Great Strides in 2022
Non-profit development staff—including planned giving teams—have increasingly been tasked with promoting their organizations' Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work. However, the intersection between planned giving and DEI work is not always apparent or easy. The simplest, most obvious change that many planned giving departments have implemented is to update the images used in their marketing materials to represent a broader, more inclusive cross-section of people. While increasing representation in the photos used in marketing materials is essential, it is not enough.
The question we must ask ourselves is: How can planned giving professionals move beyond simply diversifying the images used in planned giving marketing and develop a deeper understanding of how our sector should think about making the world of planned giving more inclusive for communities of color?
Looking deeply and honestly at the roots of why there are comparatively fewer people of color leaving planned gifts to non-profit institutions will not always be comfortable, nor is it intended to provide simple turn-key solutions to a multifaceted problem. Here is what we know:
To illuminate the last point above, let's look at some statistics on rates of estate planning in different racial and ethnic communities. Data on estate planning show that 28% of adults who identify as people of color have an active will, while 51% of white Americans have one. White Americans are almost three times more likely to have completed estate planning than Black or Hispanic/Latinx Americans. Lower rates of estate planning among communities of color have also been observed in the non-profit sector, where Black Americans typically leave fewer charitable bequest gifts than their white counterparts. While Black Americans have been found to be significantly less likely than white Americans to have a will or trust with a charitable component, this seems to be primarily correlated with lower rates of estate planning itself and not with lower rates of charitable intent.
The planned giving sector in the U.S. must learn from history and develop better, more inclusive practices to help overcome the barriers faced by people of color in creating estate plans that protect their families, express their values, and build the intergenerational wealth from which white Americans have benefited. Only by increasing the rate of estate planning in communities of color can we ever hope to create more inclusive and diverse planned giving programs that will grow the stream of future revenue for non-profit organizations.
While the legal system can and should bear much of the burden for creating the systemic changes necessary to expand the reach of estate planning, planned giving professionals can also make an impact by:
This worthwhile work will help our sector expand inclusivity in estate planning and will, ultimately, lead to more planned gifts from a wider audience.
About the Authors
JADE BRISTOL, J.D.
After graduating from Georgetown University Law Center, Jade began her career as a Trusts & Estates attorney. She then spent over a decade leading successful planned giving programs for two major national non-profits before joining Giving Docs as Chief Development Officer.
ALESHA IGNATIUS BRERETON, PH.D.
Alesha holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Texas A&M University and for over thirteen years has worked in the nonprofit field of gender-based violence. She is currently a 3L at Boston University School of Law and will be working as a corporate lawyer upon graduation.
The words are, of course, “thank you.”
They are early words we teach our kids, repeat at the drive-thru and casually drop while checking out at the grocery store…yet do we say them to our donors?
Yes, I get it; there are meaningful barriers to adding a stewardship strategy to your marketing plan. I often hear:
Those barriers are real, although I argue that the benefits of thanking your donors outweigh them. Let’s look at a few key wins of saying thanks.
4 Benefits of Thanking Donor
1. It serves as a gift acknowledgment.
Have you ever given a gift at a wedding and not received a thank you? It makes you second-guess where you placed the gift on the table and how well you secured the card. It doesn’t feel good.
Thanking a donor for an immediate gift—a stock transfer, for example—is a simple confirmation step. They may also need this acknowledgment to share with their financial or legal advisers.
Bonus: Your gift acknowledgment can boost retention. It’s increasingly harder to retain donors and we all know that it costs more to acquire a new donor than to keep a current one. Ensure that you start the relationship with this positive experience.
2. It may increase future giving.
In a similar vein, a 2018 study by Giving USA found that legacy donors want ongoing, personalized stewardship to help them stay connected to the impact of their gift. Provided they had been properly thanked, most legacy donors also reported being open to annual solicitations as a way to “feel useful” and provide immediate support.
