Planned giving workshops

In the December 2010 issue of AAI E-news we included an article about benevolent care programs, with which retirement communities seek to support current residents who have exhausted their financial resources through no fault of their own, and are unable to pay the full cost of required services.

Among other donors, residents already living in retirement communities should be invited to consider charitable gifts for benevolent care programs. Planned gifts can be especially useful in this regard. How can a development officer identify and cultivate relationships with those friends who are the most likely candidates to make planned gifts for the benevolent fund? One productive idea is hosting a planned giving workshop. Here’s how it works:

1. First, ask officers from the trust department of a local bank, a community foundation, or a church-related foundation to be the featured presenters in your workshop. They will be glad to do it, have the expertise and information materials needed, and can provide helpful, objective follow-up consultation for interested prospective donors.

Rather than speaking only in generic terms, suggest that the presenters feature your organization in the various examples of planned gifts they highlight. Here is an example from a workshop previously held at Living Branches, a system of retirement communities in southeastern Pennsylvania: Are you making a cash donation to Living Branches every year? Would you like to establish a plan whereby this same amount of cash will flow to Living Branches every year into perpetuity? You can do this by a gift through the will.

Personalizing language in this way will let workshop participants know that your organization welcomes planned gifts.

2. Hold the event on the retirement community campus. In every way, make it convenient for your prospective donors to attend.

3. While publicizing the workshop effectively and inviting everyone to attend, list the names of people most likely to consider a planned gift. Make personal contacts with these people, reminding them of the event, encouraging their attendance, and offering transportation or physical assistance if needed.

4. While the workshop is offered free of charge, ask people to sign up in advance. That will help you identify those who might need a special nudge to attend.

5. Be sure to note workshop attendance in your donor database, along with useful file comments that will help personalize follow-up activities.