Fundraising and Development

Event Management

Nonprofit Management

August  2017

Engage Your Loyal Donors and Uncover Hidden Opportunities

Taking a Strategic Approach to Planned Giving
By: Ronni Cranwell and Garland Mooney 

Integrating planned giving programs into a fundraising strategy can be one of the most impactful decisions a nonprofit can make to secure long-term financial stability.
Planned giving, also referred to as "legacy giving" or "defer red giving," a llows a donor to pledge a gift during their lifetime that is only realized after death through f inancial or estate planning. This process provides t he donor with  the opportunity to incre ase  the size and impact of their giving. Consider, for example, asking a major donor who is intending on making a six-figure discretionary gift, to include a match through a deferred gift, which could double their philanthropic impact without affecting their cash based assets.  While many nonprofits focus on immediate or short-term gifts derived from annual campaigns or major gifts, diversifying revenue streams to include planned giving can help facilitate long-term strategic planning.
Hidden Gifts Can Have A Significant Impact on ROI

Planned giving can be integrated into feasibility studies, major gift programs and annual fund campaigns. These "hidden" gifts can have a significant return on investment. Consider the following: on average, bequests make up 80 to 85 percent of all planned gifts [1] . Only around 5 percent of older Americans have made a charitable commitment, while 33 percent are willing to consider such a gift [2].  Of those that made a gift, 70 percent did so because they were invited to [3] . The message is clear - an enormous untapped potential exists for nonprofits that approach planned giving in a strategic and systematic way.

How to begin?

Focus your efforts on donors who have giving histories of 10 or more years. Once your donors are identified, engage your Board and philanthropy staff to coordinate cultivation planning and execution. Keep in mind that both large and small nonprofits can implement a planned giving program. You do not have to be a content expert on deferred giving as 85 percent of all planned giving revenue is derived from simple bequests - the easiest planned gifts to explain and understand.
Here's our recommended step-by-step approach:
  1.  Identify your loyal donors. Criteria such as frequency, recency, and longevity in giving should be ranked highly. Age and marital status should also be used to identify the universe of planned giving prospects.
  2. Engage and cultivate your loyal donors. Integrate such donors into gift officers' portfolios and create small-scale marketing campaigns to educate and inform such donors of deferred giving opportunities.
  3. Integrate planned giving opportunities into major gift conversations. Remind potential legacy givers that planned giving increases the size and impact of their donation.
  4. Share donor stories of impact related to planned giving with Board, staff and most importantly, your loyal donors.
  5. Steward these donors as you would your major gift prospects.
  6. Establish a legacy society to effectively manage these important relationships; include an annual stewardship event.
Orr Associates, Inc. works with our client partners in the area of planned giving to conduct assessments, develop plans and implement programs. Depending on your organization's needs, we can offer services at a range of different levels, from a full, embedded Planned Giving Team, to strategic counsel or a project-specific engagement. We can also recommend analytical tools and develop dashboards to streamline your planned giving donor outreach and ensure that you are focused on highest ROI.
For more information or to discuss your planned giving needs, please speak with your current OAI relationship manager or email Ronni Cranwell
OAI in the News 

OAI Vice President Craig Shelley moderated a panel titled: " The Role of the CEO in Major Gifts" at Fundraising Day in New York on June 23, 2017.

This session provided practical insights, strategies, and tactics from leading nonprofit CEOs for fundraisers to implement in their organizations. Participants learned how to:
  • Engage and support their CEO as a fundraiser
  • Get their CEO involved in mobilizing their board of directors
  • Build a strong working relationship with their CEO
Panel spe akers included Gregg Betheil, President & CEO, PENCIL : Anna Maria Chavez, Chief Strategy Officer, National Council on Aging ; and Jilly Stephens, Executive Director, City Harvest .

OAI Client Spotlight
Convergence Center for Policy Resolution

Convergence Center for Policy Resolution i s an organization founded to help address urgent social and policy issues through structured, facilitated dialogue and long-term relationship building.  Its work has become all the more critical in today's fractious environment, to the point where the number of requests that Convergence is receiving for its services is exceeding its current capacity and impacting its ability to respond.  Appreciating that this moment in time presents a unique opportunity, Convergence has embarked on a three-month partnership with OAI to assess its fundraising capacity and build a high-level roadmap to help expand philanthropic potential, with a focus on building a major gifts strategy.

Elizabeth Dole Foundation (EDF)
OAI is proud to partner with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation (EDF), which empowers, supports and honors the 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers (spouses, parents, family members, and friends) who care for America's wounded, ill or injured veterans and service members. 

About Orr Associates, Inc. (OAI)


Responding to the increasingly complex burdens on nonprofit leaders, OAI has developed a transformational approach to fundraising and strategy consulting.  Our teams of experienced professionals seamlessly embed themselves with nonprofits to fundraise, to recruit and improve board leadership, to build consensus and direction through new strategies, and to provide executive, fundraising, and financial leadership.  With offices in Washington, DC and New York City, OAI has partnered in our clients' success for more than 25 years, helping more than 600 nonprofits raise hundreds of millions of dollars for their causes. 


See how we can help you today at   



 View our profile on LinkedIn    Follow us on Twitter    Like us on Facebook