Speakers Outline Keys to Planned-Giving Mail Efforts

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NEW YORK -- Four key facts are involved in using direct mail to encourage planned giving to nonprofit organizations, according to speakers at the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 23rd Annual Fundraising Day here.

J. Douglas McDaniel, the former director of major and planned gift programs at the American Bible Society who has accepted a position at Guideposts, and Michael P. Rooney, senior vice president at Craver, Mathews, Smith and Co., were the speakers at the "Mining the Planned Giving Gold in Your Direct Mail Program" session held Friday.

Organizations first must build awareness by providing regular and ongoing information and offers to planned-giving prospects, they said. Then target the best prospects from your organization's database.

The best prospects for planned giving have similar characteristics, McDaniel said. They have assets, they believe in your cause, their family obligations are covered, they are often older and often have no spouse or children. However, the most important characteristic is that they are strongly connected to your organization.

The third thing to remember is to seek inquiries with your direct mail instead of immediate gifts. Finally, planned-giving inquiries must be promptly fulfilled with a personal follow-up.

As far as a mail plan approach for direct giving prospecting, Rooney recommended varied mail pieces, including awareness-building pieces and general information pieces. He also said that, based on a well-known fundraising principle, 20 percent of your house file will provide 80 percent of your donations.

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