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John Marshall

Essentials to Starting a Planned Giving Program

By | All Posts, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Planned Giving | One Comment

John Marshall
Senior Vice President

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to speak with many organizations about the merits of including Planned Giving as a component of their overall fundraising program. These have been organizations that were primarily in the process of considering the addition of Planned Giving but were somewhat hesitant to “take the plunge” for any number of reasons. Mostly, such hesitancy was due to their lack of understanding about this unique fundraising opportunity as well as their uncertainty about how to get started.

I have always maintained that every nonprofit should include Planned Giving in its fundraising universe in some fashion. It could be as minor as placing the words “Have you considered leaving our organization in your will?” on the bottom of your organization’s letterhead.

If you are at that stage where you believe now is the time to get started, allow me to offer up what I feel are five essentials for you to consider as you start the process.

  1. Make certain your Board and senior staff understand Planned Giving and are FULLY SUPPORTIVE.

Patience is absolutely required and the organization’s leadership will need to understand that planned gifts do not instantaneously materialize. They take time to be properly cultivated and may not be realized for quite some time. It is important leadership understand that planned gifts are what will help sustain the organization over the long run and can provide the resources required to create the “margin of excellence” every nonprofit desires.

  1. Identify your target audience.

“Aim at nothing and you will hit your target every time” is a phrase that was drilled into my head very early in my career. You must develop a cultivation list of those who are likely to be responsive to your organization through the various opportunities of Planned Giving – usually those who have a history with the organization and who have shown loyal financial support for an extended period of time. Those to consider for your cultivation list should include:

  • Consistent donors. Giving for five or more years or those who have given $1,000 or more at any time
  • Current and former Board members
  • Current and former volunteers
  • Current and former staff

And when considering who to identify, remember the letters F-L-A-G:

  • Frequency
  • Longevity
  • Age
  • Gender (women tend to make more bequests….men make more planned gifts by way of trusts)
  1. Determine which Planned Giving vehicles you can most comfortably offer and manage.

Please don’t promote to your constituents an opportunity you cannot manage/deliver. If you simply want to start by dipping your toe into the pool, encourage participation by way of a bequest. If you wish to take a more proactive approach, then consider the following:

  • Charitable Gift Annuity
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Life Insurance
  • Charitable Lead Trusts
  • Life Estate Contracts

If you decide to be more comprehensive in what you offer, I heartily recommend that you go to great lengths to enlist the support of professionals who can advise you in any number of ways to ensure that you are providing accurate information to your constituents. I have always recruited what I refer to as a PAC group…..Professional Advisory Committee consisting of those whose expertise relates to the estate planning arena. (Attorneys, Estate Planners, CPAs, Real Estate Agents, Life Underwriters, etc.).

  1. Determine how you will promote Planned Giving.

If you envision promoting your Planned Giving program in more ways than simply including the aforementioned sentence on your letterhead, you might want to create a promotional program which could include:

  • Direct Mail
  • Newsletters – include an article in your main newsletter (possibly with a testimonial from a donor)
  • Seminars – an opportunity to invite the professional community to participate
  • All of the above
  1. Make certain to pay particular attention to internal management issues.

It is essential that you have all your ducks properly lined up, otherwise, unwanted cracks in your Planned Giving program floor may start to appear. Consider the following:

  • Personnel: who will be assigned oversight for the Planned Giving program?
  • Budget: the creation of a separate and appropriate Planned Giving budget
  • Policies and procedures should be created to establish the types of planned gifts that are and are not acceptable, gift limitations, donor confidentiality, etc.
  • Buy-in from the finance department: developing a solid relationship with your finance department in an effort to ensure clarity of understanding on policies and procedures as well as communication and accounting for deferred gifts

Taking the plunge into Planned Giving should be accomplished only after very careful consideration occurs among the organization’s stakeholders/decision makers. Properly orchestrated, the Planned Giving program can provide wonderful benefits to your donors today and to your organization in the future.

John F. Marshall is Senior Vice President with JB+A, Inc. with more than 40 years of fundraising development experience and expertise. You can contact him at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com or call him at 816.237.1999.

Upon Further Review: More on Managing Boards of Directors

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Stewardship, Volunteers | No Comments

John+Marshal+for+webJohn Marshall
Senior Vice President

Last year, I wrote an article entitled “Nonprofits, Boards and Managing Expectations: A Two-Way Street.” My effort was intended to share with the fundraising professional a few insights on what it takes to transform a Board from “good to great” (in the words of one terrific author, Mr. Jim Collins).

I wrote about my experiences over the past 40+ years of working with a multitude of Boards—all different, all unique—and I specifically addressed the importance of creating clear expectations (of Board members and of staff) and the great importance of having a comprehensive Board Member Job Description.

In reviewing that epistle, I realized there is even more to be said focusing on a few other insights I believe might be helpful to you as you continue the process of creating the very best Board possible. My hope is that the following will assist you in this regard.

