Planned Giving and Professional Advisor Outreach
on 2-10 Hours Per Week
A Toolkit of the Women’s Funding Network
By Lisa Tracy and Barbara Zimmerman
This Toolkit is for women and girls’ foundations that are seeking to launch a planned giving (PG)
program, or to raise money through an existing PG program. Part B of the Toolkit is for funds that wish to
build relationships with lawyers and financial advisors in order to attract new donors or to increase the
frequency and size of major and planned gifts from existing donors. We are persuaded that any women’s
foundation, whether brand-new or well-established, can bring in new money by pursuing focused planned
giving and advisor work just 2-10 hours per week.
How do we know this is possible?
In 2002, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFM) hired a planned giving expert to spend
10 hours per week developing its PG program. Within 2 years, WFM had already raised $6
million in planned gifts and pledges.
Also in 2002, a small women’s fund, Chrysalis Foundation, boosted its endowment from
$350,000 to nearly $9 million after the founder left a substantial planned gift in her will.
Several women’s funds have brought in large planned gifts by building relationships with
professional advisors who advise existing donors or who have referred new donors.
So, let’s begin.
Table of Contents
Part A: Planned giving
I. The case for planned giving
What is planned giving?
More reasons why we should all have planned giving programs
Is our fund really ready for a planned giving program?
II. Types of planned gifts
Gifts of securities
Charitable remainder trusts
Charitable lead trusts
Charitable gift annuities
III. Creating your planned giving program
Get an instant education in planned giving
Identify long-term goals
Draft your annual budget
Obtain buy-in: Staff and board
Create year-1 goals and workplan
IV. Setting up your administration and infrastructure
Figure out your staffing
Create a gift acceptance policy
V. Marketing and working with donors
Legacy societies and donor recognition
Stationery and newsletters
Your first direct mail piece
Mention planned giving everywhere
Working with donors – and returning to your board
What if the donor is interested in something more complex than a bequest?
Gift crediting and thank-you system
When a donor dies
Go forward confidently
VI. Action Plan
Part B: Building relationships with professional advisors
I. Why work with advisors?
II. Working with your donors’ advisors around their planned gifts
III. Getting referrals: Easy Steps
IV. Getting referrals: Advanced Steps
V. Tips for Communicating with advisors
VI. Who are the advisors?
Part C: Special considerations and Resource lists
Women’s funds within community foundations
International and non-U.S. women’s funds
Resources on planned giving
Resources on advisors
List of template attachments
We will often be referring to “attachments” to this Toolkit. These are template marketing and
administrative tools that are located on the WFN members-only Web. You may download them and adapt
them for your use. They include sample brochures and marketing materials, gift acceptance policies,
presentations to professional advisors, and other items, created by another WFN member fund or by the
authors. WFN and you as a member fund have received permission to adapt and use any of these
Marketing materials: donors
Legacy Brochure: Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
“I Will” Legacy Brochure: Atlanta Women’s Foundation
“Would Consider” letter (information for donors about how to leave foundation in will)
Legacy Circle reply form
Planned giving call script (to call prospective donors to determine interest)
Thank-you letter to donors
Logo for WFM legacy circle
Marketing materials: Professional advisors
Dallas Women’s Fund PowerPoint (presentation to advisors about planned giving)
Advisors Brochure template for women’s fund
October Letter to Advisors
Advisor Directory Cover Letter
Board/staff training materials
Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFM) PowerPoint presentation to board
Maine Women’s Fund PowerPoint presentation (board training on planned giving)
Board Development Grid (to encourage board members’ planned gifts)
“Women and the intergenerational transfer of wealth” article by Christine Zachai
WFM Planned Giving Manual (policy for planned gifts)
Women’s Foundation of Colorado planned giving manual (policy for planned gifts)
Harvest PowerPoint presentation (steps to processing a planned gift after someone dies)
The case for planned giving
What is planned giving?
Planned giving refers simply to major gifts, either during a donor’s lifetime or at death, that require a bit
of financial planning by the donor before they are made.
An emerging, alternate term for planned giving is “gift planning.” Some foundations prefer this term
because it is not as “heavy” as Planned Giving and it conveys more of a sense of immediacy. Another
term – this one inspiring to donors who emphasize making a long-lasting impact after they die – is
Let’s debunk some planned giving myths right now:
Myth #1: Planned giving is a bummer, because you only get the money when your donor dies.
Reality: Some planned gifts, such as current gifts of stock or charitable lead trusts, get money to
your fund immediately – not when the donor dies. As for gifts that occur at the donor’s death –
such as “bequests” (gifts) from her will – she is probably very proud to leave a legacy via a
donation to your fund. Donors are thrilled to know that something good will come after their
Broadly speaking, a planned gift is really any gift – during lifetime or at death – that is made
from a donor’s non-cash assets, such as stocks and bonds, a pension fund, personal residence, real
estate, life insurance, art, or shares in a family business. In the U.S. (and likewise in other
Western countries), 91% of wealth takes the form of non-cash assets. If you don’t have a PG
program, you’re fundraising from only 9% of a donor’s assets – her cash.
Myth #2: Planned giving is only for donors over age 70.
Reality: If have a young donor base, there is still a lot you can do. The average age period for
creation of first wills and the first charitable trust is the 40-49 age group! Wealthy people in their
20s and 30s are sometimes looking for opportunities to gift highly appreciated assets such as
stocks and real estate, as a way of avoiding or reducing capital gains taxes and income taxes.
Donors in their 20s and 30s can and do ask their parents, grandparents, and other elders to include
in their wills “philanthropic funds” (direct donations or donor-advised funds) for the younger
Myth #3: But gifts of assets are technical, and hard to process.
Reality: Ninety percent of planned giving is about inspiring your donors. The technical piece is
only 10%. Your job is to excite donors with the idea of making a planned gift. Once you have a
donor interested, you can always refer her to a professional advisor, who can figure out any
technical details. You do not need to be a tax whiz.
If you receive a non-cash asset, such as stock, most likely you will sell it right away. So your
foundation won’t have to manage the asset, and it will quickly be converted into useful cash.
You can encourage the donor to create a charitable trust and make your foundation the
beneficiary (recipient) – without getting involved in the trust management at all. Those particular
responsibilities (management and trustee duties) fall to the donor and her advisors.
Some gifts (such as real estate) are indeed trickier to handle. When you create a gift acceptance
policy for your foundation, a consultant or lawyer will help you figure out how to handle more
Myth #4: Marketing planned giving will detract from our other fundraising efforts.
Reality: Studies show that donors who make planned gifts usually continue to give to the annual
fund or to make other major gifts. Planned giving just provides the donor with additional ways to
give. Many planned gifts come from donors who have contributed very little to the annual fund
(say, $30/year). These donors may have small incomes but possess substantial other assets.
Myth #5: You’ll need a planned giving specialist on staff.
Reality: Two of the women’s funds we talked to have hired planned giving specialists, but many
more did just fine by encouraging the fundraising director or executive director to learn a little
about planned giving. “Dallas has no staff dedicated specifically to planned giving, yet we are
still very successful,” shares Becky Sykes.
More on why we should all have planned giving programs
Why start talking up planned giving with donors? Because loyal donors to your foundation will be
interested in giving in a more tax-wise fashion while they’re alive, and they also want to remember you in
"For the first time in history," says Paul Schervish of Boston College, the principal researcher of the
intergenerational transfer of wealth, "more and more people have more money than they want to leave to
their kids" (The Economist, July 29, 2004). A study by Schervish and John Havens found that between
1998 and 2052, somewhere between $41 trillion and $136 trillion will be transferred from the older
generations to their families, favorite nonprofits, or as taxes to the IRS. Women’s funds are poised to
receive some of this money – as long as they communicate with their donors about planned giving! (Read
about the transfer of wealth at: www.stratphilanthropy.com)
Here are some other great reasons:
Bequests from wills are growing exponentially. The amount of bequest dollars flowing to U.S.
charities is projected to multiply by 17 times from 1998 levels to 2018.
On average, planned gifts are 100 times larger than annual gifts. Why? The donor is
probably giving from non-cash assets. Also, in making a planned gift, she is making a statement
about her dedication to your foundation. A typical $500/year donor will leave $50,000 to you in
You won’t get this money unless you ask. When queried as to why they made a planned gift to
a charity, most donors say: Because they asked me! If you don’t ask, your donor is likely to
make that gift to another organization – no doubt a group that did talk to her about planned
giving. NCPG’s research report, Planned Giving in the United States 2000: A Survey of Donors
found that donors are very unlikely to provide for a charity in their will unless they are asked
directly by the charity to do so.
Planned giving is a way to reach big fundraising targets via a new method. You can plug
planned giving into your existing endowment or capital campaign. Women’s Foundation of
California has built most of its endowment this way.
Big vision, astronomical money. Suppose Schervish’s most conservative estimate for the
transfer of wealth ($41 trillion) is correct. If we could redirect just 0.2% of that to women and
girls’ foundations, then each year our movement would be getting $4 billion in planned gifts.
That’s $27 million per year in planned gifts flowing to each and every member of the
Women’s Funding Network! Or: $400,000 apiece annually for each of 10,000 women’s
Setting up a planned giving program is one of the most radical ways to serve the entire
women’s movement. On average, your grantees are probably much smaller and less stable than
you are. Because of their uncertain continuity, they will have a hard time attracting or managing
planned gifts from donors. Thus, your grantees might have a very hard time cashing in on the
intergenerational wealth transfer. By setting up a planned giving program, you’re creating a
mechanism for them to partake. Imagine being able to “channel” $27 million of the wealth
transfer to your favorite grantees every year!
If it doesn’t go to your foundation, it might just go to the IRS. Many donors to women and
girls’ foundations do not agree with the way their federal tax dollars are spent. Often, planned
gifts can be arranged to legally “divert” to your foundation money that normally goes to the
federal government (via income tax, estate tax, gift tax, etc.). Some donors are tickled to learn
that, by making a planned gift to you, they are disinheriting not their family but the IRS.
Your legacy. It’s now 2018. You may or may not still be working at the same foundation. But
millions of dollars in planned gifts are flowing in. You negotiated those legacy gifts in 2004,
2005, 2006. As a fundraiser, this is your major legacy to the foundation and to the
grantees/movement it serves.
Planned giving potential of women
There are some very encouraging statistics about women’s potential around planned giving. Because
women outlive men, women inherit almost 70% of all estates (Association of Baltimore Area Grant
Makers, The Potential of Women as Donors). So the $41 trillion+ intergenerational transfer of wealth is
overwhelmingly going to accrue to women. Meanwhile, small (privately-held) businesses are now 48%
women-owned – meaning women are expected to gather greater earned wealth as well as inherited
Women are increasingly comfortable making planned gifts with their inheritances and earned wealth. Of
the largest major gifts and planned gifts around the U.S., women are rapidly catching up with men, in
terms of gift size and frequency. (See the attachment by Christine Zachai, “Times They Are A-Changin’:
Women & $41 Trillion” on the WFN Web site). Planned giving, especially methods that generate income
during one’s life, are logical options for older women who may worry about having enough income
during their lifetime.
Is our fund really ready for a planned giving program?
We take exception to the idea that a PG program requires a certain number of donors or a minimum
number of years of existence. Remember: 91% of what the average donor can give you is in the form of
non-cash assets. Even the tiniest fund benefits by presenting to prospective donors all the possible ways
they can give those assets.
New foundations: Your donor base, staff, and budget are probably very small. But you can take a couple
of easy, costless “baby steps” towards a PG program. In all of your fundraising communications with
prospective donors, remind them that there are many ways to give. Make it easy for them to give you a
gift of stock; to put you in their will; or to make you the beneficiary of their retirement accounts or life
insurance. Your fundraising materials and website should specify how they can do that. Get a bare-bones
education in planned giving – through this Toolkit, Debra Ashton’s book, or reading the NCPG website –
so that you’ll be prepared to discuss the simpler PG options with any donor.
Smaller foundations, 2-8 years old or with a small donor base: Consider establishing a Legacy Society.
In your literature and donor interactions, start mentioning more complex gifts (such as charitable
remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts). Consider creating a gift acceptance policy and a more
proactive marketing plan. That should include visits with 5-30 donors who you think might be PG
prospects. Also, get to know 5-10 professional advisors and start inviting them to your events.
Established foundations with larger donor bases: Most likely, some parts of your PG program are in
place and other parts are not. Read through the step-by-step in this Toolkit and decide which pieces are
missing from your existing program. Do you have brochures or other literature, but very few planned gifts
pledged? That is a very common scenario. Brochures do not sell a PG program; donor visits do. Consider
rekindling the commitment of your Board, perhaps by doing a presentation and creating (or replacing) a
Planned Giving Committee. And then the staff and board need to go out and visit 30-100 donors over the
next 2-3 years.
As one of the more “established” (21-year-old) funds, in 2002 the Women’s Foundation
of Minnesota decided it needed to revive and build its PG program. The staff secured
board support for a renewed PG action plan and budget. When Barbara Zimmerman
was hired as a combined major gifts and PG staff, she established a Planned Giving
Handbook and gift acceptance policy. She created an age overlay in the donor database,
revealing that 500 donors met the age and gift criteria as good planned giving prospects:
Donors 50+ years in age who were consistent, annual givers (three or more gifts in their
lifetimes). On the strength of this large donor pool, WFM created a charitable gift
annuity program. WFM also built a wide network of relationships with professional
If you would like to read more about whether you’re ready for a PG program, see the article at the Web
site of National Committee on Planned Giving: www.ncpg.org/resources/guide_start.asp?section=5.
Types of planned gifts
This section will help give you an idea of what types of planned gifts there are, and which ones to focus
on. We are deliberately brief. Comprehensive information on types of planned gifts is readily available on
the Internet and in many books.
Eighty percent of planned gifts are simply gifts from your donor’s will or living trust. (Some donors have
“living trusts” in place of a will – and it works about the same.) These types of gifts are known as
“bequests.” A donor writes in her will or living trust that she wants you to receive a certain dollar amount,
or a percentage of her assets (estate), when she dies. If you are a small or a young foundation and are not
sure you are ready for planned giving, consider simply informing your donors (and inserting in your
regular literature) to “please remember us in your will.”
Gifts of retirement assets
When your donor dies, her retirement accounts - including Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs),
401(k) or 403(b) accounts, pension plans and similar vehicles - are passed to whomever she has
designated as the beneficiary in the account paperwork, regardless of what she has written in her will. (If
her new will says she wants her IRA to go to your Foundation, but her old IRA paperwork still has her
brother designated as the recipient, it will go to her brother – not to you.)
So, if your donor indicates a desire to leave you substantial support, encourage her to look at naming you
in her retirement accounts in addition to her will or living trust. In addition, be aware that retirement
assets are especially appealing to leave to charity because otherwise they will be reduced by income taxes
when your donor dies.
Current gifts of securities (stocks and bonds)
In contrast to the above two types of gifts, securities are gifts you can receive during your donor’s lifetime
– meaning right now. Even if this is Day 1 of your existence as a foundation, you should inform donors
that they can make these gifts (usually these are stocks that have appreciated in value). Here’s how it
works: You set up a Foundation brokerage account with a financial advisor. Ask the advisor/broker for
detailed instructions about how a donor can make a gift of stock. Have that information available for the
donor. The donor gives the stock to your brokerage account. Once you have it in your account, you
instruct your advisor/broker to sell it right away. Now you can spend the cash. It is very easy. More
importantly, if you solicit a donor for a stock donation, she will often give you a much larger donation
than if you just ask for a check. Normally the donor will receive both an income tax deduction and a
capital gains tax exemption – meaning she can afford to give you about twice as much donation at the
same “cost” to her.
Be sure to put onto your Web site instructions for stock donations. Maine Women’s Fund
has received dozens of gifts of stock, including two very large gifts totaling $400,000. “It
helps that very precise instructions for stock gifts are posted on our Web site,” says the
Fund’s Karin Anderson.
This is another easy gift to accept even if this is Day 1 for you as a foundation. Your donor can list you as
the “contingent” beneficiary of her life insurance policy – meaning that you will receive the proceeds if
her primary beneficiaries (usually children) are no longer alive when she dies.
