Making the Ask

What’s the number one reason why people donate to charity?  Because they were asked!   (Remember the quote from Millard Fuller at the beginning of this Frontline Fundraising Toolkit?)

Planned gifts do not happen overnight. The average time from inception to maturity for a planned gift is 7 to 10 years. At the very minimum, you should start talking to library supporters about leaving a bequest because, if you don’t, another organization most likely will!   Start with bequests because they are the simplest kind of planned gift. As you have more time to develop the relationship with your potential planned giver, you can talk about more sophisticated planned giving vehicles.

Here are some conversation starters:

  • Your annual gifts make such a difference to the library, have you considered leaving a planned gift to the library?
  • Would you consider including the library in your estate plans?
  • After you’ve taken care of your family, would you consider leaving the library in your will? 
  • Are we already in your estate plans?

Once you have started the conversation, you can follow up with a one-on-one meeting to discuss specifics and donor desires. Be sure to remind listeners that they will need to consult with their attorney or financial advisor to determine the best kind of planned gift. Direct them to your library’s website for more details.

Elevator Pitches

An “elevator pitch” is a conversation starter, not an entire sales pitch.  It is concise, compelling and told in terms that anyone should understand. (It’s called an elevator pitch because it only takes as long as an elevator ride.) The language is informal and to-the-point. You need to have an elevator pitch ready when it comes to your planned giving program. Here are a few examples:

  • Bequests:
    “Your support of the library could be as easy as a simple designation in your will.  It won’t affect your cash flow during your lifetime and can be revoked or amended if your situation changes.”  
  • Life Insurance policies:
    “Did you realize that you can make a gift to the library by assigning the library as a beneficiary to your policy?”
  • Retirement Plans:
    “Retirement funds can be heavily taxed if passed on to your heirs.  They’re tax free if given to the library.”

Next: Marketing Your Planned Giving Program

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