How to Identify Planned Gift Prospects

by William J. Moran, J.D., M.S.Ed.

How do you identify individuals that might be interested in making a planned gift to your organization?  You need a systematic method of identifying these prospects.  Of course, not all planned gift donors fit into a “profile”, but many do. Following, you will find a list of the traditional characteristics of planned gift donors:

  • Older (60 and up)
  • Single (never married, divorced or widowed)
  • Without children
  • Often female
  • Past history of involvement with the organization
  • Have appreciated property (stock, real estate etc.)

Ways of identifying prospects include the following:

  1. Prospect Identification Sessions.  A prospect meeting with “true blue” supporters to go down donor lists can yield names of those who might have some of the above characteristics.
  2. One-on-One Visits.  The best way to identify prospects is to go out and meet with them. Spending one hour in someone’s living room listening to their interests and needs will help qualify prospects better than any other method.
    Referrals. Referrals are a good source of prospects. Other staff, donors, and allied professionals (attorneys, CPA’s, financial planners, etc.) are often your best sources for planned gift prospects.
  3. Mailings.  Another good way to identify prospects is the use of special planned giving mailings that include a reply device. (Refer to the Mailings section on page 25 and 26.)
  4. “Check-off” Boxes on Reply Devices.  Putting “check-off” boxes on reply envelopes and reply cards for those who would like information about how to “leave a bequest” to your organization is a low cost way to identify prospects and create planned gift awareness.
  5. Segmentation of Certain Constituent Groups.  Often an organization will have certain groups of supporters who are more likely to make planned gifts. For example, a hospital may have an auxiliary group of volunteers made up primarily of older females. This is a natural group to target for planned gifts.

Bill Moran, The Moran Company, specializes in nonprofit executive searches
for executive directors, fundraising staff and other top nonprofit leadership.

© 2008 The Moran Company
“We find great nonprofit executives

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