Some donors receive life insurance automatically as an employee benefit at their workplace. If they don’t
need it for their family, they can designate your foundation as the primary beneficiary.
The best situation (for you) is the donor who bought a “cash” or “whole life” life insurance policy that she
no longer needs. She can donate it to you by simply making you the owner and beneficiary. After you
receive it, you sell it back to the life insurance company for its cash surrender value. The donor is happy
because she gets a charitable income tax deduction and she no longer has to pay the premiums, which can
amount to several thousand dollars per year.
There are other variations of a life insurance gift, but for simplicity we’ll leave it at that.
Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs)
Your donor puts cash, securities or real estate into an irrevocable trust. The trust pays income annually to
the donor (or to another beneficiary, such as her sister). When the trust matures – either after a certain
time period (like 20 years) or at her death – the remainder of the trust goes to your Foundation. The donor
may get (depending on the structure) many tax benefits including income tax deductions, capital gains
exemptions, and reduced gift tax or estate tax.
There is a lot of confusion about CRTs among charities. They are known as complicated, so many
charities avoid them entirely. That is a mistake. Even if you are a young women’s fund, you can simply
tell donors that you are happy to be the beneficiary of their CRT. That just means you get the payout
when the trust matures or when the donor dies. In this easy version (easy for your Foundation, that is), the
Foundation simply does not offer to manage the investments of the CRT or to act as a trustee – both of
which would require taking on management responsibilities and liability that you are not yet prepared to
handle. Your donor can name trustees other than you, and can find a professional investment manager or
bank that specializes in managing CRTs.
When you are at a more advanced stage in your planned giving program, you could consider partnering
with a local bank or trust company that can offer investment management and trustee services to your
donor if she starts a CRT. The bank or trust company accepts the liability. You would probably end up
paying for some of the costs; in exchange, though, donors are often more willing to set up CRTs when
you offer the structure.
Finally, some of the most well-established women’s funds are willing to directly act as trustee to a CRT.
Women’s Foundation of Minnesota will co-trustee with a large fiduciary institution if WFM is named to
receive more that 50 percent of the trust’s remainder. As co-trustee, WFM is liable if anything goes
wrong. So why would a women’s fund agree to be a trustee? The thinking is that you are saving the donor
annual trustee fees she would otherwise pay to someone else, thus doing her a favor and further
encouraging the gift. If you would like to consider this, it’s a complex subject and you should engage
your planned giving lawyer.
Charitable lead trusts (CLTs)
Charitable lead trusts are a well-kept secret. You should market them actively to your wealthier donors.
Your donor puts cash, securities or real estate into an irrevocable trust. The trust usually starts paying an
annual income to your Foundation immediately. At the end of the trust period, what remains of the trust is
paid to the donor or to her designated beneficiaries, such as children. A lead trust is an excellent way for
your Foundation to get current money through planned giving. It is most advantageous for donors who
have large estates with rapidly appreciating assets. The lead trust accomplishes two of your donor’s goals:
She can dramatically increase her lifetime annual giving to you; while reducing future estate taxes for
herself and her heirs. Lead trusts are often very large. Example: A donor sets up a lead trust with $2
million. The trust pays your Foundation $100,000 per year for 15 years, after which whatever is left
reverts to the donor or heirs.
As with charitable remainder trusts, even if you are a small foundation, there is no reason why you can’t
simply agree to be beneficiary of a charitable lead trust, without agreeing to take on any responsibility for
managing or acting as trustee of the trust. The donor simply sets up the trust, finds her own investment
manager and trustees, and lists you as beneficiary; you receive large annual cash payouts.
Charitable gift annuities
Charitable gift annuities are for well-established women’s funds with large donors bases (or for women’s
funds working within community foundations that already offer this product). They are similar to
charitable remainder trusts, but you must administer them yourself. You would set up a gift annuity
program through a state regulatory office. Your donor gives you cash or assets, in return for which you
agree to pay the donor an annual income payment for life. They are good for donors who need retirement
income and who can donate something in the range of $10,000-$100,000. This Toolkit does not cover
setup of gift annuity programs because the regulations and practicalities vary considerably from state to
state. Consult your planned giving lawyer or consultant.
Assets you might accept
If you are a well-established fund, consider formulating a gift acceptance policy that allows you to accept
unusual gifts such as real estate, art, boats, or other personal property on a case-by-case basis. Community
foundations and large nonprofits in hotbeds of highly appreciated real estate (such as New York)
sometimes raise over 40% of their planned gifts via real estate donations. However, real estate donations
require a considerable due diligence and inspection process prior to receipt of the gift, and then you must
sell the property on the open market after you receive it. You may decide to tell donors you will consider
real estate gifts on a case-by-case basis, and then evaluate them based on the size of the gift and the
marketability of the property. Bring in a planned giving lawyer to help with due diligence – even if that
costs you $5000. For a $1 million gift, it might be well worth the time and expense!
Note for private foundations
This Toolkit is written for public women’s foundations that raise money from the public. However, as a
private women’s foundation, you too can raise planned gifts – from your trustees – to increase your
foundation’s endowment. For your trustee/donor, the tax and legal implications of giving to a private
foundation differ from giving to a private foundation. Make sure your trustees have access to a good legal
Creating your planned giving program
Get an instant education on PG basics
Spend a few hours familiarizing yourself with PG now. This will help you to form realistic expectations
and objectives for your PG program, and will increase your persuasiveness in gaining buy-in from staff or
Information on PG topics -- ranging from trusts to tax advantages to thanking the donor -- is widely
available on the Web and in other publications. So, while you can use this Toolkit for general action
planning and templates, to be truly successful you should also check out the more comprehensive
resources available elsewhere. You can find the answer to every possible question you might have by
looking up the following publications and Internet sites.
Consider doing the following now:
1. Go to the members-only section of the WFN’s Web site and listen to WFN’s 90-minute Online
Training on planned giving.
2. If you’re a U.S. fund, order Debra Ashton’s book, The Complete Guide to Planned Giving, 2004
(www.debraashton.com). Yes, it costs $100, but it’s far and away the best thing out there, easy to
read, and it will save you hours of labor or consultant costs. If you can’t immediately persuade
your colleagues to allow this expense, include it in the proposed PG budget that you will present
to them shortly.
3. Attend the next meeting of your local Planned Giving Council, together with another staff or
board member. You will meet potential consultants, mentors, lawyers and other professional
advisors. You may also learn about local, inexpensive seminars on how to run a PG program. To
find the Council nearest you: In the US, go to www.ncpg.org, click on "planned giving councils,”
and click on “map.” In Europe, see www.plannedgiving.org.uk (which is not limited to the UK)
and in Canada, www.cagp-acpdp.org.
4. If your foundation becomes an NCPG member ($175/year), you’ll get access to online resources
including the Syllabus for Gift Planners, www.ncpg.org. NCPG also sometimes offers Virtual
Seminars for non-members (www.ncpg.org/education_training).
5. Other potential sources of educational programs on PG are your local Association of Fundraising
Professionals or the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Identify long-term goals
Now you need to decide what you need a planned giving program for. You may or may not want to get
your Board of Directors involved at this point.
Most foundations allocate money raised through their PG program to an endowment, or more than one
endowment. PG programs are often plugged right in to a current endowment campaign, or a PG
campaign and endowment campaign are started simultaneously. Foundations like to use PG donations for
the endowment because PG gifts are appropriately large. Moreover, donors like endowments because
they suggest a permanent legacy.
However, there is no rule saying your PG program has to fund an endowment. Many funds just as readily
use PG donations to fund annual operating costs, or to establish donor-advised funds, field-of-interest
funds, or special endowed funds by request of the donor. Do some long and hard thinking about what you
would like the PGs for. Consider both what you need and what donors might be attracted to. A lively
discussion at the Board level might weigh all these factors to help with the decision.
Women’s Foundation of Minnesota is seeing a trend whereby donors are attracted to
making PGs to the Foundation by setting up a donor-advised fund (DAFs) there. The
donor lists the DAF as the beneficiary of her will, trusts, retirement assets, or life
insurance. Donors are particularly attracted to DAFs if they can name a family member
as a “successor donor advisor” to help make grant distributions after the donor dies.
This creates a sort of continuing family philanthropy.
Some foundations decide to raise planned gifts to support multiple initiatives. WFM wrote planned giving
directly into its Strategic Plan:
A. Increase WFM’s fundraising activity to support its $1 million grantmaking goal.
B. Launch issue-oriented campaigns to build the Special Initiatives Fund with contributions from
corporations, foundations and individuals.
C. Offer donors a full complement of giving opportunities with emphasis on unrestricted gifts.
D. Initiate a feasibility study for a new endowment campaign within four years
Chicago Foundation for Women puts unrestricted planned gifts towards its endowment, but also allows
donors to leave legacies to DAFs if they so prefer.
If you can make a compelling case to a donor about why she should fund a capital campaign or annual
fund through a planned gift, go ahead. The important thing is that your case is persuasive.
Some sample objectives for a PG program might be:
“Build a general endowment to $3 million by 2008 and $12 million by 2015”
“Endow a scholarship campaign for girls in science at $1 million by 2006”
“Market PG gifts now, to create a sustainable PG inflow that starts bringing in money after 2006
when our endowment campaign ends”
“Find a donor who will fund our capital campaign (building purchase) through a planned gift”
“Establish $2 million in DAFs, of which 50% must go to our foundation’s initiatives”
“Raise $500,000 in PG expectancies by 2007, and $5 million by 2012, for whatever our needs
dictate at the time (endowment, capital campaign, DAFs, annual needs, etc.)”
Draft your annual budget
Item Ideal budget Bare-bones budget
Part-time PG/devel staff: salary/benefits 30,000 3,000
Consultant 4,000 2,000
Brochures 2,000 1,000
Legacy Society mailing to donors 1,000 1,000
Technology (database/website) 600 200
Planned Giving Council 175 (membership) 60 (1-2 meetings)
Educational materials 300 120 (Ashton book)
Legal counsel 5,000 2,000
Donor visits: travel/meals 2,000 400
Event for PG donors 2,000 200 (for small legacy circle!)
Total $47,075 $9,980
Most foundations will obviously fall somewhere in between. We do not really recommend trying to start a
PG program with serious marketing needs on the bare-bones budget unless you are a startup foundation
with no other choice. Doing PG well requires some commitment. A board would signal its commitment
by designating at least $20,000 per year to planned giving efforts.
Obtain buy-in: the staff and board
According to the NCPG, the #1 predictor of fundraising results for your PG program is the extent of your
foundation’s up-front commitment and planning.
It’s important that the PG program be approved in the early, strategic plan stage. Your board and senior
management staff must be fully committed, enthusiastic and supportive before you start marketing
planned gifts. They must put their money where their mouth is, by approving a PG budget and by giving
the development staff and/or a consultant the time, space and moral support to be successful.
If you’re lucky, a positive planned giving culture was already in place when you were hired. If it’s not,
you’ll have to bring people along.
At some point very soon, the board will need to be engaged. Your goal is to excite board members,
obtain a board resolution supporting the creation or upgrading of the PG program, and perhaps create a
PG committee consisting of board members and others.
The steps in this Toolkit are not written in stone. You might feel it’s more appropriate to involve the
board at the earliest possible stage – before you’ve developed draft PG objectives, budget, or action plans.
On the other hand, sometimes it feels more organized to draft all of that, perhaps with feedback from
other staff or even consultants, before taking it to the board.
You might be working for years on PG before you get the first big gift. Therefore, it’s especially
important to educate board and staff on the long-term nature of the PG payoff. Show them the stats on
the intergenerational wealth transfer and remind them that you will have to invest focused time and
money now in order to collect later.
Board presentations: You can download and modify two Toolkit PowerPoint attachments for board
presentations – by Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and Maine Women’s Funds. Adapt these for
presentation to your own board. A great board presentation explains PG and some of the gift vehicle types
to the board; underlines the advantages of a PG program; presents draft PG goals and ties them in to the
foundation’s other goals (such as the endowment campaign); and suggests possible roles for board
members or a committee. Initial board presentations might last just 1-2 hours, but organizations that are
really serious about PG often follow up with a full-day educational session for the board (and/or staff) in
the first year.
“Boards need to be educated in order to clarify the role of board when it comes to
planned giving (especially for smaller women’s fund). First, educate them on the process
of planned giving. There also needs to be some focus on helping women’s funds to
develop opportunities to partner with advisors. Teach them what they can expect as an
outcome. Remind them that this is a long-term outcome.” – Joel Davis, advisor to Maine
Board resolution: What do you want your board to agree to? What would a board resolution look like?
Adopt PG goals as tied in to foundation’s other goals
Amend the strategic plan by inserting PG language
Adopt budget for Year 1
Commit to 5 or 10 years of supporting this budget, or a PG budget that rises 5-10%/year
Agree that each board member will help with donor prospecting or asks, the marketing plan,
and/or a personal planned gift
Agree with executive director’s recommendation that staff spend x amount of time on the PG
Form a PG committee (optional)
Planned giving committee: This is optional, and depends on your size and style of work. If you have a
large board that already has a development or fundraising committee, consider creating a separate planned
giving committee as well. This committee might consist of interested board members, your legal counsel,
PG donors, someone good at marketing, and/or professional advisors. The purpose of this committee is to
identify and help you cultivate prospects; assist in securing planned giving commitments (including
meeting with donors); and advise in the creation of PG marketing plan. More than one Committee
member should be willing to lead by example by creating their own PG to the WF. They should also be
willing to meet regularly (perhaps quarterly) and to help you with donor asks. Each person commits to
either raising money or donating professional skills.
Staff: Every staff member should understand and morally support the PG efforts. Sometimes it’s a
challenge to be persistent about planned giving when the money isn’t flowing in yet. Consider allowing
the full staff to join board meetings on PG. Ask your staff to read this Toolkit and to participate in
creating proposals you would like to take to the board. You could even consider asking the staff to make
planned gifts before going to the board!
“My strategy for starting a planned giving program: I intend to add the women’s fund to
my will, and then I will invite my advisory committee members to do so. I hope my
advisory board members will then take it to the board of the community foundation, and
then have it spread from there.” - Miriam Barnett, Fund for Women and Girls, Greater
Tacoma Community Foundation
Create Year 1 goals and workplan
By their nature, PG results are unpredictable. You could get a $10 million gift from a donor who dies
tomorrow. Or you might work on PG for 7-10 years before any significant cash starts coming in. The
latter might be more likely than the former. Remember, though – you’re doing a planned giving program
so that your organization can thrive in the long term. Community foundations and large nonprofits have
generally had to wait about 10-15 years to see big results for their PG programs.
Where are the women’s funds on planned giving?
According to WFN’s 2003 fundraising survey:
35% of WFs have PG programs
Another 16 (25%) intended to start one in 2004
3 had a dedicated PG officer; 2 contracted with consultants
About 50% of WFs have or intend to start an endowment campaign, with
a median goal of $1-3 million
One-on-one interviews revealed that several WFs have 50-120 known
donor pledges of future planned gifts
Larger U.S. nonprofits expect up to 25-30% of income to be coming in from planned gifts after their
programs have been in place for 10-15 years. (That percentage will likely approach 50% as the
intergenerational transfer of wealth comes into play.)
Since it is so difficult to set short-term goals for PG-dollars-coming-in-the-door, most organizations set
dollar objectives only for the very long-term (10-30 years) and “milestones” or “activity objectives” for
the 1-year and 5-year periods.
Based on very preliminary surveys, the median size of a planned gift to a women’s foundation appears to
be about $100,000. (In reality, gifts will vary in size from $10 to $10+ million.)
It takes 3 asks to achieve one planned gift.
If you are familiar with the concept of a “gift pyramid,” you know you must work backwards. If you
intend to raise $500,000 in “gift expectancies” (pledged gifts that don’t necessarily come in immediately)
by the end of 2005, you might achieve that through one gift of $250,000, three gifts of $50,000, and 10
gifts of $10,000. That’s 14 donor gifts. To achieve 14 donor gifts, you might have to ask 14 x 3 = 42
The reality is that many programs reach and exceed their goals by focusing on big “lead gifts.” Identify
prospects for lead gifts – the “charter members” of your new Legacy Society. A board member might be
an ideal prospect for a large lead gift.
