion of donor potential lies in non-cash assets such as real estate and equities.
  • Impending Wealth Transfer: We’re at a pivotal juncture, with the greatest wealth transfer in history on the horizon. An estimated $68-$84 trillion is expected to move to newer generations over the next two decades, presenting a unique opportunity for planned giving.
  • The ROI Factor: While planned gifts offer double the return on investment when compared to traditional major gifts, it’s not just about the financial metrics. For nonprofits, a higher ROI signifies the potential for a lasting legacy and a deeper, sustained impact.  

So, what do these financial implications mean for your organization? As the philanthropic landscape evolves, it’s critical to engage donors in blended gift conversations. By investing in your planned giving program and equipping your development team with the skills to effectively cultivate and steward planned giving donors, you can position your organization to capitalize on this opportunity and create lasting, transformative impact.

Big Campaigns Lead to Big Trends.
  • A Shift Towards Larger Gifts: In an increasingly competitive philanthropic environment, organizations are witnessing a shift towards fewer, yet larger gifts. This has spurred more ambitious campaign goals, especially with blended and planned gift structures leading the way. This rise of these high-value, high-impact, contributions is fueling the age of the “Billion Dollar Campaign.”
  • Adaptive Campaign Strategies and Donor Recognition: As the nonprofit sector evolves, there is a notable shift towards more flexible campaign stages, tailored to donor needs. In parallel, the nature of donor recognition is changing. Moving away from individual naming rights, donors are now seeking broader, collective impact recognitions, pointing to a more collaborative approach to philanthropy.
  • A Focus on Purpose and Efficiency: Today’s donors are more focused on restricting their gifts based on purpose over specific projects, indicating a higher level of trust in organizations to allocate funds wisely. Concurrently, organizations are streamlining operations, reducing over-reliance on volunteer leaders to ensure both time and resources are optimally utilized for maximum impact.

For those readying to launch a campaign, understanding and adapting to trends is important. This not only involves recognizing these shifts but also proactively addressing potential challenges, such as revising gift acceptance policies, equipping teams with planned giving expertise, and evaluating donor base capacity and readiness.

Navigating Emerging Planned Giving Trends.
  • Understanding Diverse Donor Demographics: It’s essential to recognize the evolving donor landscape. A surprising 75% of Millennials, often overlooked in planned giving discussions, have already created a will. This younger generation of donors outpaces older generations with estate plans, signaling that some donors are taking a more proactive approach to legacy planning. Simultaneously, high-net-worth (HNW) families are becoming more collaborative in their philanthropic decisions, though there is a gap, with only 30% of family offices having a clear strategy for meaningful wealth deployment.
  • Embracing New and Innovative Giving Vehicles: With the rise of digital currencies, “crypto philanthropy” is no longer just a phase, but a genuine evolution in donor behavior. These digital assets often translate into larger gifts, averaging ten times more than cash donations. Similarly, the ease of creating Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) is ushering in a new age of strategic giving, allowing donors to enjoy tax benefits while prioritizing their philanthropic goals.
  • Optimizing the Donor Experience with Tech: New technologies are enhancing the planned giving experience. Tools like GivingDocs and FreeWill are bridging the gaps, connecting donors with charities more seamlessly. Additionally, innovative legacy challenges motivate prospective donors, providing flexible avenues for both immediate and future philanthropic impacts.

As campaigns become increasingly complex, it’s crucial for organizations to be well-versed in emerging philanthropic trends. This involves understanding the evolving donor demographics, embracing new giving mechanisms, and leveraging technology to enhance donor experience. Proactively integrating these elements into campaign strategies can lead to more successful outcomes and deeper donor relationships.

In conclusion, campaigns are becoming more sophisticated than ever, and that is largely in part due to planned giving. For a campaign to truly succeed in today’s climate, it must be rooted in a deep understanding of both traditional philanthropic motivations and emerging trends. By taking this multifaceted approach, organizations can design campaigns that not only achieve immediate fundraising goals but also create lasting relationships with donors, ensuring sustainability and future growth.

Wherever you are in your planned giving journey, Orr Group has the expertise to support you in planned giving strategy, management, and administration. Get in touch to learn more.

Amanda Nelson

Amanda Nelson is a Vice President at Orr Group. Amanda has 15 years of professional fundraising experience with a background in higher education and provides nonprofits with expertise in development and strategy implementation to drive growth.

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