3. It allows you to personalize future communications.
What a great chance to deepen the relationship. Use your thank you to clarify how and how often the donor likes to be communicated with. Via email? In-person visits? Snail mail? When you have special events? Frequently? Never again? (A “thanks, but no thanks” is a possible response that you need to honor, too.)
When you personalize future touchpoints by the donor’s interests through their preferred channel and on their timeline, you’ve hit the trifecta of marketing: Right person, right time, right place.
4. It creates a positive association with giving.
It’s simple psychology: In being thanked, the donor correlates giving to reward. And the more memorable and worthwhile your communication, the stronger the association.
There’s an interesting additional feel-good bonus for your organization: Your fundraisers get to connect to the mission. They get to bond with legacy givers who also love your organization’s work. They get to share initiatives that are making a real difference. They get to celebrate their success in motivating others. Through thank yous, fundraisers get to live out their professional goals.
Committing to a stewardship program can be the most important upgrade in your marketing. When your program shifts from just donor acquisition to include donor retention, there are meaningful financial and emotional payoffs.
About the Author
Nathan Stelter is the president of The Stelter Company, a leading source for gift planning marketing solutions for the nonprofit community. Nathan’s enjoyed a 20-year career in planned giving and is a past board member of the NCGPC (Washington, DC), current member of the Mid-Iowa Planned Giving Council, chair-elect for the board of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners as well as co-chair of the National Standards for Gift Planning Success (NSGPS) task force.
About the Author
Direct mail fundraisers know that paper price is a major component of the total price of their marketing. Have you been hit with sticker shot lately?
Consider this: Paper prices have gone up a little more than 25% since January 2021.
There are many factors in play:
According to Erik Norman, the SVP Sales and Marketing for Bolger Printing, a digital print, wide-format printing, technology, and marketing service provider, we’re in a unique space. “This dire global paper shortage coming off the pandemic effect is unique and unequaled,” Erik says. “People who’ve been purchasing paper for 30+ years haven’t seen it before.”
So, if we’re still in unprecedented times, what can we do about it?
To Start, When Will It End?
“That’s the 64-million-dollar question,” says Erik. “The general consensus is probably into quarter three of next year. This is not a short-term issue.”
The following tips help you take control, today.
Tip #1: Start discussions early. Really early.
When you bring your design, data and production partners to the table early, you have options. You can lean on partnerships (see Tip #2) and connections. By pulling one lever—maybe timing, materials or quantities—you can stay on track with your most important goals.
Tip #2: Be flexible about paper grade/paper type. (Or timing.)
Your printer partners are likely working through a lot of alternatives: Be willing to consider them when bottlenecks appear. More common paper sheets are more likely to be stocked, plus they are successful for other customers—could they work for you? It doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or performance, it may just mean a different brand or size.
Here’s why this is happening: Your printing resources are likely buying paper in bulk and in many cases, they are getting their supply based on historic orders. If you have a new need, it’s more difficult to fulfill. You may still be able to get the sheets you want if you can shift when you need them. For example, Erik says that materials that used to take a couple of weeks to stock could now take 10-14 weeks.
Tip #3: Lean into multichannel.
The best-performing fundraising efforts meet donors where they are—whether through social media, email, Google searches, billboards or even text messages. Marketing is getting the right message to the right people at the right time. Ensure that digital marketing is part of your mix, especially if you have to delay your direct mail timing.
There are deliverability challenges in every channel, but a well-rounded approach helps defend against pricing, regulations and algorithms. A diverse portfolio is the best portfolio.
Keep Cost in Check
Remember that stat about paper pricing increasing 25% last year? Print technology providers like Bolger are looking to drive efficiencies to control costs. Tradeoffs are part of that—again, material being a key one, but you could also flex how many print checks you get during the quality control process—and so is planning. Elongated lead times will be the norm for 2022.
Here’s the key takeaway to meet your printing goals and timelines: Don’t wait.