Your success in reaching both short- and long-term PG goals will also depend on your fundraising history
and number of donor prospects; degree of board commitment; and your budget, especially for donor
Setting up your administration and infrastructure
You do not need to hire a full-time planned giving staff to succeed at planned giving. Since planned
giving is more about talking to donors than it is about the technicalities, your executive director and/or
fundraisers can learn the basics just fine.
Planned giving consultant. During the startup phase, you may feel more comfortable hiring a local
planned giving consultant, just to check that you’re on the right track. A consultant can be brought on at
one of three levels: (1) To answer your occasional questions, as you run the program yourself. Most
consultants will agree to work “on call” without requiring you to sign a retainer. (2) To help you with
certain tasks: To inspire/explain PG to your board; to train your fundraising or operations staff; to create
marketing materials or action plans; or to answer donor questions and/or run gift calculations from their
own software. (3) To run your program for you – at perhaps 3-10 hours per week.
Don’t make your donor relations too dependent on your consultant, though. Donors need the consistency
of a relationship with you – not your consultant.
The ideal consultant has skills in two areas: Running a nonprofit’s PG program; and technical knowledge
of PG such that she can draw up and finalize a planned gift. If you don’t find one person who has both
skills, hire someone who knows how to help you run the program, and get the advanced technical
expertise from your lawyer or a professional advisor.
Though there are some superstar planned giving consultants available nationally, we generally
recommend that you find a very local consultant. That consultant will be familiar with local planned
giving resources, great professional advisors and trust companies, and the local planned giving market.
The best way to find a local consultant is to ask members of your local Planned Giving Council who they
work with. If you offer multiple gift vehicles, such as donor-advised funds, try to find a consultant that is
sophisticated in that area.
For more on consultants, see the section, “Resources on planned giving.”
Lawyer. There is no question that you will need a lawyer. Though the lawyer might require a substantial
portion of your planned giving budget, this is simply one area where you can’t skimp. You need a lawyer
who specializes in planned giving. (If you get a lawyer who does not specialize in planned giving – even
if she is a good estate planning attorney – she will be undereducated about how to help your donors to
structure planned gifts, and she may expose you to liability.) You might get an offer from a pro bono
(free) lawyer who doesn’t specialize in planned giving, but it just isn’t worth the risk.
The lawyer’s job is to approve your gift acceptance policy (to ensure compliance with federal and state
laws); to draft and approve endowed-fund agreements or other planned giving agreements; and to help
determine the appropriateness of accepting certain more complicated gifts, such as a proposed real estate
gift. Most importantly: Your lawyer protects you from liability for planned gifts gone awry. She prevents
a messy situation from happening.
Finally, some nonprofits ask their lawyers to help their donors with gift planning ideas, illustrations, or by
drafting a trust that the donor can then take back to her own lawyer. However, this is a controversial topic.
Women’s Foundation of Minnesota does not ask its lawyer to draft gift ideas for the donor, because it
feels there is a conflict of interest: How can the lawyer simultaneously represent the interests of the donor
and the interests of the foundation? Some other women’s foundations do allow their lawyers to advise
donors, because ultimately the foundation’s lawyer is simply providing suggestions, and it’s up to the
donor to decide whether to ask her own lawyer to draft something up. Furthermore, it is very common for
a donor’s attorney to have a poor understanding of charitable planning – so your Foundation’s attorney
can often educate the donor’s attorney.
Find a lawyer that practices in your state. Ideally she will be in your town, so that she can meet with you
and/or with donors if necessary. Ask around at your Planned Giving Council – the best planned giving
lawyers will be there.
Banks and trust companies: Most, though not all women’s foundations use a trust company such as
Northern Trust – or a bank with a big trust department, such as Wells Fargo – to administer bits and
pieces of the planned giving program that might be tricky to administer in-house. Thus the bank is not
running your planned giving program – just doing some back-office chores. For instance, a bank could
calculate precise tax deductions for reporting to a donor; process donations of securities; or provide
general support on administration or planning questions that come up. Like your lawyer, a bank can help
protect your CFO from liability for gifts gone awry. Your planned giving consultant and/or lawyer might
be able to do all of that – but you might obtain that expertise more cheaply through a bank. Sometimes, a
bank will have an excellent attorney who does know planned giving very well – thus you can use the bank
for your administrative and your attorney needs.
If you are a well-established fund and intend to act as trustee and manager of charitable trusts for your
donors – a very advanced option – you definitely need to seek the help of a bank. Banks are also useful in
running gift annuity programs, which tend to be complex.
You might also consider the bank for investment management of your main endowment or any special
Outsourcing: If you would like to start accepting gifts of real estate, art, or other complex assets, look to
the Internet for companies that specialize in this – and that might offer lower fees and/or greater expertise
than your local bank or trust company. For instance, Donation Exchange (www.dnxllc.com) will process
a complex asset for you from A to Z, while removing your CFO from some financial liability.
Figure out your staffing
In its 2003 fundraising survey, WFN found that only 11 member funds (of 63 responding) had
fundraising staff with planned giving expertise. You may decide to hire a consultant, but even if
you do, train your fundraising staff in planned giving by asking them to attend one of the
educational programs mentioned in this Toolkit. Another strategy is to hire a major gifts officer
that has planned giving expertise.
Create a gift acceptance policy
Now we turn to examining the need for a detailed policy covering what types of planned gifts your
foundation will accept and market. Your gift acceptance policy determines which sorts of assets you will
accept (for instance, real estate or no?); where donor gifts will be directed (to an endowment? operating
costs?); how the gift solicitation and management will be conducted; and who is authorized to negotiate
and accept gifts on behalf of the organization.
This needs to be discussed over time with the board, senior management and other committees and then
approved and written into policy. Whether two pages long or 100 pages, whether you decide to only
accept bequests, these policies engage your board and volunteers. The board and the finance, investment,
development committees and others must consider and understand the fundraising and legal implications
of planned gifts. These policies, most importantly, help the board and staff members diplomatically say
no to gifts that simply would not benefit the short and long-term health of the organization. Your policy
needs to be approved by the board of trustees and the Foundation’s legal counsel.
See attachments to this Toolkit for a sample planned giving handbooks and gift acceptance policy. You
may try to cut-and-paste from these documents, but consider that capacities, priorities, and state laws will
differ. So have your staff and your consultant (if applicable) modify the policy so that it meets your needs
(for instance, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has a gift annuity program, but you may not be at that
stage yet). Then take it to your Board and your lawyer.
Marketing and working with donors
Before you read this section, see John Elbare’s website: www.pgcoach.com. John believes that marketing
is 90 percent of planned giving.
Legacy Circles and Donor Recognition
Your major marketing effort will be to consistently remind donors that they can put your foundation in
their will. To do that, you can use graphics on your stationary, newsletter articles, your Web site,
brochures, and direct mail. The advantage of using the word “will” consistently is that (in contrast to
other estate planning/planned giving terms) almost everyone knows what a will is! And, if a donor has left
your foundation in their will, they may consider other planned gifts such as charitable gift annuities or
charitable trusts if you educate them and ask them to do so.
We highly recommend creating a “legacy circle” to which your donors gain admission if they put you in
their will or trust. Give your legacy circle a name. (“Legacy Society” is common, but some women’s
funds dislike the word “society” because of its class connotations.) That way, when you make calls to
donors, you’re asking them: “Would you like to join our Legacy Circle?” rather than: “Will you leave us
money when you die?”
Women’s legacy circles: creative names
Championship Club (Women’s Sports Foundation)
Anne Firth Murray Circle (Global Fund for Women)
I Will for Women Society (Atlanta Women’s Foundation)
Invite all planned givers to join, however small their planned gift and even if the gift is a contingent
The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has its Legacy Circle for Women and
Girls. We use this name and logo on stationary, newsletters and invitations. The
Foundation holds an annual luncheon to honor planned giving donors. The
luncheon’s purpose is to thank and update donors with a great speaker. Theret is
no charge, as we try to get a donor or sponsor to pay for it. The Foundation also
invites Leadership Circle donors ($1,000+ gifts) to the lunch to bring together
both annual and planned giving donors. The luncheon’s program lists all donors
and thanks them for their wonderful support.
If you feel you don’t have time to run an annual event, consider simply creating and naming your legacy
circle and issuing certificates that can be mailed to donors.
Your local Planned Giving Council (see www.ncpg.org) may sponsor a Leave-A-Legacy program -
essentially a subsidized, planned giving marketing program intended to help smaller nonprofits and their
donors. Leave-A-Legacy activities differ by location. They may include helping you to organize planned
giving seminars for donors, create written marketing materials, or work with advisors.
Christine Zachai (Vermont Women’s Fund) says of the new Leave-A-Legacy
chapter covering Vermont and New Hampshire: “We couldn’t afford not to be a
part of this program. One of the first things we did was to put a really nice glossy
full-color insert into most of the local papers. We were asked to do a workshop
on women and philanthropy. We get to use LOL fliers that we put up in office
windows. It’s great source material. It helps us with credibility.”
Shout to the world on your web site that your foundation accepts and welcomes planned gifts. The
Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has just two sentences on planned gifts on its website:
www.wfmn.org. However, a lapsed donor who found our Web site after losing contact called us and gave
a planned gift presently valued at $1 million! Always include a contact name and phone number and your
foundation’s federal tax identification number, and, as your budget increases for such marketing, beef up
your planned giving website! As baby boomers write their wills and consider planned gifts, the web will
be their first stop. Other WFN member Web sites with great planned giving sections include:
The New York Women’s Foundation http://www.nywf.org/donate.html
Global Fund for Women http://www.globalfundforwomen.org
Astraea Lesbian Action Foundation http://www.astraea.org/development/planned.html
Flint Women and Girls Fund http://www.cfgf.org/how.htm
Canadian Women’s Foundation http://www.cdnwomen.org/eng/5/5k.asp
Women’s Sports Foundation http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/
Dallas Women’s Foundation http://www.dallaswomensfoundation.org
Consider titling your Web site “Gift Planning” or “Ways to give” instead of “planned giving” which is
Marketing is more than brochures, but brochures are the first step! Having a brochure that outlines the
types of planned gifts your foundation can offer is helpful for your first planned giving mailing and useful
to give to advisors in a brochure holder so they can keep them handy for their clients. See the Toolkit
attachments for the planned giving brochures of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Atlanta
Women’s Foundation. You have permission to adapt and use the language in these brochures to create
Stationery and newsletters
Splash your planned giving logo on every bit of stationary and in every newsletter. The Women’s
Foundation of Minnesota uses its legacy logo on all outgoing board letterhead that is used for official
annual gift acknowledgments. The logo is also used in WFM’s newsletter with a picture of a planned
giving donor and a story about their gift.
Your first direct mail piece
Now it’s time to use direct mail to market your planned giving program and help you identify planned
giving donors. See “Resources for Planned Giving” at the end of this Toolkit for a list of firms that can
help you produce planned giving direct mail campaigns. Most large charities (and small) use direct mail
pieces to educate their donors and remind them to include the charity in their wills, this type of mailing
has been in use for decades. However, it’s just one way to educate and find planned giving donors.
Here’s how we produced planned giving direct mail piece in Minnesota. First, we put in an age overlay on
our database so we could segment all donors, age 50 or more. Then we segmented these donors again to
identify those who have made three or more annual gifts. We then asked one of our planned giving donors
to sign a letter. Keep the message simple, such as “after you have remembered your family and friends in
your will, remember the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the women and girls it serves.”
Particularly important was a response card, asking the donor to send it back to the Foundation in an
enclosed business-reply envelope (postage paid). Thus, the direct mail package consisted of an outer
envelope, a letter announcing the Foundation’s new planned giving program, a new planned giving
brochure, a response card and a business reply (postage paid) envelope. So, are you wondering what the
results of this mailing were? The Foundation uncovered two planned gifts out of 500 pieces sent when the
donors returned the response cards. Other donors used the postage-paid envelope for their year-end gifts.
WFM intends to continue mailing once a year, to encourage donors to make planned gifts.
For sample response and reply cards, see the Toolkit attachments.
Mention planned giving everywhere
Even if you feel unprepared to create a special planned giving brochure, consider sprinkling planned
giving information over all of your other donor materials. There could be a short planned giving question,
tagline, or “Have you remembered us in your will?” on the website, in every board report, on the back of
every envelope, and on the bottom of every sheet of stationary.
“Out planned giving strategy was very simple. We mailed around a special
newsletter. What really worked, though, was when we started just mentioning
planned giving everywhere – at our fundraising events, in our annual report, on
our Web site. About 90 donors have now put us in their will and joined our
Legacy Circle. Another 100 have expressed interest.” – Lanell Dike, Global
Fund for Women
Working with donors – and returning to your board
Your planned giving program is approved, you’ve created some great materials, you’ve even sent out
your first direct mail piece to a segmented group of donors, but you still need to identify planned giving
donors and you need to work face-to-face with them when they want to see you! Back to your board!
Your board members must understand the need to support your foundation with their own planned gifts.
The board will be one of your first groups of planned gift donors. Subsequent board members need to be
engaged every year to make a planned gift as well. Work closely and coach your development committee
chairperson so she feels comfortable asking board members for a planned gift. One of the Toolkit
attachments is an excellent form developed by the Colorado Women’s Foundation to encourage all types
of gifts, including gifts in board members’ wills (“Board grid on giving”). WFM’s enthusiastic board
development chairperson adopted Colorado’s form and successfully helped to increase the number of
board members who have pledged planned gifts.
Planned giving call script
Continue working closely with your board to encourage them to make planned giving calls on donors.
Ask you development chair person and other board members to call your segmented list of donors: Age
50 or older with three or more lifetime gifts. Encourage your callers to call donors they personally know.
Give your callers a great script to overcome any call reluctance. You, too, must be calling prospective
planned gift donors. You personally benefit by getting to know some of your donors and your calls add to
the number. A sample planned giving call script is among the Toolkit attachments.
These are difficult calls because probably only one in eight donors will want to meet or will want more
information about planned giving sent to them. Be sure to have your caller record any comments that
donors make so you can put them in your database. To get started, don’t overwhelm your callers with too
many calls; give them ten donors to call at one time and they can call from home. No, your callers do not
have to make a planned gift themselves to do the calling, although it would be best if they have done so!
If your board members do not want to make these calls, it’s up to you to do, but, like all fundraising,
asking for planned gifts is best done peer-to-peer. Even if you do have a great volunteer to help you, of
course, you as a staff person must pick up the phone and make these calls.
Piquing the donor’s interest
If a donor requests information about your foundation and planned giving, but does not want to commit
yet to a planned gift, make sure you still respond. A sample letter to an undecided donor is attached to this
Just a few sentences about donors that say they would consider making a planned gift but do not commit
to doing. Keep this group as a separate, segmented part in your database, separate from your planned
giving donors as this group is an interesting group to watch! Some might request information about wills
or other planned gifts for years and not commit to telling you if they have made a planned gift or not. Just
make sure you follow up with them and give them what they want in terms of planned giving information.
Invite them to your donor events, too. Try to meet with them.
Visiting with donors
When it’s time to meet with the donor, you have most likely already sent them information about planned
giving or had a detailed phone conversation with them about what type of planned gift they are thinking
of. It’s important to always start out the conversation by thanking them for their past support, assuming
they have been a long-term donor. Then, ask what led them to your foundation, and what their interest
areas are: girls, older woman; what specific women’s issues? Build trust by focusing on the donor first.
Build a relationship over time and over several meetings. It will take several meetings to close the gift.
Focus each meeting on uncovering more information. Some planned gift officers use a series of step-by-
step meetings to work toward closing the gift, then moving into a cultivation stage and then asking for
another gift and continuing such a strategy throughout a donor’s lifetime.
The majority of planned gifts bequests in wills. Bequests are easy to accept, and your job after
acknowledging the gift is to continue thanking the donor and stay in touch in meaningful ways. Once
donors have included your foundation in their will, and assuming the donor stays happy and in contact
with your foundation, they may, if you ask, increase their gift or consider other planned gifts such as
charitable gift annuities, charitable trusts, or other gifts of real estate, IRAs, life insurance.
What if the donor is interested in something more complex than a bequest?
