Professional advisers seen as key planned giving partners

Nonprofits have a great opportunity to generate more planned gifts by working more closely with professional advisers, a new report says.

Most advisers say fewer than 25 percent of their clients have a planned gift in place, and roughly two in three advisers say they would be “very or fairly interested” in working with planned giving professionals to increase estate planning and planned giving, says Metrics That Matter: The Link Between Advisors, Donors and Nonprofits, a report from The Stelter Company, which provides marketing services to nonprofits.

Only 7 percent of advisers say planned gifts are only for the very wealthy, says the report, which is based on an online survey conducted by Selzer & Co. that generated 293 responses from accredited estate planners.

And nonprofit supporters as young as age 40 “can make excellent planned giving prospects,” the report says, citing research by Stelter.

Advisers and planning giving

Most advisers says they are the ones who raise the topic of planned gifts at least half the time, and nearly half say they themselves have a planned gift in place in their own estate, with another 23 percent saying they will definitely or probably put a planned gift in place at some point.

Advisers also say professional colleagues are the most important source of information on planning giving, and they see a possible business advantage from having one-on-one meetings with planned giving professionals.

The report recommends that nonprofits build relationships with advisers who are “particularly planned giving friendly,” and that nonprofits “be more of a philanthropic expert than a technical one.”

Building relationships

In developing relationships with advisers, relationships that could lead to increased revenue, the report says, nonprofits should “emphasize quality of relationships over quantity.”

To help do that, it says, nonprofits should consider sending personal letters to advisers who are big producers or “have demonstrated an affiliation for your mission,” and should set up a LinkedIn network of professional advisers.

In working with advisers, nonprofits should “focus on your shared interests of educating the public about estate planning,” the report says. “This may drive more people to seek the services of professional advisers who, in turn, will likely raise the topic of planned giving.”

Nonprofits also should help foster relationships between key advisers in their networks and their planned giving prospects, it says.

Nonprofits can help do that, it says, by partnering with key advisers to provide information sessions on estate and financial planning, and by providing donors with a list of nonprofits’ adviser networks.

Philanthropic expertise

Nonprofits can expect that advisers in their communities are “reasonably knowledgeable” about planning giving, the report says.

And if they need more technical information, it says, advisers “value the advice of a professional colleague among all other resources.”

Still, it says, a gap exists in advisers’ understanding of the “emotional motivators behind why people give — reasons beyond the obvious or practical.”

Advisers also may not be aware of “generational differences in planned giving receptivity,” the report says.

So nonprofits should share research on consumer attitudes and motivations related to planned giving, information the report says can be helpful to advisers in raising the topic with clients.

“Mission awareness” also can be a “supporting driver in building influential relationships with advisers,” it says.

So nonprofits should “help your key adviser network understand and relate to the good that you do,” it says.

But nonprofits should not “waste time peppering your adviser network with technical information,” it says, because they seem to have other useful resources for that information,

Wealth levels and age

Nonprofits also should work to connect with supporters at all levels of wealth and of all ages, the report says.

“People at all levels of wealth are interested and participating in planned giving,” it says.

And “to the extent that resources allow, cultivating younger donors makes financial sense,” it says. “Few people make changes to charitable gifts within their estate plans (i.e. Once you’re in, you’re in) and planned givers make excellent prospects for future outright or life-income gifts.”

Todd Cohen

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