Pandemic Legacy: 5 planned giving program tips during COVID-19… and beyond!

Courtney Polster, Ph.D, CFRE, Regional Development Manager at Agrace HospiceCare Foundation, and fellow AFP Greater Madison member, was kind enough to lend us some of her expertise on planned giving, especially during this time of COVID-19.

She said most of their planned giving adjustments have been minor since the pandemic: mainly more phone conversations and a small increase in the number of touches to donors. With that being said, many donors are taking a closer look at future plans during this time. No matter the situation, it is important to keep planned giving at the top of donors’ minds and provide consistent updates and regular planned giving opportunities. Here are some of her other tips as well!


Top 5 tips for a successful planned giving program

1.  Don’t have to be an expert!

There are many different aspects and vehicles in planned giving and you don’t have to be an expert to be successful! Your job is to leverage those relationships and build your army of experts, like financial planners/advisors and attorneys, to assist you along the way.

2.  Be consistent

Make sure you are prioritizing planned giving as a consistent message to your donors. When your communication comes through conversations, mailing pieces, social media or other regular practices, it keeps your organization at the top of mind, especially during this time!

3. Build it up!

Start small and build it up! Create one or two small goals and go up from there. It could be creating mailings, updating your website, starting a planned giving committee, or including articles in your regular newsletter.

4.  Teamwork makes the dream work

Even if you are a one-man/woman shop, make sure those assisting in development at least know the basics. By being able to answer simple questions, you can increase your touchpoints with different donors by utilizing your staff.

5.  Check that website!

Your website should include your legal name, EIN #, address and contact on your planned giving page. Having the basics and being accessible is a great start and gets the donor thinking!



Some tidbits for those who have recently started or are going to start a planned giving program!

ASK QUESTIONS – Your fellow AFP members and other Madison peers are willing to help. Don’t be afraid to reach out and bounce some ideas off of them!

DON’T LET UP – You may have other needs due to COVID-19, but don’t lose sight of the importance of planned giving. You are helping plan for the future of your organization.

CONFIDENCE – Planned giving portrays confidence to donors because they know you are planning for the future and have a plan.

WALK BEFORE YOU RUN – If just starting out, focus on doing ONE thing well. Whether that’s mailings or phone calls, start somewhere and build that confidence!

METRIC SYSTEM – Planned giving is hard to track because some folks may want to remain anonymous and not clue you in that you are in their plans. You can evaluate your program with metrics such as number of planned giving conversations in a given time period or amount of mentions to major donors or how many donors have inquired about it.

Courtney Polster