If the donor is interested in making a more complicated gift, such as a charitable gift annuity or a
charitable trust, or real estate, it’s time to involve their estate planning attorney, or other financial advisor
such as their financial planner or accountant. Always encourage your donors to consult with their
advisors before making any type of planned gift. Don’t hesitate to say you don’t know the answers to
their questions, but find an expert who does so you can keep moving the gift along.
Your acceptance policies will help you determine if you are ready to offer charitable gift annuities, for
instance, or accept a real estate gift. If you decide to accept more advanced gifts, be sure to invest in
educating yourself so you become confident promoting such gifts. This may be the time to go back to
your lawyer, consultant, or bank or trust company and ask them to run illustrations or calculations that
you can present to your donor.
Thank-you and gift crediting/valuation
After donors tell you or another staff member, or a board member, that they have made a planned gift,
immediately send them a thank-you document and request a meeting so you can thank them in person and
learn more the gift. Make sure a formal thank you letter goes out from your president. Also, send them a
reply form that records their planned gift in your foundation’s file. Samples of each are Toolkit
attachments. Work hard on trying to get the document completed from the donor, but, don’t pressure, as
some donors will not and do not want to reveal information about the planned gift amount or gift type.
Respect each donor’s feelings about this and slowly work to document the gift.
In general, thank donors as often as possible! Find excuses to thank them another time. (Often, thank-
you’s will result in more future major gifts or planned gifts.) Send a letter; ask a Board member call and
thank the donor; send a birthday or holiday card; publish your donor’s name in the annual report (with
permission). For creative donor recognition ideas, see:
A related question that touches both on marketing and administration is: How do you “count” a future gift
in your system? If a donor tells you she has set up a $1 million charitable remainder trust, you can’t count
it as a $1 million gift. After the trust ends you may receive only $500,000, and that half-million dollars
will not have the same buying power in the future when you receive it. Additionally, there is controversy
about whether you should accept a revocable gift – any gift that a donor can take back before she dies.
For instance, what if she takes you out of her will?
In 2004, the National Committee on Planned Giving released the Guidelines for Reporting and Counting
Charitable Planned Gifts, which the NCPG Board of Directors approved after a year-long period of
development and review. Read more on valuation standards at:
When a donor dies
There’s a will on your desk and what do you do? See the “Harvest” PowerPoint attachment to this
Toolkit. Mary Ellis Peterson, the author of the PowerPoint, is expert in planned giving administration,
about everything you need to know to harvest those bequest gifts. The point is: you are in charge of
making sure the donor’s wishes are honored and your institution gets the gift your donor wanted it to
have. Persistent follow up with the executor and lawyer handling the estate is your responsibility.
What Mary Ellis teaches us in this PowerPoint is to never, ever ignore any legal documentation about a
gift. Acknowledge it immediately! Thank the attorney, thank the family member and keep track of it until
you get every penny the donor wanted your organization to have. This might take a year or two. Request a
copy of the will and trust. Request a final accounting of the will or trust to insure your institution has been
treated fairly and accurately.
Go forward confidently
In closing, go confidently into planned giving. Trust that you will learn as you go. It takes years to
experience all the different types of gifts, and you must consistently educate yourself in the field, but the
rewards are large gifts and long relationships. Enjoy the challenges of working with donors: honor the
donor and don’t rush yourself or the donor into any gift. Remember, it’s about giving, not tax vehicles or
financial schemes. Question accepting a gift if you think it will harm the donor’s future financial security
or that of a family member. Educate management, the board and your colleagues about the process of
planned giving. Planned giving is the best part of fundraising because you will get to know some of your
donors very deeply. Then the magic of philanthropy becomes real and you will know why you chose to
work to change the world for women and girls!
Action List: Planned Giving
In the next month, what one thing could you do that would clear the way to help you tackle planned
What would you like to accomplish in the next 12 months? Note the activities that make the most sense
for your situation. They are organized in roughly chronological order.
Foundations of any size might consider these activities:
_____ Quick education on PG basics (attend a class)
_____ Attend a PG Council meeting (established foundations could attend regularly)
_____ Identify your long-term PG objectives and tie it to other foundation goals
_____ Set a budget
_____ Commit to working on planned giving for ____ hours per week
_____ Achieve staff and board agreement (consider a presentation/resolution)
_____ Set Year 1 goals
_____ Decide if PG consultant is needed; interview and choose
_____ Identify lawyer for occasional consultation (an expert in PG)
_____ Decide 2 critical a simple gift acceptance policy: How PG gifts will be used; types of
_____ Set up one brokerage account, for acceptance of stock gifts
_____ Prospect management system in place; database; procedures for tracking gifts
_____ Decide gift crediting and thank-you system
_____ Identify 5 prospects for lead gift cultivation
_____ Planned giving script for phone/in-person cultivation
_____ 2nd meeting with board: use lead gift to obtain board PG commitments
_____ One-on-one meetings with all board members to ask them for PG
_____ Name your Legacy Circle
_____ Marketing plan for bequest program
_____ Thank-you certificates for those who join Legacy Circle
_____ Insert PG logo/tagline/language into: stationery, newsletters, annual report
_____ Specific stock donation instructions and “donate stock” button onto website
_____ PG info on website (basic page; and profile of lead giftor)
_____ Recognize legacy gifts at regular event (e.g. annual dinner)
_____ Phone calls or personal visits with top prospects (2-40 per year)
_____ Newsletter article on PG (profile an early Legacy Circle joiner)
_____ Annual evaluation of PG program
Additional steps for more established foundations:
_____ Create PG committee and/or find “advisor friend” to coach PG donor meetings
_____ Amend Strategic Plan to state how PG fits in
_____ Detailed PG handbook and gift acceptance policy (consultant creates)
_____ Identify bank or trust company as administrator (ask advice of consultant/lawyer)
_____ Identify broad list of contacts for PG marketing mailing
_____ Marketing plan for more advanced gifts (charitable trusts, etc.)
_____ Logo and/or tagline for PG
_____ PG Brochure
_____ Response card
_____ Bequest mailing to all constituents, with response card
_____ Legacy Society event, such as breakfast just for LS members
_____ Create estate planning/PG “kit” for donors (for mail or seminars)
_____ Organize PG seminar for donors
_____ November email or e-newsletter to donors, advisors re: year-end PGs
_____ Education on more technical subjects: trusts, gift annuities, bargain sales
_____ Plan for relationship-building with 5-20 professional advisors
_____ Create & distribute to donors a list of local advisors who help with planning, wills
_____ Update gift acceptance policy to accept more complex assets
_____ Gift annuity program (if 300+ donors fit the profile)
_____ Buy software (only if you have gift annuity program)
Toolkit Part B:
with Professional Advisors
I. Why work with advisors?
Working with advisors is one of the most promising fundraising strategies for women’s funds in this new
century. First, your donors are more likely to come through with planned gifts if you build great
relationships with their advisors. Planned Giving in the United States 2000: A Survey of Donors, a study
by the National Committee on Planned Giving, concluded that “Legal and financial advisors appear to
play a much more significant role in the gift planning process than they did eight years ago.” If you can
work with the advisor at an early stage, she is more likely to help you and your donor to complete the gift.
Second, advisors are well on their way to becoming the greatest source of referrals of new donors to
community foundations around the country. How might women’s funds take advantage of this trend?
Who are the advisors?
Trust & estate attorneys
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
Tax advisors/Enrolled Agents (EAs)
Why are advisors important to you and your donors?
People commonly turn to their professional advisors for guidance through life transitions such as
retirement or divorce. They call their advisors when they come into new money. Additionally, most
unstaffed private foundations are actually administered by a lawyer, a CPA, or a trust officer. In short,
each professional advisor is a potential “gateway” to dozens of prospective donors.
Talented advisors can also help your current donors “find” more money to give you, through creative
Good advisors will help your donor to feel fluent in her financial situation and comfortable with what she
has. One of the greatest barriers to persuading a woman to be philanthropic is her fear that she
does not have enough money. Competent and respectful advisors can help her figure out how much she
needs for herself and her family. Often, she will realize she can actually give away more than she thought.
Finally, the larger the planned gift under consideration, the more likely it is that your donor will need
professional assistance. Her advisor is familiar with her investments, tax situations, and what she owns –
and can make the best recommendations about optimizing her giving.
Community foundations and referral trends
Mainstream community foundations in the U.S. attribute much of their explosive growth to a successful
forging of relationships with financial advisors and related professionals. Most community foundations
are reporting that a referral from a professional advisor plays a role in over 50% of new donor
dollars. The advisors of the wealthy – particularly financial planners and trust and estate attorneys – are
increasingly “funneling” their philanthropically-inclined clients to the community foundations. See these
excerpts from interviews with community foundations in 2002-2003 (conducted by Changemakers):
“Advisors represent far and away our greatest referral source.”
- Dayton Community Foundation
“I don't think this number has ever been statistically documented but my gut would say it
is in the 70-75% range. In Atlanta, it is closer to 90-95%.”
– Community Foundation Greater Atlanta
“There is no clear, agreed-upon statistic for percent of dollars coming in via professional
advisors. I hear a 50% figure often. Everyone does agree that the amount is significant,
and that professional advisors are probably the most cost-effective way to reach high net
- League of California Community Foundations
In professional advisor publications, such as Investment Advisor, community foundations are
increasingly written up as the philanthropic vehicle of choice. They are perceived as objective, in touch
with community needs, and administratively simple for the donor compared to a private foundation.
Because they are permanent, community foundations are also seen as excellent “legacy solutions” for
clients who want to make a planned gift ultimately to be redistributed among a constantly changing
landscape of small local charities.
In 2000, hoping to catalyze this trend, Community Foundations of America (CFA) and the Community
Foundations Leadership Team of the Council on Foundations (COF) partnered to create the impressive
National Marketing Action Team (NMAT). NMAT works nationally to promote the community
foundation concept to advisors. In 2003, NMAT estimated that referrals of donor dollars from
professional advisors to community foundations would more than quadruple in the 10-year period
from 2003 to 2013 (from $3 billion per year in new gifts to $14 billion).
Meanwhile, informal surveys of women’s foundations and social change funds (conducted by WFN and
Changemakers in 2002-2004) reveal that these institutions are obtaining fewer than 10% of their gifts
through professional advisor referrals – most commonly they are receiving in the 0-5% range. These
foundations cite a number of obstacles to successful advisor outreach: “Little staff time,” “insufficient
budget,” “lack of knowledge of how to approach advisors,” and “low profile in the community.”
How might a women’s foundation with limited resources replicate the community foundations’ success
with advisors? Many community foundations have allocated special staff and annual budgets in the
hundreds of thousands just to perform advisor outreach. Mindful that this kind of budget is beyond the
reach of small foundations, we asked how women’s funds could accomplish advisor outreach on a small
staff. We also sought input from helpful professional advisors.
“We’re really new or busy – are we ready for this?”
We are persuaded that you can succeed with advisors if even you have a small budget and limited time.
Many of our specific advice for reaching out to advisors simply requires “piggybacking” off work that
your foundation is already doing – such as inviting a few advisors to your regular fundraising events.
Even if you do not have a planned giving in place, all of the sections to follow will provide ideas for
about how to get advisors to refer donors to you.
II. Working on planned giving with advisors
to your existing donors
Peace of mind means more donations
Women with significant resources often give less than men who have equivalent resources. Why? Often
that is because they are worried about their income lasting a lifetime. And some women have less
confidence managing their money than men. Women are not willing to give away money until they are
certain they have enough for themselves and their families. For that reason, it’s often a good idea to
encourage women donors to find advisors they really like who can help them sort through these questions.
A professional advisor can help her clients – your donors – to sit down, take a deep breath, and map it out.
Advisors can help your donors “find” more money
Personal finance is complex, so even the savviest of donors may lack knowledge of the full range of
giving possibilities. Even if you knew how to advise them on their overall financial situation, most donors
will not open up their financial picture to you. But they will open up a trusted advisor.
A donor came to one of the authors with a plan to donate about $500,000 in appreciated
stocks. This author encouraged the donor to ask her financial planner to look at her “big
picture” and explore additional ways to give. The advisor discovered that the donor had
life insurance she no longer needed. She donated the policy, worth $150,000, to the
foundation, who cashed it out. For that, the donor got a big tax deduction and was freed
from paying the annual $4000 insurance premiums. It had never occurred to her that she
could give her life insurance to the foundation. In the ensuing years she gave the
appreciated stock too! Result of encouraging dialogue with her advisor: An extra
$150,000 for the foundation, and a happy donor.
An advisor can also help your donor with tax planning. Don’t underestimate how helpful this can be for
both your donor and you. Over her lifetime and at her death, there are only four places a donor’s money
can go: To self, family/friends, nonprofits, or taxes. Most donors give to self and family, give a lot to
taxes in an unplanned fashion, and then there is very little left over for your foundation. These donors
may be thrilled to find out that, with help from a good advisor, they can “divert” tax money to you.
Here’s a simplified version of what an advisor can do for a wealthy donor’s estate:
$ for self/family $2,000,000 $2,000,000
$ to taxes $300,000 $100,000
$ to Women’s Fund $300,000 $500,000
Total $2,600,000 $2,600,000
You don’t need to know exactly how the advisor accomplishes this. You just need to express to your
donor that it’s possible. Would she increase her gift to your foundation if she knew it would not reduce
what she and her family get to keep? She can go ask her advisor how to do that. Here are some other
things you could encourage your donor to do:
Sit down with her family and discuss what might excite them about offering more substantial
support to women’s and girls’ causes.
Ask her advisor to help her figure out how she can give more during her lifetime – not just at
death. Lifetime planned giving vehicles include annual gifts of appreciated stock; gift of
unneeded appreciated real estate; life insurance; charitable lead trusts.
Ask her advisor how much she needs for her retirement nest egg. How much can she afford to
give to nonprofits?
Your foundation’s paid advisors
A little later we’ll return to the question of how to work with your donor’s advisors. For now we want to
talk about advisors who work on your foundation’s team.
This is an important distinction. An advisor that is hired and paid by the donor represents the interests of
the donor. An advisor that works for you – whether that advisor is a paid consultant or a volunteer –
represents the interests of the foundation. If you pay a lawyer, for instance, to offer planned giving
suggestions to a donor, that lawyer represents your interest in the planned gift and should not accept your
client as a paying donor, even if your donor really likes your lawyer. Most professional advisors would
consider that a conflict of interest.
Every once in a while, you’ll come across a planned giving case where you’ll be dealing with all types.
You’ll have a paid lawyer and/or consultant; one or more volunteer advisors; and the donor will have her
In any case, you’ll need to figure out how to engage the advisors working on the foundation side. In the
planned giving section of this Toolkit, we talked about the need to pay for a really good attorney who
specializes in planned giving to review your gift acceptance policy, and to advise you on the occasional
unusual gift situations – such as whether you should accept a donor’s offer of a particular gift of real
If you wish, you can also decide to pay your foundation’s really good attorney to directly advise a donor
who appears to have a complex financial situation and a desire to give you a substantial major gift or
planned gift. Why not just ask the donor to just pay her own advisors to figure this out? Good question.
First, sometimes donors require fresh, specific planned giving ideas from you (and your own advisors)
before they will get excited enough to want to pay their own advisors to help them carry it out. Second,
and you’ll read more about this later, most donors’ advisors are not actually very well trained in gift
planning. A great role for your smart attorney is to meet your donor and gently supply her and her
advisors with planned giving ideas – such as charitable lead trust illustrations – that frankly never would
have occurred to the donor’s advisor. You pay your attorney for 1-10 hours to educate your donor and her
advisors; the donor pays her own advisors to carry out the plan.
Get your attorney involved only if you think the gift is substantial and likely. At $300 per hour or so, the
fees will add up fast. On the other hand, paying your attorney to do this is usually a great investment. Two
thousand dollars in fees to your attorney is worth it for a $100,000 gift from a donor. This is why your
attorney line item is so critical to your planned giving budget.
Perhaps only one planned giving donor in 10 will want or need advice from your lawyer. The majority of
your donors will have much easier situations - like a desire to leave a simple bequest, with no complex
trusts or assets involved - and they can achieve that just fine through their own lawyer.
Other paid advisors to your planned giving team might also include a planned giving consultant, and/or a
bank or trust company to manage administrative components such as investing gifts or trusts.
