"Don't Use My Name" (Be thankful you have my gift)

The best way to promote planned gifts is to make it personal for the prospect: cultivate donor identification, engage their emotions, and illustrative positive giving outcomes.

And the simplest way to accomplish all that is with donor testimonials, right?

Unfortunately, getting planned giving donors to provide testimonials is not always that easy.

Here are some ideas of what you can do when donors just don't want to participate:

  1. Look at your planned giving donor list and select the folks who are most engaged with your organization.
  2. Give priority to those you (or someone in your office) have an established relationship with.
  3. Call them to do a survey. As always, start by thanking them for their loyalty and commitment. Tell them you would like their feedback: How are we doing? What can we do better to serve you as a donor?
  4. Provided the survey goes well, ask them for their help. People, especially loyal donors who love your organization, like to help other people. You can say something like "I need your help. What you do for us is so meaningful, helpful and appreciated. We are finding that our donors are motivated and inspired by people like yourself and when they see what wonderful donors like you have done they are much more likely to do the same. Can I use some of the comments you shared with me today to inspire others to give?"
  5. If the donor hems and haws, let them know you can focus on why they made the gift, not how. (Focusing on the why, not the what or the how, is a great approach for all your planned giving marketing!)
  6. If they agree, fantastic. Now, ask them to supply a photo. When getting photos ask donors particularly for a photo of them doing something they enjoy. Your other donors want to see pictures and read stories of interesting people doing interesting things. An example might be a photo of your donor doing something they are passionate about, such as playing an instrument, gardening, creating artwork, etc.
  7. If the donor just does not want to participate, thank them and remember it's a numbers game. Move on to your next possibility!

Whether in donor stories or photographs, be sure also to feature people who benefit from the outcomes of gifts, such as students in endowed scholarship, grateful patients or clients, etc. Put a human face on the positive results of giving to promote maximum engagement with the prospect.

Does it sound like a lot of work? Don't worry - it really isn't. Set yourself a goal to call one or two grateful donors a week to ask them for a testimonial. Even if you don't get a testimonial, at least you thanked them and asked them for their feedback.

And we can never do that too much, can we?

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By: Joe Tumolo, Vice President of Sales at VirtualGiving.com, published previously at PlannedGiving.com