Especially since the latest recession, gift planners have been challenged to quantify their effectiveness at work that, from a business perspective, often cannot show immediate returns. Most would agree that planned gift fundraising has a high return over time, but the margin of error is high and the time period is undetermined and extended—a real conundrum for data-driven management. When Presidents, CFOs and boards of directors set aggressive, short-term goals, there is a strong incentive to hire a major gift officer to raise $250K rather than a planned gift officer to raise $500K.
How can a gift planner justify her work and contribution to the organization without wasting time explaining it to the same people over and over? During roundtable discussion at the National Conference on Philanthropic Planning, more than 40 Leadership Institute members shared their ideas for metrics that actually achieve what the organization wants to achieve, including these.
To increase collaboration among major and planned gift fundraisers…
- Give major gift fundraisers individual dollar goals, but not planned gift fundraisers. There may be a collective goal for planned gifts, based on past experience, but for the current campaign or reporting period, gift planners can focus on helping major gift officers achieve their dollar goals through blended strategies.
- Add the role of “planned gift manager” in the database, and set goals for other gift officers to involve that person in cultivation/solicitation.
To help donors make the biggest, best gifts possible…
- Set a goal for all front-line fundraisers of two blended gift proposals (part now/part later or part cash/part other gift option) each year.
To strengthen ties between donors and the organization…
- Give all gift officers a goal to uncover bequest expectancies and add names to the legacy society
- In start-up planned gift programs, commit 5% of the gift officer’s time to contacting loyal donors to thank them for their support and ask them to consider a legacy gift. (The goal is to identify qualified leads for cultivation, not to document gift amounts.)
- Set a variety of nonfinancial engagement goals to encourage visits and other contacts that increase the number and quality of planned gift discussions.
And one warning about the down side of dollar goals:
- Be aware that if an ask is driven by the metric rather than the donor’s wishes, then dollar production goals may alienate donors who prefer to make bequests as a percentage of their estates.
Connect with the Author: Barbara Yeagar, Director of Operations, Partnership for Philanthropic Planning
And start preparing for the National Conference of Philanthropic Planning in Orlando, Florida later this year!