Your foundation’s volunteer advisors
Put a star planned giving expert onto your Board!
Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Birmingham Women’s Fund each recruited onto
its Board of Directors a woman who had served as director of the National Committee on
If you want to jumpstart your planned giving program, consider either recruiting one or two great
volunteer advisors to your Board, or creating a planned giving advisory committee and inviting advisors
First, if you do have people on your Board who happen to be professional advisors, do not automatically
assume that they will be trained in planned giving or capable of helping you on it. Planned giving is a real
specialty area. The health insurance agent, divorce lawyer, or CPA specializing in nonprofit audits who
sits on your board will not be able to advise you or your donors on the subject. If you’re lucky enough to
have an estate planning attorney or investment advisor on your board, even that person may have to attend
professional planned giving seminars to become a good advisor for you. That is assuming that she has the
time and interest to take on this kind of role.
That said, some women’s foundations have been persistent or lucky enough to find a volunteer planned
giving specialist for their board. You could seek an expert in the marketing or infrastructure side of
planned giving – a planned giving consultant such as the star women that the Colorado and Birmingham
funds found. Such an expert is experienced at the practicalities of running a planned giving program. If
she is willing to put a lot of time into the effort, she may supplement or replace your need for a paid
planned giving consultant. Such a volunteer is not easy to find. You would probably look around your
community for an elder expert who is well-established nationally as a planned giving consultant and is
seeking ways to give back. Your local Planned Giving Council is the logical place to start looking.
Alternatively, you could recruit onto your board a volunteer financial planner or tax/estate attorney who
knows planned giving really well. Maine Women’s Fund is lucky to have on its Board a financial planner
who is passionate and well-trained in planned giving. He provides free coaching to staff and free guidance
to donors. This can partially replace the need for a paid lawyer. Full-time advisors will very rarely agree
to this, but a retired advisor might. Ask around at the Planned Giving Council, a community volunteer
match center, or perhaps among dedicated donors who happen to be advisors. You will need to ask this
advisor to commit to advising your donors without compensation from either you or the donor –
otherwise, you’re inviting a conflict of interest situation. Also, bear in mind that this advisor, while expert
at structuring planned gifts, will not necessarily be able to help you with the practicalities of marketing or
operating a planned giving program. (That’s the role of a planned giving consultant or educated staff
As another alternative, you can form an advisory council with several advisors.
Dallas Women’s Foundation started a planned giving advisory council in 2000. Board
members were asked to provide names of their professional advisors. Fifteen advisors
joined. They produced a planned giving brochure, Web site information, and a gift
acceptance policy. The chair is now working on a presentation that council members can
show to other local advisors, or at civic organizations to which they belong.
As the above example illustrates, a council of professional advisors can be remarkably productive, and
can also spread the word about your foundation to other advisors. Financial advisors are most likely to
agree to be volunteers; you could also ask attorneys or CPAs who have an interest in philanthropy. To
find these advisors, start by asking your donors, board members, or the Planned Giving Council for
recommendations. See also the next section, on finding advisors who will help you with outreach in the
wider advisory community.
Do keep in mind that an advisor-only council may not be as helpful with operations. Its expertise is in gift
planning and outreach to the wider advisor community; for your operations you may still need a planned
Consider forming just one planned giving committee consisting of a staff fundraiser, a board member, a
donor, and one or more volunteer advisors. Team members will offer complementary knowledge of your
operations and capacity, donor base, marketing, and structuring planned gifts.
Finally, if you have volunteer advisors, respect their time. If you’re recruiting a new advisor or asking an
existing advisor to help you more actively, be sure you’re clear about what you’re asking and allow them
to say “No.” Some advisors love very active volunteer service; others are focused on building their
careers, and extensive volunteer work foisted on them can cause resentment.
Advisor services offering seminars for donors
In many areas, for-profit financial advisory firms are now entering the planned giving market by offering
to run planned giving seminars for your donors and/or to advise your donors on planned gifts.
These small firms run the gamut from highly ethical advisors with excellent planned giving training, to
scam artists whose real motive is to access your donors and sell them things they don’t need. For instance,
some insurance agents disguised as financial planners are peddling charitable remainder trusts to donors
as a way of selling annuities or life insurance. You and your donor may need a different kind of planned
gift – and the unethical advisor pushes these particular methods because he will receive a big commission.
Another brand of unethical advisor will structure donor seminars in such a way as to get them to disclose
confidential financial information, or will apply undue pressure to hire the advisor.
On the other hand, an ethical, well-trained advisory firm may be a real pleasure to work with. It will
inspire and respect your donors and catalyze planned gifts, and it may be cheaper than paying your lawyer
to advise your donors.
If you are approached by this type of advisory firm, ask locally about its reputation. Until you know the
firm well, be careful about sharing donor information.
Working with your donor’s advisors
If your donor is considering a planned gift, it’s likely that she already has a financial advisor. She might
also have an accountant, attorney, or insurance advisor.
If you and your donor feel comfortable talking about the gift, express your interest in collaborating with
the donor’s advisor(s). Usually the donor will have a favorite main advisor (financial or legal) who
becomes her point person. You may ask your own lawyer to collaborate with the advisor, and/or you can
do so yourself. (For more complex gifts, all of you should be involved). Reassure the donor that you will
not ask to be shown the donor’s confidential financial information. The point of having a multi-way
meeting with her advisor is to make sure everyone is on the same page, that the gift conforms to the
donor’s intent and financial situation, and that the gift is a type that your foundation is equipped to
“Professional advisors may have a legal obligation to poke holes in a plan they don't
understand or agree with, no matter how deserving of support the charity is…When the
gift is not integrated within the entire estate plan, it may create other problems.
[Advisors] rightly object to being a rubber stamp to an already concluded process without
a chance to provide counsel.” – Vaughn Henry, 2001
As the above quote illustrates, the other purpose of meeting a donor’s advisor is to build a relationship.
Your donor hired the advisor to manage her overall financial situation, so the advisor might well be
miffed if her client initiates a large planned gift without her. If a poorly designed planned gift happens,
the advisor could be sued for malpractice. Talk to the advisor early, rather than when the process is closer
to done. An advisor brought in late, or not at all, may suspect that the foundation is putting undue
pressure on her client, and may advise the donor against the gift. If she is brought in early, she will see
your donor’s dedication to you, and may help with creative planning.
Some donor advisors will be whizzes at planned giving; most others will not. In a 1997 experiment by
Prince & Associates, the vast majority of professional advisors failed a pop quiz on planned giving
techniques. An average financial advisor has received only 1-5 hours of education in charitable tax laws
and planned giving – maybe less than you have! An average estate planning attorney has completed a
curriculum emphasizing giving at death over giving during lifetime. That is why many attorneys are
conversant about basic bequests and charitable remainder trusts, but not about lifetime giving vehicles
such as charitable lead trusts. (That is also why you can’t just hire any estate planning attorney to be your
planned giving lawyer.) Accountants scored even lower on the Prince quiz.
Some advisors will not register the extent of your donor’s philanthropic intent until she states it
vehemently. They may believe that most people want to leave all their money to their kids and perhaps
only a token 5% to charity – and that they should protect donors from you. The authors have actually seen
cases where donors walk into an attorney’s office wanting 50% of their estate to go to nonprofits, and
walking out with a will that includes only 10% for nonprofits.
“Do not assume that any particular advisor you meet will understand planned giving or
have the tools to help clients with it. You may need to gently suggest to the advisor where
he can find up-to-date tax and legal information on planned giving. You may need to tell
your donors to prod their advisors to help them.” – Scott Pofcher, UBS
What do you do if a donor’s advisor who does not seem to be supportive or knowledgeable about planned
giving? One, encourage your donor to ask her advisors to proactively research techniques and help them
carry out their philanthropic intent. Two, refer her advisor to the Planned Giving Design Center
(www.pgdc.com) for free advice. Three, even better – get your own planned giving lawyer involved!
That’s why you hired her – she can prod and assist the donor’s advisors. Four, if your donor’s advisor is a
true disaster and if your donor is open to it, diplomatically refer her to a new advisor.
Some advisors are accustomed to working with large nonprofits or community foundations that have
planned giving specialists on staff. If so, they may assume that you have specialized knowledge in
planned giving, that you offer charitable gift annuities or donor-advised funds, or that your foundation can
serve as trustee to the donor’s trust. Explain that you can accept planned gifts and are happy to work with
the advisor, but that if the advisor wants to do advanced planning, she will need to obtain help from your
lawyer or from outside sources.
Other tips for working with the donor’s advisors:
Clearly communicate to the advisor what gifts you are able or not able to accept under your gift
acceptance policy. You don’t want an attorney writing into a donor’s will that she’ll leave you a
$10,000 scholarship endowment if that is below your endowment limit. You may have limits on
what kinds of assets you accept.
Tell advisors to encourage their clients to notify you when they make a bequest, so that the donor
can be recognized.
Consider creating a short handout for advisors on resources on planned giving and philanthropy.
For examples, see WFN’s advisor page on its Web site, or
http://www.changemakers.org/advisors.htm and click on “Resources on Philanthropic Planning.”
Add some local philanthropy resources, such as your local Planned Giving Council and the
Regional Association of Grantmakers.
Referring donors to great advisors
One of the most effective relationship-building tools with advisors is to compile a list of the best local
advisors and start referring donors to them.
You benefit in multiple ways. A donor referred to a respectful, fun, pro-philanthropy advisor is much
more likely to complete a gift to you. An advisor good at planned giving will discover more creative ways
for her to give you more money. Donors are not always thrilled with their current advisors, and will be
grateful for the referral. Second, advisors are flattered to find out that you are referring donors to them.
They are more likely to take notice of you and to start mentioning your foundation to their other clients.
Horizons Foundation produced a directory of San Francisco Bay Area advisors that it posted on its Web
site. See: http://www.horizonsfoundation.org/programs/files/LGBTAdvisorsDirectory.pdf
Horizons also mailed the directory to its donors. The result was that at least two dozen donors called
advisors on the list to complete their estate planning. This resulted in several more planned gift pledges
Additionally, Horizons mailed the directory to the featured advisors, with a cover letter. (See the Toolkit
attachment for an example of a cover letter.) In a cover letter, you can talk up your foundation to them
and say you’d be very grateful if they would refer their clients to you. The next step is to start inviting
these advisors to your events. If you’re looking for an advisor-volunteer, this is a good pool from which
If a full advisor directory seems too ambitious, consider simply pulling together a two-page advisor list to
put on your letterhead and make available to any donors that ask. Try simply listing 3-5 of each of the
following: financial advisors, tax specialists, and estate planning attorneys. Include advisors from all the
major metropolitan areas in your region.
How do you find or screen advisors? There seem to be three versions. Version One is to let your let your
donors or members suggest advisors they like. Send out an email announcing that you are compiling a list
of good advisors for donors and that their recommendations are welcome. You may decide that advisors
are not allowed in your directory unless vetted by a member or donor. Resourceful Women did it that
way. The advantage of this approach is that you will end up with a list of advisors that your donors
consider a pleasure to work with. The disadvantage is that you cannot be sure that the advisors are well-
trained in philanthropy.
Version Two is to compile a list of the financial, tax, and legal advisors in your region that have the best
training in planned giving and philanthropy. Instead of asking your donors, you would ask local Planned
Giving Council members for their suggestions. (Be sure to consultant all of the Councils in your region.)
See the member directory of the National Association of Philanthropic Advisors (www.napp.net) to
identify members in your area. If you have a paid or volunteer advisor that knows planned giving, ask that
person for recommendations. If you work with a bank, ask them too. The advantage to Version Two is
that any advisor to whom you send the donor will know philanthropy and will help her to complete the
gift. The disadvantage is that you don’t know how warm and fuzzy the advisor is.
Version Three is to allow any advisor who wants to be in your directory to list their name. The advantage
is that you can build relationships with the maximum number of advisors and avoid a situation of saying
“Yes” to some and “No” to others.
You can create and keep on file, for donors, questionnaires that advisors may fill out to describe their
services. For a sample questionnaire to send to advisors, see www.horizonsfoundation.org and scroll
down the left side for the PDF file.
Consider asking advisors to agree to provide one hour of free consultation to any donors that call them as
a result of your referral. One hour free is a standard offering from advisors, but if you could announce that
it’s part of the deal, it might further stimulate your donors to contact advisors in the directory.
III. Getting advisors to refer donors to you: Easy steps
Whether or not you have a planned giving program, you should be building relationships with
professional advisors as a way of attracting new donors. Interviews with the women’s foundations and
similar social change funds reveal has been most helpful in creating great advisor relationships:
Recruit 1-5 advisor(s) to help you
Do this first! Barbara Hauser, an estate attorney, says: “Just become good friends with a few advisors, and
keep in contact – that is the best way to start.” Almost every women’s foundation that has reached success
with advisors can point to one or more local, very committed, volunteer “advisor helpers” that helped
them get started and ensured their success. This advisor will help you to navigate the advisor world.
There are many ways of doing this, ranging from the formal (creating a Professional Advisor Committee
or inviting advisors onto your board – see the last section) to the informal (asking for an advisor “friend”
to simply volunteer). Most of the foundations that have enjoyed success with advisor outreach point
enthusiastically to a very active professional advisor on the foundation’s board of directors, board of
advisors, or investment committee.
Go find a fun, competent advisor – someone who completely shares your values and who has some time
on his hands – and ask her to be your formal helper. If your foundation already has advisors, share this
Toolkit with them. They may not be aware of how powerful advisor outreach has been for community
foundations and how they might actively help you tap into that. Also, they will present local knowledge
and alternative viewpoints.
A professional advisor that has a formal, volunteer advisory relationship with your foundation can be a
great source of support on all of the advisor outreach techniques that you might try. This advisor can play
a “handholding” role, helping staff to identify local advisor outreach opportunities or to steer clear of less
promising ones. She can introduce you to other advisors, get speaking engagements for you, or edit
materials going out to advisors.
Women’s foundations with activist boards do not have to invite professional advisors to join as full
members of the Board of Directors. They might instead add professional advisors to a separate advisory
board that does not have voting power. Some foundations have created an Investment Committee,
consisting of a professional advisor and members of the board and staff. The Investment Committee and
its member advisor(s) might be asked if they are willing to expand the list of duties to include outreach to
the advisor community. The committee might be more effective and focused if it is kept small and yet
formally accountable – a “very small but dedicated nucleus,” as one foundation put it.
If you ask around your community, you might find advisors who passionately share your foundation’s
values. Try to recruit one or two that have some volunteer time on their hands. At least one of them
should be a financial planner/advisor. Foundations that have worked with advisors emphasize here the
importance of getting committed advisors, not just knowledgeable or well-connected people. If you’re
unsure of the chemistry or the commitment, test them out. Get them involved in promoting your event, or
have them introduce the foundation director around at an advisor event.
How do you find a volunteer that will share your values?
Perhaps you have several members or donors who are advisors. Perhaps your donors know an advisor
who would like to volunteer. Find out if there are any women’s advisor associations in your area. One
other advisor population worth mentioning is the community of socially responsible investment (SRI)
advisors. The average SRI advisor is socially progressive (and has many such clients).
Attend a local advisor event put on by your local community foundation
Often the CF will sponsor luncheons or seminars for advisors. You will observe how the CFs is crafting
its own messages to advisors. And you’ll meet advisors. Arrive right when registration begins. Try to
connect with an advisor friend who can introduce you around.
Understand where advisors are coming from
Even your most loyal advisors will not simply become your marketing arm and start talking about you
with all of their clients. Respect that they are taking in your information and will refer you as appropriate.
“I would have no problem recommending a women’s foundation. But it’s just like
recommending another charity - I would have to recommend more than one.” – Peggy
Everson, American Express Financial Advisors
Excite your staff and board about advisor outreach
Present to your board on the topics of planned giving and advisor outreach. Ask board members to take
specific actions. Can each board member identify and invite 1-3 advisors to each of your public events?
Can she bring your brochures to her next meetings with her own advisors?
“Marketing to advisors begins at the board level. Rather than finding lists of advisors,
have your board create a list of advisors they know. Then you take that list and ask your
Board member to make an introduction to your Development committee. Of that 50 you’ll
end up with 5 advisors who pay close attention.” – Joel Davis, advisor to Maine
Share this Toolkit with everyone in your organization who deals with advisors. This includes your
executive director, fundraisers, finance director, and board members.
