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5 ways your nonprofit website can promote planned giving

September 30, 2021
Two women sit together at a desk, looking at a few papers and nonprofit websites that promote planned giving on a laptop.

Planned giving is a steadily growing, increasingly popular focus for nonprofit fundraisers. In 2021, over $41 billion was donated to nonprofit organizations through legacy giving. With such a large group of potential donors, more and more nonprofits are devoting time and resources to developing robust planned giving programs.

Like any type of fundraising, you’ll need to make an ask in order to secure funding. Asking someone to consider planned giving, however, is a more sensitive and complicated task than soliciting for your year-end fundraiser. The process of building a request for planned giving often involves taking the time to cultivate deep, personal relationships.  

This process of fostering connections with donors often starts online. Donors considering legacy giving turn to nonprofit websites for information, and what they find can make a big difference in their decision to pursue making a planned gift to your organization.

Here are some of the ways you can optimize your website to attract and inform donors who are interested in planned giving, plus examples from top nonprofits, schools, and healthcare providers.

1. Make your planned giving option visible

There are two kinds of planned giving donors who will visit your website: 

  • Those looking for information about the planned giving process
  • Those looking for a way to support your cause in the present, but who may be open to planned giving once they learn about it 

For both of these categories, featuring this information in an area on your site that is easy to find is important. To draw in donors who may be open to planned giving, even if they aren’t actively seeking information about it, make sure that your website’s planned giving page is easily accessible for all visitors. Feature the information prominently on your donation page to catch the eye of browsers who are open to the idea, even if they haven’t yet considered this type of gift.

An excellent model of using a website’s donation page to highlight the planned giving option is the San Francisco SPCA. Their website features a blurb about the planned giving program alongside their other donation options. The eye-catching photos, graphics, and short blocks of text are ideal for drawing a browser’s eye. They also provide a short informational description which can help build interest as well.

2. Help donors find the information applicable to them

Financial planning is never a simple task, and confusion about how the process works can be discouraging to potential donors. At the beginning of the conversation about planned giving, it is important to give donors enough information to answer the biggest questions on their minds. To avoid overwhelming them, stick to these overarching topics and answer any additional questions they have rather than focusing on complicated legal matters. 

Planned giving can take several forms, and is often unique to each individual donor. For instance, one donor might make a gift of their stock holdings while another will gift real estate. Present only the most important and widely applicable information about your planned giving program to interested donors to spare them from wading through details that don’t pertain to them.

3. Use stories to share a personal aspect

Much of the information donors will find regarding planned giving is heavily technical and uses a lot of legal jargon. While these complex explanations are necessary to explain the various financial structures available (such as annuities or trusts), adding a personal or emotional touch can make a greater impact on prospective donors. 

One way to bring a personal element into the process is to share personal stories about other donors who made planned gifts to your organization. Donor stories are a great way to communicate the importance and benefits of planned giving because they come from your prospective donors’ peers rather than your institution. 

4. Have printable information available

While websites are often an entry point for the planned giving conversation, older donors may prefer to have information that they can print and view later. You can meet their preferences by offering the information on your website in printable form. 

For inspiration, check out how LA BioMed put together a PDF document that complements the information available on their website. Their guide contains all of the important information about the planned giving process and reassures donors that planned giving is accessible to everyone.

5. Cultivate a personal relationship with donors

Like other major gifts fundraising, planned giving is successful when fundraisers are able to cultivate real relationships with donors over time. The most successful planned giving asks happen after a relationship has been built, so use your website as a tool to indicate that you want to get to know your donors. 

Lighthouse Guild’s website is a great example of this strategy. The first thing you’ll see at the top of their planned giving page is a blurb directing donors to call their director of gift planning, along with contact information.

Effectively building and maintaining relationships with planned giving donors requires fundraisers to possess unique capabilities and tools. These relationships may span years or decades, and they may also involve communication with multiple parties in addition to the donor (such as lawyers and estate planners, or surviving family members). Keeping all of the contact history and information in one secure location is critical so that it can be revisited at any point during the relationship or transferred during staffing changes. 

Making the most of planned giving

After getting a donor’s attention with your website, good data management practices ensure that you are able to build and maintain a lasting relationship with them that will lead them to consider a planned gift to your nonprofit.

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