Maximizing Impact: Integrating Planned Giving with Volunteer Programs


Planned giving can be one of the most powerful things a donor can do for a nonprofit and one of the proudest achievements a nonprofit organization can have. Planned giving is a sign of your nonprofit’s commitment to their volunteers, which begets their commitment to you. So, how do you make the most of plannaed giving to continue rewarding future volunteers?

First, let’s define planned giving. Planned giving is the act of a significant financial commitment over a donor’s lifetime or at their time of death. These bequests (or bequeathments) are large acts that involve legal writing in a donor’s will and oftentimes discussions with their family. 

These bequests can be large sums of money, real estate, and other physical holdings, meaning they make the bulk of planned giving. Knowing how to turn this huge potential for philanthropy into actionable improvements for your future volunteers can be a game-changer for your organization.

The Role of Volunteer Programs in Nonprofits

Before we get into what planned giving can do for your volunteer programs, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with what volunteer programs should be doing. Your volunteer program is the system by which you recruit, engage, and retain volunteers. It’s often the glue that holds your organization together.

Robust and healthy volunteer programs are how the most successful nonprofits continue to build capacity and develop events and community partnerships. Working together with your volunteers to create a stronger sense of community and better achievement of your mission is crucial to success, whether you’re incorporating planned giving or not.

With that out of the way, let’s figure out how you can act on planned giving and bequests to the best of your ability.

The Synergy of Planned Giving and Volunteer Programs

So, volunteer programs are what bring volunteers in and then keep them volunteering with your organization, and planned giving is the final act donors make to give your organization a postmortem gift in their will. You might already see the synergy here, but if you don’t, that’s fine.

One goal of your volunteer program should be to encourage and empower donors to make bequests while the bequests and planned giving can be funneled back into bettering your volunteer program, which in turn encourages more bequests and planned giving. You can create a self-perpetuating cycle of engaged, happy volunteers who then become planned donors.

If you integrate planned giving into your volunteer programs, you can offer help and encouragement related to the legal steps of planned giving. Changing wills takes time, but if you empower volunteers to donate throughout the program, then they know long ahead of time that planned giving is an option.

Increasing your planned giving means larger donations, more frequently. Increased budget means you can continue to develop your volunteer programs and make them more engaging, rewarding, and community-building. Planned giving and volunteer programs synergize perfectly if you put the effort into incorporating one into the other.

Identifying Bequest Donors Within the Volunteer Base

A crucial part of the incorporation process is identifying bequest donors within your volunteer base. Telling anyone who volunteers with you to give you their house when they die isn’t the most effective tactic, but properly identifying potential planned givers helps you take action on the right fronts to encourage more bequests.

To this end, donor segmentation is hugely important. If you can categorize donors by potential donors, active donors, and the most active, most giving donors, then you can identify who is most likely—and most capable—of giving a large bequest in their will. Not everyone who volunteers is willing to give money, and not everyone who gives money is willing or able to give the large gifts common in planned giving, so segment your donors and identify them accordingly.

Once you have them categorized, you can identify the most likely bequest honors by numerous factors, including wealth and age. Older, wealthier donors are in better positions to add bequests to their will, but there are other potential donors, too. Here’s a list of the types of people who most need wills, so knowing which donors might have wills and be willing to add your organization to them can be very helpful.

Where to Go with Planned Giving

The benefits of bequests are many and their importance to planned giving is huge. Large gifts of land, art, and/or money can secure your organization’s future, so be sure you’re investing properly in encouraging these types of donations.

Having a robust volunteer program means you have engaged volunteers who are more likely to donate, and having more donors means you have more potential bequests. The potential for long-term sustainability and beneficial impact in your organization is nearly limitless.

Author: Geng Wang

Author: Geng Wang

CEO, Civic Champs


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