Marketing Planned Gifts

Written by Megan Brown 

Marketing Director | Fortify Foundation 

One of the most advantageous and important areas to market, when it comes to donors, is planned gifts. Planned giving creates an opportunity for people of all ages to make a future gift with a lasting impact. While there are several ways to make a planned gift, I want to focus on two popular areas of planned giving: Bequests and IRA Charitable Roll-overs. When marketing planned gifts, we always want to keep in mind the golden rule of business: “it’s all about the customer.” While we wouldn’t consider our donors to be customers, we should strive to keep the donor-first mentality when planning out our marketing efforts. Whatever we do, there are always two points of view: our view, and the donor’s view.

We must always consider the donor’s point of view before our own. When we market planned gifts, our motivation is to grow our endowment fund, but our donors are looking at planned giving and considering how it is going to benefit them. When creating content to send to donors, consider how their donation to your fund is going to benefit and bring value to them.  As in any form of marketing, we always want to remain open to new strategies, ideas, and methods. We want to avoid saying things like, “that’s the way we have always done it.” Often times we find something that works and we don’t ever stray from it. While this may work for a few years, naturally things start to evolve and our donor’s needs change. Our marketing strategies should evolve right alongside our donors. On the flip side, we never want to do the same thing everyone else is doing simply because it drives results for them. Every donor base is different. What may work great for one community might not be as well received in another. It is important to use and test several areas of marketing with your donors to see what they respond to best. We know that increased donor interest comes mostly through donor meetings, but also through venues such as content marketing and surveys. It is important to keep a balance in every avenue of marketing, that way you don’t miss any potential new donors. 

The first step to marketing planned gifts is to figure out who your target audience is. When you know your audience’s age, demographics, etc., you can create a custom plan with a balance of email marketing, social media, print materials, and in-person meetings. Bequests, gifts left in a person’s will, are often referred to as the major gift of the middle class. The average age a person creates their first will is 44. The average age of their first bequest gift is 49. If your average donor base, or potential donor base, falls in the 40-50 age range, then bequests should be your main focus when marketing planned gifts. 79% of bequest donors have a strong relationship with the charity/organization/school they are donating to. This is where building and maintaining that relationship is key. Studies show that only 2% of bequests are revoked when they are stewarded well! Even if someone has placed your school in their will, the work doesn’t stop there. A gift is only the halfway point. We must continue to steward that relationship for years to come. 

If you find that your donor base falls more into the 70 and up age range, then marketing IRA charitable roll-overs may be the best fit for you. An IRA charitable roll-over can be made by anyone who is 70 1/2 + who is interested in a way to lower the income and taxes from their IRA withdrawals. An IRA rollover allows a donor to avoid taxes on transfers up to $100,000 from their IRA to your endowment fund. This reduces their taxable income, even if they do not itemize deductions. 

An IRA charitable rollover is a great option to promote to grandparents, elders in the community, and long-time supporters of your school. At Fortify Foundation, we offer a large number of planned giving resources on our giving page, You can find a free estate planning guide, will planner, information on all types of planned gifts and more! We have these resources available to our community to learn more about the world of planned giving. We are always available to discuss any questions, thoughts, or concerns you may have about promoting planned giving at your school.

Always remember: every donor is unique and every person and interaction is unique. We work with each donor one at a time, not all together. As you begin implementing a planned giving marketing strategy for your donor base, focus on finding your top prospects. Take advantage of your website (we can create a custom giving page for your endowment fund that can be added to your school’s website). Send out eNewsletters (we can write content on planned giving to be included). Utilize print and social media (we can design custom graphics and print materials branded to your school). Every avenue of marketing offers its own unique value and should be tested to see what reaches your audience best. Remember, we are here to serve you and come alongside you as you market and promote planned giving. Never hesitate to reach out to me at with questions, concerns, or inquiries. I would love to set up a meeting to talk through strategy, create content, or help build out a marketing plan for the 2022-2023 school year.