Excite your donors about advisor outreach
Who are your enthusiastic donors? A passionate donor could effectively “multiply” her donation by
talking up your organization to her advisors and, by extension, her advisor’s clients. Encourage trusted
donors to take your brochures to their advisors’ offices and to talk you up proactively. Donors to one
foundation even got their advisors to underwrite the annual awards dinner. Happy donors are the most
credible envoys to advisors.
Supporters, volunteers, board members, staff, or former staff can also be enlisted to approach their
personal advisor contacts in the community. You could put together a simple meeting to enthuse and
recruit several people into your advisor outreach efforts.
Both large and small foundations in our survey cited “personal relationships and connections” or “word of
mouth” as far and away the most effective way of attracting advisors to the foundation’s work. Before
obtaining lists of advisors, start with those you know.
Invite 5-50 advisors to an event you’re already planning
As you’re preparing a community event or fundraising event, ask staff, board, and volunteers to invite
advisors they know. Invite donors who are also professional advisors; stockbrokers who have processed
donor gifts to you; lawyers and trust officers who have distributed part of an estate or trust to you; women
advisors. Be sure to invite advisors to your fun events, not just your formal events or presentations.
That’s how you’ll build good relationships.
Showcase your grantees. “If a couple of your most compelling grantees can be present and given a
chance to talk, that’s even better,” says Joel Davis.
If you already hold public events, fundraising dinners, and the like, it’s a fairly simple matter to extend
the invitation list to include advisors. Again, you’ll get the best advisor turnout if you ask donors,
supporters, or board members to invite advisors they know. Phone contact works the best. If you want an
advisor to spread the word to her clients, you can send her an email invitation and encourage her to
forward it on. Less effective is regular mail, as advisors are inundated with it daily.
The first step for the advisor outreach program of Vermont Women’s Fund, says director
Christine Zachai, will be to invite two dozen advisors to its tenth anniversary luncheon in
spring 2005. Organizers (board, staff, donors) will be asked to invite local women
advisors that they know. Additionally, progressive financial institutions with a presence
in Vermont will be asked to co-sponsor the “Tenth Anniversary Year” of the Fund.
Get an advisory firm to underwrite your annual dinner
One fund got a loyal donor to persuade her advisor to fund the dinner! Pick an advisory firm you like –
perhaps a very woman-oriented firm or an SRI firm – so that you feel comfortable recommending it to
Meet with 5 advisors one-on-one
Pick advisors who may be enthusiastic about women’s causes. Choose various types of advisors -- an
estate planning attorney, a financial planner, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Tell them about your
efforts to persuade advisors to refer more clients to the women’s fund. Get feedback.
Almost everyone we surveyed agreed that small, face-to-face meetings with advisors seem to produce the
greatest results. Start with advisors that are already positively inclined towards your foundation via their
connection with one of your supporters. To initiate a meeting, tell the advisor you’d like to have 30
minutes of her time to present your organization as an alternative philanthropic resource to the better-
known local community foundation(s). Again, though, it is most effective if your donor or board member
can make the introduction.
Q: I want to reach older women. Which advisors do I talk to?
A: Build relationships with women attorneys that specialize in trusts, estates, or elder
law. Older women engage these attorneys for estate planning.
Print a simple brochure for advisors
WFN has created a template 2-page brochure for advisors as an attachment to this Toolkit. It is built so
you can modify it according to your needs.
Sponsor a meeting of the local Financial Planning Association or Estate Planning
“We have decided that the most efficient advisor outreach is just to join up with the local estate planning
council and sponsor [pay for] one of their monthly meetings,” says Becky Sykes of Dallas Women’s
Foundation. “We get up in front of the group, give them our handouts, and tell them who we are. We get
exposure to 200-250 advisors, and we don’t have to do the work of getting them there!”
Speak at events that advisors put on for their clients
Minnesota Women’s Foundation learned that one local financial advisor offered monthly
meetings where her clients – mainly women and small business owners – could meet
fundraisers from local charities. Also, a local law firm hosts an annual afternoon event
where its clients can hear speakers on community topics. Foundation staff and grantees
make sure they are represented at both events.
Build relationships with 1-3 local associations of women advisors
There may be local groups of women tax lawyers, women estate planning attorneys, women CPAs, etc.
See “Resources on Advisors.” Ask to attend, speak, or write a piece for the newsletter.
Add selected advisors to your mailing list
A word of caution here: advisors consistently informed us that regular mail was about the least effective
way of getting their attention. Most advisors get dozens of pieces of regular mail every day.
However, it’s worth adding an advisor to your regular mailing list if you’ve already had a meeting or have
made a special connection.
If you do embark on a mailing to advisors, consider drafting a short cover letter to go with your usual
marketing materials, rather than constructing a special brochure just for advisors. Don’t forget that you’re
not necessarily trying to get donations from the advisors themselves; you’re trying to reach the advisor’s
clients! A cover letter would request that the advisor keep the enclosed materials around for “clients
interested in a philanthropic alternative to the local community foundation or private foundations.”
Most fundraisers say that the way to make mailings to advisors worthwhile is to do a bit of phone or
email follow-up. Just ask if they’ve received your mailing and if they have any questions about how you
can be a philanthropy resource to their clients. If you’re going to regularly send advisors your newsletter,
consider including a special cover letter for them, say, once per year.
Update your fund’s profile on charity rating Web sites
Are you accurately profiled on www.idealist.org, www.bbb.org, and www.charitynavigator.org?
Advisors sometimes direct their clients to these sites to check you out! In some cases you can improve
how you’re written up, or fix misinformation. Many professional advisors are being encouraged --
through professional publications or continuing education seminars -- to direct philanthropically minded
clients to the “charity rating services” and to Internet-based charity search services, as a way to check you
out. We can argue that these services provide little relevant information to prospective donors. But the
fact remains that many advisors are telling prospective donors to investigate you on various websites.
You may be surprised to discover that your profile is 4 years out of date, or that you aren’t listed even
though you might qualify. Some of the most highly visited Web sites are:
Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (www.bbb.org)
Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org)
American Institute of Philanthropy (www.charitywatch.org)
Internet Nonprofit Center (www.nonprofits.org)
Charity Guide (www.charity-charities.org)
Use your IRS Form 990 as a marketing tool
Advisors love to send clients to check out your annual Form 990. (It should be listed on the website of
your state attorney general’s office, and/or on Guidestar.) Though the IRS Form 990 is technically just
for annual tax reporting, Part III of the form provides an opportunity to describe your foundation’s
accomplishments. You can’t change what’s on the web once the 990 is posted. So the key is to ensure
that the administrative staff or accountant who fills out your 990 every spring gets some help describing
Hire an intern to help you
Your intern can get lists of local advisors, update your profile on charity rating websites, and so on.
Survey local advisors
A survey is an easy way of raising awareness about your foundation while gaining insights into how you
are perceived by advisors.
Display your materials at a local advisors conference
At small advisor meetings, you may be able to lay out materials at a table for free. At a larger conference,
you can pay to exhibit. This can get expensive, so consider sharing the space with another organization. If
you have to pay, consider which types of advisors will be present. An estate planning attorney is more
likely to refer you a client than is an insurance agent, so you might pay up to exhibit at a conference of the
former but not of the latter.
Email advisors in October
October through December is “tax planning season” for advisors. It is no coincidence that more gifts
appear in November and December than any other month. Advisors are most likely to encourage donors
to give away money at this time. In October or early November, send emails to advisors you met earlier in
the year. See the “October advisor letter” attachment to this Toolkit.
Recognize and thank advisors – multiple times
Award an annual prize for a local advisor that has contributed to philanthropy locally. That award could
be given at your annual celebration dinner, or a major fundraising event. Or you could sponsor an
ongoing local advisor meeting (such as Estate Planning Council) and announce the prize at one of those
meetings. If you have good relationships with a few tax advisors, send them a little gift basket, together
with materials on the Foundation, during tax week (around April 15). If you make a public announcement
about a large gift received, consider publicly thanking not only your donor but the donor’s advisor.
Whatever you do, definitely send a thank-you note to an advisor when she sends you a referral! A year-
end letter (or your October email) to advisors might include a reference to those who have referred clients
to the Foundation. Also, definitely find ways to thank advisors that have volunteered a lot of their time.
List them among your major volunteers, or include a special section thanking them in a newsletter or
Track advisor referrals
Ask new donors if a referral from one of their advisors played a role in their decision to donate. Ask for
the name of the advisor. You’ll start to get a sense of where, and how, your advisor outreach efforts are
working. If you already ask your donors how they heard about your foundation, you might also start
asking if a positive referral from one of their professional advisors played a role in their decision to
contact you or to donate. Ask for the advisor’s name and find out what type of advisor he or she is.
It might be helpful to “segment” advisors, much as you segment your donor prospects. An advisor who
actively helps you out (or that is a donor) could be an “A,” an advisor who has made at least one referral
is a “B,” and everyone else is a “C.”
Several groups offer, or know of, trainings on contact management databases or technology. Try the
Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Development Executives Roundtable, the National
Committee on Planned Giving, and the Foundation Center.
IV. Getting referrals: Advanced steps
Following are proven ideas for more established women’s funds that would like to take their advisor
outreach to the next stage.
Get profiled in a local advisor newsletter
A local advisor association could write about you in its newsletter. Getting profiled might require some
Persuade local associations or firms to provide a link to your foundation on their
Check first to see if they have any other philanthropy links at all. Be prepared for the association to ask if
you can “trade links” and decide if you feel comfortable with that.
Speak at a local advisor event
Advisor groups such as the Financial Planning Association or Estate Planning Council occasionally invite
foundations to speak at their events. An inside connection will help. Get your advisor friends to help you
figure out how you get onto the agenda. This will require relationship-building, time, and patience, but it
pays off in the end. A presentation at an advisor event conveys credibility. You need to show that you’ll
be speaking about philanthropy trends or vehicles of interest to the audience, and that you’re not there just
to promote yourself.
There are thousands of local advisor associations around the country. Again, the easiest way to find out
when they meet – and whom to approach to secure a speaking engagement – is to get one or two friendly
advisors to help you with this. Or, call up some of the national associations listed in the “Resources on
Advisors” section and see if they can help.
Speak at a national advisor event
Social change foundations have had some success securing speaking engagements at national advisor
conferences, such as Pride Planners and the Association of African American Financial Advisors. Why
not the women’s funds? A small number of national and regional advisor associations cater to women
(see the “Resources on Advisors” section). Landing one of these speaking engagements is not easy.
Again, you need an association insider – someone you are most likely to find if you can get some help
from your close advisor helpers.
Create a philanthropy resource packet for advisors
Some funds hand out special lists just for advisors, such as “Foundation services for advisors and their
clients” or “Local philanthropy resources.” This raises your credibility as a general philanthropy expert.
Create a “For Advisors” page on your website
This need not be elaborate. It might include such items as “The women’s fund as a philanthropy
resource,” “Tax advantages of public foundations,” “Women’s funds: A legacy solution for your clients.”
Include profiles and testimonials by happy donors. Include situations where a client might like a women’s
fund. Include testimonial quotes from local donors and advisors. Finally, have brief information on ways
to donate & planned giving options (which vary among the member funds). See the advisor page on
WFN’s Web site.
Foundations that have materials on their Web sites for advisors report that it helps build their credibility
among advisors. Advisors will sometimes peruse the Web site prior to a meeting with you, or will
forward information from your site to a client.
Organize a stand-alone seminar for advisors
Invite 1-3 advisors to create a presentation for other advisors on recent developments in charitable tax
laws. Advisors sometimes flock to these events if you offer continuing education credits (CLE, CFP,
etc.). Ask advisor friends how to set this up.
There is some question as to whether it is worth the time for a women’s foundation with limited staff to
try this. One foundation writes, “Offering training sessions for advisors seems to be ineffective in the
sense that the amount of work to set up a session does not justify the number of people who attend.”
However, consider co-sponsoring an advisor event as a collaborative effort with other local public
foundations, donor education organizations, or community foundations.
Advisors are often attracted to technical presentations, such as tax law updates related to charitable
giving. It is not difficult to get a good technical presentation approved for continuing education (CE)
credits for most advisor professions. Offering CE credits for your presentation adds to your event’s
credibility. If you would like to organize a technical presentation, it’s essential to team up with other
organizations that have done this before, or to have an enthusiastic advisor who can help you see this
“As our first step in advisor outreach, we organized a continuing education workshop.
We knew few advisors, so we had to buy lists of CPAs and lawyers. We mailed to
thousands of names, but only 20 people showed up. My advice is: Hold off on the CE
workshop until you have a wide set of advisor contacts who know your foundation and
will show up. – Becky Sykes, Dallas Women’s Foundation
Local financial institutions, such as banks, might jump at the chance to sponsor this sort of event, because
it helps them to build relations with attorneys or tax advisors. If you prefer socially responsible financial
institutions, approach local community development banks or the socially responsible (SRI) mutual fund
companies and money management firms (Citizens Funds, Domini Social Investments, Trillium Asset
Management, etc.). (For a full list, search www.socialfunds.com).
If you already put on wealth conferences or other events for prospective donors, consider including a
special panel where invited advisors may speak on issues such as “How to include nonprofits in your
estate plan.” This requires little effort, and an SRI firm may underwrite it. Presenting such a panel has
two benefits: You build relationships with the presenting advisors, and your donors learn about more
ways they can donate to you.
Consider putting on an event that attracts women donors and advisors. For an excellent
example, see this announcement for an event organized by the Twenty-First Century
Charge advisors for seminars – and offer a 2-for-1 special
Charge advisors a nominal fee ($20) for attending one of your seminars. If they receive Continuing
Education (CE) credits, they’ll be willing to pay up. Then, tell advisors that two may attend for the price
of one. Encourage advisors to bring a colleague who is not as familiar with the Foundation to the seminar.
Do an online or teleconference training for advisors
Same as above – but online. You get a larger audience at lower cost.
Host a “salon”
Ask an enthusiastic advisor to gather other advisors in her office, to learn about your fund. A supportive
and enthusiastic advisor might be convinced to gather a few other local advisors in her office to share her
great foundation “find.” Having an advisor host for other advisors – particularly at a location other than
your foundation office - lends a stamp of “advisor credibility” to your foundation.
In 2003, Women’s Foundation of California, Changemakers and 3 San Francisco area
women’s groups teamed up with a woman banker at US Trust to gather advisors and
present on women’s philanthropy. Teaming up, we found that it was good exposure for
very little work. Prior to the meeting, most of the advisors had no idea about the depth of
local women’s philanthropy resources.
Salons can also be arranged in the house or office of a donor or a board member.
See the Toolkit attachments for a sample PowerPoint presentation to advisors.
Join the Council on Foundations and attend national Community Foundations
You would need to sign on to the Community Foundations Statement and get it approved. You could then
attend COF and Community Foundations of America trainings in marketing and advisor outreach, which
are excellent. You would also gain access to extensive advisor marketing materials on the Web site. This
is the only organization we know of that provides trainings in building relationships with advisors.
Create an account for your foundation with 3-10 local stockbrokerage firms
Sophisticated community foundations are doing this. It builds good relationships with stockbrokers and
creates a smoother process for you to receive gifts. Here’s how it works: If more than one donor has her
brokerage account at Salomon Smith Barney, you would set up a Foundation account there so as to
receive gifts from those donors. (It would then be transferred into your primary account at your main
bank.) The donor’s stockbroker will like you because he only gets a commission for gifting the stock if he
can gift it to another account within his system.
V. “Advisor Speak”:
Tips for Communicating with Advisors
“Most advisors haven’t heard of the women’s funds. If they have, they don’t
equate it with a community foundation. When advisors hear “women’s
foundations” they don’t automatically think of them as resources.” – Catherine
Chen, Piper Jaffray
When WFN informally asked advisors about challenges to women’s foundations, here’s what they had to
Women’s foundations generally have low visibility in the advisor community
They are perceived as smaller than they actually are
They are often seen as charities, rather than as grantmaking foundations
Advisors don’t realize that women’s foundations are around for the long haul, that they have
Therefore, advisors do not yet see women’s funds as “legacy solutions” – stable, long-term
institutions that can take care of their client’s philanthropy if the client dies 30 years from now
Advisors don’t realize that a women’s foundation might offer additional resources for their clients
– such as seminars, giving circles, or grantmaking advice
Fortunately, there are some things you can do about it!
