A Session Highlight from the National Conference on Philanthropic Planning, NCPP
The National Conference on Philanthropic Planning usually appeals to the most experienced gift planners, but Meryl Cosentino, took attendees back to kindergarten in her breakout session, which came complete with milk and cookies, but without naps. Her tips are great reminders for planners at every experience level.
Keep it simple! For example, when speaking with donors and prospects, focus on only three meaningful traits of your organization. Your message will be more memorable and easier for your donors to share with others. Simplicity is valuable at all stages of gift solicitation, including the process of thanking a donor for their contribution. Just as your grandparents and other relatives appreciated your thank you calls and reveled in stories about your success, so your donors appreciate your calls and letters of thanks and want to hear about how the charities that they love and support are thriving.
Make playdates! Get together with donors who have made gifts in consecutive years, regardless of the dollar amount of those gifts. These donors are great planned giving prospects, because they are loyal to your charity. However, giving need not be in the most recent 10-15 years – lapsed donors are often great planned giving prospects. Younger charities should just look for multiple gifts, there is no need for them to be consecutive.
Just like Goldilocks, look for the prospect pool that is just right. Start with the top 50, then narrow to 25 prospects who are most likely to make a gift in the next 6-12 months. The focus should not be just on wealth, but also on the stage of cultivation that they are currently in. Once you have your top prospects, flush the rest . . . at least for now. But make sure that they still receive marketing pieces and surveys. These contacts may be what motivate your future top 25 to identify themselves.
Share, smile, play fair, be polite, flush…if it worked for you in kindergarten, it will work for you today. Read Meryl’s paper to make sure you are applying everything you’ve learned.
Senior Director of Gift Planning at Stony Brook University