Five Numbers You, Your Boss & Your Board Need to Know in 2018

Posted by Patrick Schmitt & Cathy R Sheffield on Feb 7, 2018 7:30:00 AM

Planned giving professionals tell us that one of the hardest things about their work is winning more resources internally. Here are some big, powerful stats to share with your boss and board to help you expand your planned giving fundraising in 2018.

$30 trillion

In the next 20 years, there will be more than $30 trillion inherited as the large and wealthy Baby Boomer population ages. By some estimates, this generation owns half of all the wealth in the United States. This may be the single biggest opportunity for philanthropy in the history of the world.


Planned giving can help the whole development team hit their goals. According to research by Dr. Russell James, donors who make bequests increase their giving in the subsequent 5 years goes by 75%.


A study on IRS data found that bequests are by far the largest type of gifts, averaging 2.74 times the total lifetime giving of a donor.  

56 to 1

Planned Giving is widely considered to have the highest ROI of any type of fundraising. A study by AskRight found the average ROI on bequests to be 56.83:1, more than 15 times higher than the ROI on direct mail.

We’ve seen ROI as high as 100:1 in our work with small donors with FreeWill and Thompson & Associates’ planning clients, though results certainly vary by organization, campaign, and strategy.


One.  The one is You!  You know how important planned giving is to the mission of your organization. We hope these numbers help you educate the rest of your organization.


About the authors:

Patrick Schmitt is a graduate student at Stanford University, the co-author of Philanthropy's Missing Trillions, and the co-founder of FreeWill.

Cathy R Sheffield is the founder of ThinkGiving and Vice President with Thompson & Associates, a values-based estate planning firm. Cathy is also former Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners.

Topics: philanthropy, fundraising