Highlight your grantmaking role
Has the following ever happened to you? Your fundraiser -- armed with the knowledge that community
foundations are attracting advisor referrals in spades – starts approaching advisors with the suggestion
that they think about the women’s foundation. The first advisor she talks to rebuffs her with: “I’m sure
you do great work, but I do not recommend charities to my clients.” You may have even heard this from a
professional advisor that is on your Board or is a major donor.
Here’s our attempt at an explanation for this apparent contradiction. On the one hand, advisors are strictly
schooled to represent the interests of their client and not to “push their values” on clients. So even if they
really like your organization, advisors are commonly very reluctant to pass on information to clients about
you. They fear that the client will see this as an unwelcome personal solicitation from the advisor, and
that it will break trust and rapport.
So how is it that community foundations get so many advisor referrals? The key distinction is that a
community foundation is a grantmaker that helps donors to redistribute funds to other nonprofits. They
are seen as providing a service to donors, rather than as charities raising money for themselves.
Community foundations deliberately play to this advisor perception in their literature: “Why send your
clients to the community foundation? Because, in recommending the community foundation, you are not
recommending a specific charity.”
One social change foundation noted, “We’re used to passionately talking about our programs. But we
need to start talking about the fact that we are great grantmakers. This is ultimately an amazing service
that we provide to donors.”
Consider calling yourself a Women’s Community Foundation – at least in the
company of advisors. Minnesota Women’s Foundation began introducing itself
as “the statewide women’s community foundation,” with positive results.
Advisors are now quicker to understand that the Foundation is a philanthropy
resource for their women clients, and not “just another charity.”
Virtually all U.S. women’s foundations – those that are grantmaking public foundations with 501(c)3
status - meet the Internal Revenue Service’s definition as a “community foundation.” You may or may
not meet the stricter definition of “community foundation” as set forth by the Council on Foundations.
But if you want to call yourself a community foundation, legally speaking it is adequate simply to meet
the IRS definition.
Finally, if you do grantmaking in a wide range of areas, showcase the variety of your programs. There
may be a public perception that you work in just one area. One foundation says, “Once we started meeting
one-on-one and explaining our range of programs, we got great results even from conservative advisors.”
Case studies and illustrations are effective
Philanthropy fluff makes advisors’ eyes glaze over. Most seem to respond best to case studies or
illustrations. Donors probably respond to the same thing. If you’re updating your written materials, or
giving an advisor presentation, consider incorporating case studies highlighting two of your happy
donors. How did you help the donor distribute her money, and how thrilled is the donor now? If one of
your programs has received a lot of media attention at the expense of other programs, illustrate how
donors have supported your full diversity of programs.
Advisors are often “tax-driven”
While studies have shown that most donors contribute to causes for altruistic reasons, rather than for the
tax break, many professional advisors – particularly CPAs or investment advisors – persist in believing
that tax breaks are what really motivate the donor. Ironically, this can work in your favor, since
contributions to public foundations normally produce better tax breaks for donors than contributions to
private foundations. It’s worth familiarizing yourself with the tax advantages of public foundations. See
Appendix I for more reading on this topic.
Advisors are hearing a lot about donor-advised funds
Even an advisor with limited exposure to philanthropy has probably heard of donor-advised funds
(DAFs). DAFs, like community foundations, are often extolled in the popular advisor journals.
Professional advisors, particularly investment advisors and CPAs, see DAFs as useful tools for making
sudden end-of-year donations or for managing the tax implications of windfalls such as inheritances.
Some advisors have DAFs in-house. (For instance, Fidelity advisors tend to send clients to Fidelity
Charitable Gift Fund.) In either case, advisors may be more inclined to refer clients to you if you offer a
DAF, because they see it as a good “tax solution” for clients. Once their clients have contacted you, you
can talk up alternatives such as your general fund or a field-of-interest fund - which, from a tax
perspective, are no less advantageous than the DAF.
Highlight your foundation as an alternative to private foundations
An average advisor may have one or two clients with an existing private foundation. (Most multi-family
offices and “private client services” divisions at banks have many private foundation clients.)
Advisors sometimes have the perception that clients need to choose between a donor-advised fund and a
private foundation. It’s worth reminding advisors that a wealthy family can have multiple giving vehicles.
Furthermore, families disenchanted with the hassles of running a private foundation often grouse about it
with their advisors. Many advisors are not aware that it is easy to dissolve private foundations and turn
assets over to a public foundation. Or that some public foundations can administer private foundations, in
return for which the public foundation charges a fee and influences grantmaking. As you interface with
advisors, consider highlighting this as a “service” you might provide to family foundations. ome
community foundations are doing a decent business converting private foundations!
Highlight your role for donors who wish to give anonymously
Advisors sometimes hear from their clients that they’d like to figure out a way to give anonymously.
Advisors are concerned about accountability
Demand for greater accountability is a trend among all donors, but it is particularly evident among their
advisors. Advisors are impressed if you “use money efficiently.” Be prepared to answer questions
If you have an activist grantmaking board, highlight that you do it not only to be more inclusive, but to
achieve greater effectiveness and greater impact for the dollar. Advisors are trained to think about the
dollar return on an investment.
Some advisors are also attracted to the language of “leverage” or “creating change with money instead of
throwing it away.” Highlight the ways that social change oriented women’s philanthropy leverages
greater results for each dollar, by changing the system rather than just addressing the symptoms.
Advisors may ask about fees
Some advisors are highly focused on fees or costs. That’s part of their training too. They might put their
clients into lower-cost mutual funds as a “fiduciary duty” to clients. Such advisors are often inclined to
send clients to, say, Fidelity Gift Fund, because of the low annual fees. So be prepared to talk about
“value” that you add through activist-advised grantmaking and your community knowledge. “If we
double the effectiveness of donor dollars by helping the donor pick cutting-edge women’s and girls’
causes, then it’s worth the extra 1% annual fee, don’t you think?”
Again, advisors are looking to see how well their clients’ donations would be spent. How much goes to
programs, versus administration and fundraising? If you have high fundraising costs, for instance, you
probably have a good reason for it. If you can confidently explain how you do business and “where the
money goes,” you convey to the advisor that the foundation is well-managed.
Advisors want to know that your endowment and investments are well managed
Be prepared to answer – at least in general terms - an advisor’s question about how your endowment or
your general funds are invested. Tell the advisor which advisors work with your fund on a paid or
volunteer basis. You want her to know that your foundation is in competent hands. Advisors fear that
their client “investments” in you might somehow disappear if poorly managed.
A finance director or CFO may meet professional advisors who – before referring any donors or planned
gifts to you - will want to be persuaded that your finances are well-managed. So your CFO should be
primed on how to impress advisors. Show this Toolkit to your CFO.
If your foundation has a socially responsible investment (SRI) policy or allows SRI options to donors,
highlight this fact with SRI advisors! Anecdotal evidence suggests that SRI advisors are more likely to
refer clients to a foundation that has an SRI investment policy.
Why would “mainstream,” apolitical advisors care about our work?
The advisor whom you recruit as your “main helper” should share your values 100%. And if you’re
nervous about talking to advisors, start with ones you suspect to be politically sympathetic to women’s
However, once you’re starting to feel more comfortable with Advisor Speak, you’re ready to move on to
the so-called “apolitical” advisors. Don’t discount the effectiveness of reaching these folks! Every
advisor is basically seeking to be a resource for clients. Your average advisor wants his women clients to
think he has been helpful to them. He will like referring his women clients to you – again, as long as you
can convey that you are a philanthropy resource to his client, not just a charity that wants her money.
Once you start talking about your values and your unique areas of grantmaking expertise, the advisor will
start to think about which clients would probably really like you. That’s how the referrals start.
Advisors might be hurried
Advisors want to know about you. However, some advisors are inundated with vendors. Even the very
interested advisors might view their time with you as unbillable hours to be rushed through quickly. Don’t
take it personally. Just keep your meeting time short and sweet. Sixty minutes is about right. The best
time of day for financial advisors is often after 4 p.m. Eastern – when the stock market closes. Don’t
expect that you can pop in on an advisor unexpectedly.
Remember to keep the content simple and to the point. An audience of prospective donors might like to
hear all the details about an exciting program, whereas an advisor audience is often just trying to gather
“enough” information to pass on to clients.
It may take a while – so keep on the advisor’s radar
Very occasionally, an advisor will get so excited about your work – or your availability as a philanthropy
resource to clients – that she will immediately tell several clients about you. In 2004, Appalachian
Community Fund (ACF) met with a CPA who was so inspired by ACF’s work that he immediately sent
an email to several clients, recommending that they consider a donation. His email resulted in a $5000
gift from a new donor with no prior relationship to ACF!
However, this is unusual. Even if an advisor is really impressed with you, most likely she will simply add
you to her (often crowded) mental list of helpful outside resources for her clients. It may be months, or
years, before a woman client walks into her office and says “You know, I’d to get involved in women’s
causes but am not sure how.” That may never happen at all.
When it does happen, you want the advisor to have you on the top of her mind. That’s why you need to
regularly remind advisors of your existence. Again, if you have really limited resources to keep up with
advisors, simply add them to your regular mailing list or send them a special advisor email every October.
Advisors are just people
Before you get too nervous trying to learn “advisor talk,” remember that advisors are just people. They
might surprise you with their community involvement or their activist background.
Now - Create an elevator speech!
Elevator speeches – brief explanations of who you are -- are useful everywhere, but foundations have
found them especially effective with advisors. The advisor may have a personal interest in your work, but
the real point of your communication is to get the advisor to start talking about your work with her clients
and with other advisors. The advisor will remember it if it is very simple and easy to understand.
Create an elevator speech that conveys your role as a local philanthropy resource and your availability to
the advisor’s clients. Try to insert an example or two of the causes you can help the advisor’s client to
Sample elevator speech:
“We are the women’s community foundation of X area. We help women and men
who want to give back to the community or to support causes like girls’
education or getting women out of the cycle of homelessness. If you have any
clients who want to explore philanthropy or volunteering, we’ll meet with them
and help them out.”
Notice you are not pushing the advisor to get her clients to donate to you. As explained earlier, that could
cause the advisor to shut down. Instead, emphasize your ability to provide needed help and information to
the advisor’s clients. Once the advisor has referred a client to you, you can cultivate that person as a
What is your advisor speech? Can you say it in 20 seconds?
Now, list some more points you’d like to make if you have the opportunity. Here are some examples of
statements that might speak to advisors:
By directing your client to a women’s foundation, you avoid having to recommend a specific
We help women give grants in a wide range of causes and social issues, such as…
We are set up to accept non-cash gifts, such as life insurance or real estate.
Since we’re a permanent foundation, we are a solution for a client who wants to create a lasting
legacy in her community but who is uncertain which nonprofits will still exist when she dies. She
can leave us in her will. When she dies, we will redistribute the money to the best local nonprofits
tackling any women’s or girls’ causes she wanted to support.
We help women who want to prevent social problems rather than endlessly pouring money into a
charity without solving social issues.
A lot of women want to do more giving or volunteering, but feel a little isolated from all the
activity. We can introduce her to other local women philanthropists or help her figure out where
to put her talents.
We organize fun events, or volunteer opportunities, for women.
A family thinking about setting up a private foundation can work through us at much lower cost.
A client who wants to give to groups anonymously could do so through our foundation.
Like the other community foundations, we offer donor-advised funds.
Those are just examples. List the reasons why you think an advisor should refer a client to you:
VI. Who are the advisors?
Financial Planners, Investment Advisors, Money Managers
The titles “financial planner,” “financial advisor,” “investment advisor,” “stockbroker,” and “money
manager” are used somewhat interchangeably nowadays. For your outreach purposes, some of these
professionals are more useful than others. Their label will not necessarily help you decipher whether they
help clients with philanthropy. So ask.
Advisors that offer “comprehensive financial planning” – including tax, insurance, and estate planning
advice -- are more likely to engage clients in philanthropy than are stockbrokers or advisors that narrowly
specialize in investment advice. That’s because philanthropy is more likely to come up in connection with
tax or estate planning issues. Most people with the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation offer
comprehensive planning. Also look for advisors who do “Fee-Only” advising.
“Money managers” are investment advisors that serve high-net-worth clients. If you’re interested in
doing outreach to the high-net-worth demographic, consider limiting your investment advisor outreach to
those that require high investment minimums (often around $1 million). You can find this information on
the company Web site, or look up local “Money Managers” in Nelson’s Directory at your library.
Another place to focus if you’re specifically looking for high-net-worth donors is the “Private Client
Services” or “Wealth Management” divisions of stockbrokerage companies such as Merrill Lynch,
Salomon Smith Barney, Goldman Sachs, or the trust companies. These divisions usually require their
clients to have $1-10 million and up. Befriend the person who heads up the local division.
Socially responsible investment (SRI) advisors run the gamut. They may be investment advisors,
comprehensive planners, or high-end money managers.
Attorneys are central advisors to donors. Your prospective donors work through attorneys whenever they
need to form a charitable trust, insert your organization in their will, create a private or supporting
foundation, or generally complete their estate planning.
The types of attorneys that might deal with a lot of philanthropically-oriented clients include “trust and
estate” attorneys, “estate planners,” and tax lawyers. Most towns in the U.S. will have dozens to
hundreds of such lawyers. They tend to work for very small firms, and you find them through word-of-
mouth, the local Estate Planning Council, Martindale-Hubbel (see “Resources on Advisors”), or the
A very small contingent of attorneys or firms specialize in nonprofit law, philanthropy, charitable trusts
and foundations. Sometimes the majority of new nonprofits and foundations in any given town are created
by a single lawyer or firm, so ask around local. For national listings, check out the classifieds in the
Chronicle of Philanthropy, or the Family Office Exchange website.
Some public foundations attest that they seem to “hit gold” with attorneys more often than with other
advisors. That’s because attorneys – at least those who specialize in trusts, estates, and tax law – often
have the highest percentage of clients that are wealthy, philanthropically inclined, and in search of donor
advised funds to put in their wills.
Donors often work through trust officers to help set up and administer charitable trusts, to assist with
financial/estate planning, or to administer estates after someone has died. Most trust officers work in
traditional banks such as Northern Trust, Wachovia Bank, Wells Fargo, or Fifth Third Bank. Some
private foundations are actually legally organized as trusts, and bank trust departments may serve as co-
trustees. The very rare bank trust department even offers additional services to private foundations/trusts,
such as mission or grantmaking.
You can identify local branches of large banks and trust companies through your regional Trust
Some bank trust departments that have a large number of philanthropic clients occasionally sponsor
educational events for their clients around philanthropy. Some have brought in outside speakers,
including local nonprofits or community foundations, to present on issues such as “effective
grantmaking.” Try the bank’s website, and track down the director of Private Client Services or Wealth
If you receive a gift from a donor’s trust, you might end up interfacing with a trust officer who is trustee.
Again, your best bet for promoting yourself to that trustee (and her other clients) is to ask your donor to
talk you up to that person or to introduce you. Don’t call the trust officer directly yourself.
There are also “independent” or “private” trustees that work as autonomous advisors rather than at banks.
Doing outreach to private trustees is not a great use of time. However, if one of your donors uses a
private trustee that has a large number of philanthropically-minded clients, it might be worth asking your
donor if you can meet her trustee.
Though there are thousands of tax professionals and accountants that help people with their April 15 tax
returns or more advanced tax planning, the practitioners most likely to work with philanthropists are the
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or Enrolled Agents (EAs). A prospective donor who wants to sell
her business, and give some of the proceeds to nonprofits, might approach her CPA for tax advice first.
CPAs are often the professional advisor of choice for small family foundations.
So, on the upside, each tax specialist may have several philanthropic clients. On the downside, studies
have shown that CPAs and EAs on the average tend to have less formal training than other advisors in
charitable giving, and are least likely to bring up philanthropy as an option for clients. For what it’s
worth, some advisor outreach staff at community foundations observe that tax specialists are “the hardest
group,” the least responsive to appeals to refer their clients.
