Blog Series: Level-Up Your Fundraising, Planned Giving

Welcome to part 8 of our blog series, "Level-Up Your Fundraising."

This latest blog series is written to help nonprofits of all sizes navigate through several different fundraising situations. Each tip is designed to help you raise more money with less stress and hassle for your organization.

If you missed part 7 on thinking outside the box when connecting with corporate donors, you can view it here

Part 8: Promote Planned Giving Through a Variety of Channels

Your nonprofit has numerous fundraising marketing channels available to it… most of these channels can be used effectively to find planned gifts. Remember, there are three different ways you should use each of the planned gift marketing channels at your disposal:

  1. First, use each channel to launch your planned giving program as part of a coordinated campaign.

  2. Second, use each channel to maintain your planned giving program by occasionally mentioning your planned gift fundraising efforts, and

  3. Third, use each channel to grow your planned giving program by using it as part of a coordinated fundraising campaign every 3-4 years.

The most popular and effective channels for marketing your planned giving program are:

Your Website

A nonprofit’s website should be both a repository of information that donors can seek out when prompted by other marketing methods as well as a place where nonprofits can make direct donor asks.

Your organization’s website can play a major supporting role in your planned giving maintenance efforts by providing information on the various types of planned gifts people can make to your nonprofit as well as by directly asking donors to consider making a bequest.  Similarly, your website can host information about your Legacy Club and other planned giving donor recognition efforts.

When launching planned giving for the first time or running a coordinated planned gift marketing campaign, your website can also provide a major way to reach donors with your campaign message. Many nonprofits will place a planned giving message and ask directly on the front page of their website during planned gift fundraising campaigns.

Your Newsletter

Whether your nonprofit sends out snail mail newsletters, e-mail newsletters, or both, your organization’s newsletter can be a great place to market your planned giving program. As with your website, your newsletter can be used to easily remind donors about your planned gift options (during the maintenance period in between campaigns) as well as a great place to highlight your planned gift message, vision, donor stories, etc. during your coordinated planned giving campaigns.

Direct Mail

Many nonprofits successfully use direct mail (snail mail letters) to ask donors for planned gifts during planned giving campaigns. This tactic works best on small and mid-level donors (larger donors should receive more personal planned gift asks).

Direct mail does not work as well for planned giving program maintenance. We suggest not putting a planned giving reminder on your fundraising letters or reply cards unless the letter is only about planned giving. Putting something like, “Remember the XYZ Foundation in Your Will” on the bottom of your reply cards will do nothing to generate bequests but may in fact distract donors who would otherwise send in a check in response to the letter.

Use direct mail for your planned giving launch and your coordinated planned giving campaigns but not for maintenance of your program in between campaigns.


As with direct mail, we suggest you use e-mail blasts and asks during your planned gift fundraising launch and subsequent coordinated campaigns but not mention planned giving in your other e-mail fundraising appeals.

Small Group Events

We love using small group events as part of planned giving campaigns. You can hold events targeting 10-30 mid-level or major donors who you would like to target for planned gift asks.  Invite them to an event to hear about your plan for the next 100 years, your vision for making a difference in the world, and the role they can play as part of your team. Do not charge for tickets to the event… the fundraising at this event is for planned gifts, not $50 ticket sales.

At the event, make your pitch, plus go over the planned giving options. Then, make a general ask for people to join your Legacy Club and remember you in their will. After the event, follow up with each attendee by phone *within two weeks after the event* to ask if they have any questions and to reiterate your ask.

Large Scale Events

Fundraising galas, dinners, and other large-scale events are generally not good channels for marketing your planned gift fundraising. Making planned gift asks during large events rarely works and mentioning your planned giving program during galas and dinners does little or nothing to help with program maintenance.

The one exception that I have noticed is with Legacy Club recognition. If you run a planned giving program using a Legacy Club, consider recognizing the newest members of the club during your large annual fundraising event. 

Social Media

As with all fundraising, the best use of social media for your planned gift marketing is to use social networks to drive traffic back to the planned giving pages on your organization’s website.  This works best during planned giving coordinated campaigns.


The best way to make planned gift asks (and do planned gift cultivation) is one-on-one with the donor. Of course, because this is also the most time-consuming method, you will need to reserve this strategy for your largest donors and best prospects.

Use one-on-one meetings to make planned gift asks during your launch and your coordinated campaign and also include a strategy for one-on-one planned gift cultivation and asks as part of your nonprofit’s major donor strategy. This way, you’ll be sure that you’re always asking major donors for a planned gift at a certain point in their journey through your organizations’ fundraising funnel.

Your Board

Believe it or not, your board can be an excellent channel for your planned gift marketing.  Here’s how:

  • First and foremost, every member of your board should be asked to commit a planned gift to your nonprofit.
  • Second, your board members (each of whom, presumably, will have made a planned gift commitment to your nonprofit) can serve as great reinforcement during your one-on-one and small group planned giving meetings. Bring some board members along to talk about why they made a planned gift and how important planned giving is to the overall health and success of your nonprofit.
  • Finally, your board members should be trained to be on the lookout for folks from their social and business circles who have the capacity to make large planned gifts. Ask your board members to set up meetings with these contacts to get them into your donor funnel.

Posted by Alyssa Pacheco

Alyssa Pacheco is a former Digital Marketing Manager, Nonprofit Solutions at StratusLIVE. She has three years of marketing and communications experience within the technology sector, along with four years of direct nonprofit fundraising experience. “I genuinely enjoy sharing the significant benefits that technology plays for nonprofit organizations in their social good efforts.”