Best Practices for Your Planned Giving Committee
You do have a planned giving committee, don’t you? How else are you going to tap into that deep pool of charitable bequests — and meet the future needs of your organization?
While they can take many shapes and forms, a planned giving committee is essentially responsible for:
• Establishing a formal process to seek out, secure and manage planned gifts.
• Establishing due diligence procedures for accepting certain types of gifts (e.g., gifts of life insurance, real estate, securities, gifts-in-kind, etc.).
• Assisting in marketing the planned giving program.
• Providing guidance to prospective and current donors.
• Keeping abreast of changes in the tax code and various planned giving vehicles.
Start with Board Commitment
Have your board formally endorse a resolution to develop a planned giving committee. Make sure they fully understand the potential impact of planned giving on the organization — that it is “a present investment in a future return.” The board will also need to approve budget allocations and assist in marketing the planned giving program.
Planned gifts come in a bewildering array of permutations — from bequests and charitable remainder trusts to gifts of annuities, insurance and even property. To protect yourself from gifts that come with unforeseen impact, have development staff prepare policies and procedures that spell out the following:
• What types of gifts will be accepted? Will you accept gifts of real estate or closely held securities?
• Under what circumstances can a gift be accepted? For example, is your organization willing to pay for an appraisal in order to accept a donated work of art?
• Who is authorized to accept a gift on behalf of your organization?
• In what cases is board approval required?
Tap Specialized Expertise
With professional advisors on your committee — estate and trust attorneys, CPAs, financial planners, etc. — you’ll be able to work through the myriad details of wills, estate transfers and complex trust arrangements. Someone considering a planned gift will typically consult with his or her own financial ad-visors first. But having your own team of experts working with a donor’s financial advisors and estate/trust attorneys lays the groundwork for a lifelong donor, client and fan of your organization.
On the back end, it’s important to have someone on the team with legal/financial/estate experience to monitor and administer estates in probate. That person can work with executors and lawyers to ensure that your organization receives its bequest — and that costs to settle are reasonable.
Ultimately, the goal of any planned giving strategy is to get prospects to “raise their hands” and self-identify as planned givers. That includes identifying the “sleepers” — donors who have or are considering placing your organization in their will, but have yet to identify themselves.
Here, your planned giving committee can focus on the ongoing cultivation and education of prospects and potential prospects — such as sending out mailers and planned giving newsletters, and holding information luncheons, wills clinics and estate planning seminars. Committee members can also work with the Planned Giving Officer to make presentations.
Ultimately, designating a committee with the specific task of developing planned gifts can pay off handsomely.
A variety of resources are available to guide your planned giving activities, including these:
Community foundations — In a growing number of cities, community foundations are providing small nonprofits with some of the expertise and structure they need to get into planned giving.
Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) — The AFP Resource Center contains a large variety of material on planned giving. And AFP staff can answer specific questions or perform a bibliographic search to develop a list of potential resources (www.afpnet.org).
Partnership for Philanthropic Planning — This organization’s online resource center provides charitable gift planning articles and resources (www.pppnet.org).
Whether it is help with structuring a committee or providing accounting guidance, our firm can bring value to your planned giving activities.