Primary Responsibilities Associated with Board Membership
Beyond what is found in the Board Member Job Description, it is important that Board members are aware of the importance of the following:

  1. Having an understanding and keen appreciation for the mission, motive, purposes and objectives of the organization
  2. Becoming familiar with the function of and services provided by the organization
  3. Providing the organization with support, encouragement, counsel and guidance
  4. Becoming familiar with the means by which the organization operates—its sources of income as well as its areas of expense
  5. Assisting the organization’s leadership in program and financial planning
  6. Helping advance the organization within the community through personal advocacy and promotion—in becoming a bona fide AMBASSADOR
  7. Supporting the organization as a charitable organization, realizing its dependency upon charitable support of its programs, services and overhead
  8. Helping plan the maintenance and expansion of the organization’s properties and facilities from which it renders its programs and services to the communities it serves
  9. Participating in the planning, preparation and operation of a capital campaign, if and when such is deemed appropriate

The Role of the Organization’s President/CEO with the Board
I believe wholeheartedly it is absolutely critical for Board members to feel that the organization’s top leader is interested in the efforts of the Board and has a very real appreciation for their many efforts. And then shows it.  Too many times, this is either neglected, relegated to a lesser staffer or given “lip service” by the organization’s chief executive. I know that this can result in a Board having less than the optimal level of enthusiasm for the organization we all want to see.

With that in mind, here is my list of “Top Ten Responsibilities” of the CEO when interacting with the organization’s Board members:

  1. Share information about the organization’s programs and services with Board members so they are prepared to be even more effective AMBASSADORS within the community
  2. Educate the Board about the organization’s policies
  3. Make certain that Board members are communicated within a timely manner about developments/issues which may impact the organization within the community (this includes the good, the bad or possibly the ugly); most Board members really don’t want to be surprised by hearing of issues “after the fact”
  4. Attend as many of the regularly scheduled Board meetings as possible and if not possible, assign a significant member of the leadership team
  5. Share with the Board the organization’s financial position and help identify specific needs requiring specific funding
  6. Ensure that the Board holds an annual meeting—the “care holders” meeting, and attend
  7. Be available to accompany Board members on visits with those in the community possessing great influence and affluence
  8. Make certain that the Development Department has the necessary resources to support the Board in its awareness and advocacy efforts
  9. Within an appropriate period of time, make the effort to meet each member of the Board one-on-one
  10. Be a personal donor to the organization—“practice what you preach”

Why Board Members Lose Interest
Lastly, one of the laments I have heard far too often over the years is about how difficult it is to not only recruit great Board members, but to keep them. If you fit into that category, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I assigning members realistic goals?
  2. Are they receiving sufficient detail for carrying out their responsibilities?
  3. Am I allowing Board members sufficient opportunity to provide feedback? And am I listening?
  4. Am I adequately recognizing/appreciating their efforts?
  5. Am I providing ample opportunity for them to make a decision?
  6. Is the work they are tasked to accomplish truly challenging?
  7. Am I providing members with sufficient preparation and training to ensure they are successful?

No one ever said that managing volunteers was easy, especially when it comes to Board members. They can be demanding or complacent, overbearing or invisible, fully engaged or there just for lunch (if a Board member calls in advance to ask “what are we having for lunch” you most likely have a problem on your hands!).

Your task in managing these fine people is to do all you can to see their experience is a time of real enrichment, both for them and most relatedly, for your organization.

Want more tips for effectively managing Board members?  JB+A Senior Vice President John Marshall has more than 40 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. You can reach John at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com or at 816.914.3780.

The Need for Estate Planning

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Stewardship, Strategic Planning | No Comments

John+Marshal+for+webJohn F. Marshall, Senior Vice President

Really successful Planned Giving officers are those who understand how important it is to impress upon their organization’s donors the need to engage in good, thoughtful estate planning. And, estate planning is far more than just creating a will, although that is normally a cornerstone to creating one’s estate plan. They also understand that when addressing estate planning with donors, the “cookie cutter” approach does not apply. “One size does not fit all.”

As you consider addressing estate planning with your organization’s donors, keep in mind that estate planning is also not a do-it-yourself undertaking. Critical decisions will need to be addressed by the donor which will often require input from a professional estate planner. Helping your donors begin to understand estate planning can start with a simple definition:

“Estate planning is the process of thoughtfully providing for the efficient transfer of one’s assets to their heirs and charitable interests in full accordance with their wishes.”

Once crafted, the well thought out and constructed estate plan, in addition to how one’s estate will be distributed, affirms what kind of legacy an individual will leave behind and the impact it will have on future generations.

Estate planning is not just for the rich or older people. Everyone should be engaged in this important undertaking. It can certainly begin by writing a will, but estate planning can also involve:

  • trusts
  • changing beneficiaries of life insurance policies and retirement accounts
  • selecting guardians for minor children
  • providing lifetime giving for oneself or others
  • minimizing taxes and other estate settlement costs
  • much more

As stated earlier, “One size does not fit all,” and this truly needs to be addressed with your donors. There are likely going to be many complex issues to be identified and discussed. You can be most helpful by suggesting they give special attention to:

  • taking a complete inventory of their personal property and assigning realistic values to the assets
  • making a list of their intended beneficiaries and noting any characteristics that may determine the method and circumstances according to which certain assets are assigned
  • making certain the spouse is “in the loop” with regard to plans; such coordination can lead to additional savings for the estate, and it can make great sense for one’s plans to be shared with as many family members as possible
  • and importantly — providing complete information to their estate planner to ensure that one’s final wishes are accurately and ultimately fulfilled

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that stewardship and estate planning go hand in hand. Good stewardship is a lifestyle and a process, not just isolated actions or individual events. The successful Planned Giving officer understands this and will strive to assist donors towards making thoughtful decisions about their estate, decisions that can create a lasting legacy of caring and compassion.

Are you interested in learning more about Estate Planning? JB+A can help you and your organization promote Planned Giving to your constituents. Contact John F. Marshall at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com or call 816-237-1999.