Their advice: Don’t go out of your way to do outreach to new tax specialists. But if there are CPAs or
EAs who are donors to your foundation, or are interested in your work, and if they share your social
values, definitely work with them! A tax specialist who is interested in women’s issues may attract
similar clients. And occasionally you will run across a CPA who is very well-versed in philanthropy and
has a number of philanthropic clients, including family foundations.
Insurance agents who sell life insurance in particular often interact with philanthropically-minded clients.
Wealthy clients who want to “give away” much of their estate to nonprofits, will often purchase life
insurance so that their heirs still get something after their death. Also, sometimes people own cash life
insurance policies that they no longer need. These policies, or their proceeds, can be donated to
Life insurance agents will most commonly have the designation Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) or
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).
Like CPAs, insurance agents probably don’t warrant special outreach efforts. Just don’t be surprised if,
one day, your donor’s insurance agent plays a positive role in engineering a donation to your
Wealth counseling is relatively new. The small handful of people nationally who call themselves “wealth
counselors” represent a variety of professions, including financial planning, the law, family philanthropy,
psychology, psychotherapy, or coaching. The common role of wealth counselors is to assist wealthy
individuals and families to resolve emotional and “values” issues around their money. Sometimes a new
inheritor will hire a wealth counselor to process through “money shock” before deciding how to manage
the money and/or give it away. Depending on their training, wealth counselors might assist these clients
via therapy, coaching, financial education, or “values-based estate planning.”
There is no special national association for wealth counselors with a psychotherapy or coaching
background. These advisors are found through word-of-mouth, or through venues such as More Than
Money’s Professional Associate Member Network (also on the Web). Examples of organizations
providing wealth counseling are the Sudden Money Institute and Money, Meaning and Choices.
Philanthropic advising is also a relatively new profession. These advisors help individual donors or
foundations to develop or execute a philanthropic plan. Beyond that, one type of philanthropic advisor
might offer dramatically different types of services than another. Here’s roughly how the profession
“Financial-side” philanthropic advisors are basically financial professionals or attorneys that are highly
trained or focused on charitable giving. Some offer comprehensive financial/estate planning, while others
specialize in just the charitable giving piece. A donor with a complex financial situation might hire such
an advisor to help her figure out which pieces of her estate to give away. Find local “financial-side”
philanthropic advisors through the website of the National Association of Philanthropic Planners (NAPP)
or by attending local meetings of the Planned Giving Council (National Committee on Planned Giving).
“Program-side” philanthropic advisors help clients to formulate philanthropic mission statements or
program areas, to conduct grantmaking, or to research nonprofits. Some advisors specialize in organizing
and running family foundations. These advisors do not have a national association. You can find them in
the More Than Money Professional Associate Network, the National Center for Family Philanthropy, the
classifieds in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and sometimes through your Regional Association of
“Planned giving consultants” help charities to set up planned giving and bequest programs, enabling
prospective donors to give a wider array of assets to the charity. Planned giving consultants are
appropriate if you need to set up a planned giving program for your organization, but they are often not
the best avenue for outreach to advisors or donors.
Families with exceptional wealth will sometimes establish a “family office” that personally serves the
family’s whole range of financial needs. A family office is usually staffed by a small team of
professional advisors, possibly including a financial planner, attorney, trust officer, CPA, and/or
“Multi-family offices” are similar advisor teams that serve several families rather than one. Nationally,
there are at least 350 family offices, and 50 multi-family offices. The average net worth of a family
utilizing a family office structure is $350 million.
Family offices tend to be extremely protective of their clients. If you do have a wealthy donor who uses a
multi-family office structure, know that your donor may have excellent access to other very wealthy
families within the office. Further, you might consider doing a mailing to any multi-family offices in
your region. (If the families have their own foundations, try to find publicly available information on
those foundations first.) See the Family Office Exchange (FOX) website for a directory of multi-family
offices, and FOX’s separate directory of affiliated professional advisors.
Part C: Special concerns and resources
Women’s funds in community foundations
Women’s funds within a community foundation (CF) have a special set of opportunities around planned
giving. In all likelihood, your CF already has a good planned infrastructure in place. It has probably
accepted multiple planned gifts and most likely has dealt with unusual gifts such as art or real estate. It
may offer charitable gift annuities.
If you have a good relationship, consider partnering with your CF to market planned gifts. The Women’s
Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is starting to do this. This particular CF has raised 80% of its
endowment through planned gifts, so clearly it has substantial marketing expertise to share with the
Women’s Fund. The CF also has a Planned Giving Advisory Committee to develop relationships with
professional advisors; the Women’s Fund does not have to create a separate advisory board. Working
together has also reduced marketing costs.
Ways to collaborate with your CF:
Jointly organize a planned giving seminar for donors
Start meeting with donors to raise money jointly for the CF and the Women’s Fund
Bequests can be split between the Women’s Funds and the CF’s endowment or other grantees
If you are just learning planned giving, befriend the development staff at the CF. The staff may be willing
to accompany you in your first planned giving discussions with your donors.
“Make friends with the development staff within the CF. Learn what their job is. Learn
what they are doing around advisor outreach.” – Michele Arney, Women’s Fund of the
Greater Milwaukee Foundation
Another women’s fund within a CF – the Vermont Women’s Fund - took advantage of the CF’s
charitable gift annuity program (a luxury for most women’s funds) by writing up a gift annuity story in
the newsletter. Now the Women’s Fund includes “some sweet little thing” about planned giving in every
Find out how your CF is marketing to professional advisors. If the CF offers seminars for advisors, you
could suggest organizing one of them jointly. You could invite women advisors, in exchange for which
the CF gives you a speaking spot in the program.
What sorts of handouts is your CF giving to advisors? Can you add a Women’s Fund logo or sticker to
them? One great advantage of most community foundations is that they have access to about two dozen
downloadable templates for professional advisors at the Web site the National Marketing Action Team.
Even if your CF is not using all of them, you may be invited to use them. Many of NMAT’s materials
overemphasize donor advised funds, but others might be serviceable for you.
A possible downside of working with your CF around planned giving – beyond the question of whether
you have a good relationship – is that certain of the CF’s development staff may have the wrong
personality for talking to your donors. A donor wants to feel doubly comfortable and excited about you
before she will leave a substantial legacy gift. If the CF’s planned giving staff member is too stodgy or is
simply not a good personality match for your donors, then including that staff member in donor
conversations may not be worth it, no matter how experienced he may be in planned giving. Learn from
him what you can – or find some volunteer or paid advisors of your own (see the sections in this Toolkit
on paid and volunteer advisors).
Non-U.S. women’s funds and planned giving
For non-U.S. women’s funds, there are two distinct planned giving issues: Raising money from donors
within your own country; and raising money from donors outside your country.
Planned gifts from your in-country donors (and within Europe)
Most of the recommendations in this Toolkit have been based on the experiences of U.S. women’s
foundations raising money from U.S. donors. Clearly, what will appeal to the heart of your donors, in
your country, will be very different culturally than it is in the U.S. So rather than translating U.S. planned
giving marketing materials into your language, you will be using your own instincts about what works in
your country. What would inspire a donor in your country to leave a legacy?
Also, the planned giving vehicles, and the legal and tax issues for donors, will be completely different in
each country. You and your donors will need to find planned giving specialists or professional advisors
within the country who can advise on the types of gifts that can be made (example: what sorts of trusts),
the types of assets that can be contributed (example: stocks), and the legal and tax questions surrounding
each of these items.
European women’s foundations might start with the European Association for Planned Giving
(www.plannedgiving.org.uk), which has membership and events in several countries. An excellent new
site with tax and legal information for donors and financial advisors arranging cross-border giving within
Europe is www.givingineurope.org. If you are located in Europe, you may create a link to this site from
your own Web site as a way of helping European donors and their advisors figure out how to arrange a
donation from one of the other European countries.
Apparently, planned giving is booming in Italy, where foundations can be set up to preserve control of a
family business and to avoid taxes and death duties. It is also catching on in Britain, where Tony Blair’s
3-year “Giving Campaign” has been encouraging legacy giving and improving the tax incentives to do so.
Nearly 1000 new foundations per year are being created in Germany, where founders prefer lifetime
giving and tend to stay actively involved with their foundations. Planned giving specialists in France,
Austria and Belgium are working to replicate those successes by passing new legislation and increasing
popular awareness of legacy giving. The authors do not have information about developments in Eastern
Generally, most of Europe does not have charitable remainder trusts, gift annuities, or other vehicles
through which a donor could give a women’s foundation an asset in exchange for an annual income. That
may change with new legislation.
Canadian planned giving resources include the Canadian Association of Gift Planners and the Canadian
Centre for Philanthropy. National professional advisor associations include the Canadian Association of
Financial Planners, Canadian Bar Association (attorneys), and Canadian Institute of Chartered
Accountants. All of these organizations are instantly findable on the Web. A Charitable Giving Guide for
Individual Donors can be downloaded in PDF format for free (www.pwcglobal.com). It has very
extensive planned giving information.
The Fundraising Institute of Australia teaches planned giving courses. www.fia.org.au
In 2004, the U.S., Canadian and European planned giving associations formed the International Gift
Planning Alliance to promote cross-border giving and to understand the tax issues involved for donors.
This Alliance has not yet produced any tools, but it is something to watch. (For more information, see
www.ncpg.org and click on “International Gift Planning Alliance.”)
The authors are not aware of the planned giving resources in countries other than those listed above.
Raising planned gifts from U.S. donors
Non-U.S. women’s funds have several options for raising planned gifts from U.S. donors.
Option 1: Simply encourage U.S. donors to leave bequests for you in their will or to make major gifts
during their lifetime and send them to you directly.
The U.S. donor (or her heirs) simply wires you money. This is very easy from your point of view.
However, if it is a large gift, it might present some complications to the U.S. donor. She generally cannot
directly donate a large asset to you. She will usually have to sell it, pay capital gains taxes and income
taxes, and then send the cash. She may have to pay a gift tax as well. The taxes will significantly reduce
the amount of the gift, or might discourage her from making a gift to you altogether.
If the gift is a large, non-cash gift (for example, shares of stock), encourage your U.S. donor to talk to a
tax or legal advisor that understands cross-border philanthropy and can explain how it will impact her
personal finances. The U.S. has a separate tax treaty with each country, so a U.S. donor that has given to a
women’s foundation in France will face a different situation than when giving to the foundation in
Mongolia. There are only a very small number of U.S. advisors that understand how to do trans-boundary
planned giving. The best one is probably lawyer Jane Peebles in Los Angeles: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone
Option 2: Create an organization that has U.S. charity status. (Under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code,
you would form a “501c3” charity.)
Creating a charity in the U.S. takes about one year and may cost from $500-$5,000 depending on whether
you can get a pro bono (free) U.S. lawyer to help you. It is not easy to find a lawyer who will do this for
free, but you could ask your dedicated U.S. donors for help in finding one. Once you have charity status
in the U.S., American donors can donate to your U.S. organization, which should encourage gifts because
it is simple and the donors get the U.S. tax benefits. Your U.S. organization then sends the money to you.
It is probably not worth doing this unless you have a large number of major U.S. donors. Also, unless you
can pay a very knowledgeable fundraiser to help you, it will probably be difficult to attract and manage
planned gifts through that charity, if you are working from a great distance.
Option 3: Find an existing U.S. foundation or charity that can accept donations from U.S. donors on your
behalf – including planned gifts - and send you the cash.
This is probably the best solution of all. The U.S. foundation will take a fee for doing this (commonly 5-
10% of the donation). But you are making things very simple for the U.S. donor, so this solution is almost
certain to result in increased gifts.
The most well-known U.S. foundations that will process such gifts include Tides Foundation and Global
Fund for Women (GFW). The Tides program is called Tides Global Support Funds (write
email@example.com). The more common solution for foreign women’s funds is to apply for fiscal sponsorship
status at the GFW. Both Tides and GFW are able to accept planned gifts, with some limitations.
Here is how the Global Fund for Women sponsorship program works:
Apply to become a partner. The current contact person is Sarah Chester, Grants Administrator:
Inform your U.S. donors that if they would like to support you, they need only to send a donation
or a planned gift to GFW and to tell GFW to send the donation to your organization.
After receiving several donations for you, GFW will wire them to you all at one time.
GFW charges a 5% fee.
Whatever you decide about U.S. donors and planned gifts, try to inform them of their options by email
and on an English language page of your Web site in English. Consider noting on the English Web page
that the information is “For U.S. donors and their professional advisors.” Here is some sample language
to consider (using the example of a women’s fund working through GFW):
Sample for English language Web page
For U.S. donors and their professional advisors
If you are a U.S. donor, your contribution can create amazing change for women and girls
in our country! [Insert more information about your fund and the impacts of their
How to give: you can donate to our Foundation and still receive all of the tax benefits of
donating to a U.S. charity. Simply make a direct donation to Global Fund for Women
[insert GFW contact information here], a U.S. tax-exempt charity, and earmark the gift
for [name of your women’s fund]. If you wish to donate stocks or life insurance, to create
a charitable trust, or to remember us in your will or living trust, you may do so by
arranging in advance with Global Fund for Women.
Most U.S. professional advisors are a little afraid of international giving. If they think it is complicated to
give to you, they may discourage your donor from giving. That is why your headline speaks to
“professional advisors” and the text emphasizes that your U.S. partner is a “tax-exempt” charity. That
should relieve any concerns of the advisor.
If all of this planned giving information seems overwhelming, consider just taking these two steps: (1)
Encourage U.S. donors to make gifts of stock through your U.S. fiscal sponsor (charity partner). Gifts of
stock are simple to accomplish, and are easy for donors to understand. (2) Tell U.S. donors they can leave
you in their will. Those are the two most important points.
Resources on planned giving
Complete Guide to Planned Giving. Everything You Need to Know to Compete Successfully for Major
Gifts, by Debra Ashton, 2004. This is by far the best book. Order from: www.debraashton.com
Planned Giving for Small Nonprofits. By Ronald R. Jordan & Katelyn L. Quynn, 2002.
Estate Planning for Dummies. By N. Brian Caverly and Jordan S. Simon, 2003.
Online educational materials
www.pgcoach.com – A great website for educating yourself and your management about planned giving.
A variety of services and products are offered. Subscribe to the free weekly email planned giving tips.
Charitable tax planning and trusts:
Tax advantages of giving to public foundations:
“Taxwise Giving”: Philanthropy Tax Institute, Conrad Teitell, 800-243-9122
Organizations and newsletters
www.ncpg.org - National Committee on Planned Giving. A federation of more than 105 local planned
giving councils, representing more than 10,000 planned giving officers and related professionals, whose
mission is to facilitate, coordinate and encourage the education, training and communication among
professionals in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
http://www.pgtoday.com Planned giving today is a newsletter for written by planned giving
professionals. It covers such topics as how to establish and promote a planned giving program, develop
donor relationships and deal with technical aspects of planned gifts.
www.acga.org American Council on Gift Annuities
www.nsfre.org Association of Fundraising Professionals
www.case.org Council for Advancement and Support of Education
www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/ Indiana University - Fund Raising School
www.philanthropy.com/ Chronicle of Philanthropy
Consultants and marketing help
Often the best strategy is to find a local consultant. This consultant will know local resources, advisors,
and state law. She can meet in person with your local donors. Find candidates by attending a meeting of
your local Planned Giving Council. You might also try:
An alternative is to work with a national planned giving consulting firm. Most of these firms are focused
on helping you with marketing language and strategies, but some also provide software or administration
www.malwarwick.com This firm got high marks from one of the women’s funds for its approachability
and its orientation towards nonprofits working for social justice. Marketing materials, administrative help
and general consulting.
www.stelter.com Planned giving newsletters, brochures and target mailers, web marketing and age
www.rrnewkirk.com Planned giving newsletters, brochures and target mailers, web marketing and age
www.sharpenet.com Planned giving newsletters, brochures and target mailers, web marketing and age
www.Pentera.com Planned giving newsletters, brochures and target mailers, web marketing and age
www.rrnewkirk.com Planned giving newsletters, brochures and target mailers, web marketing and age
www.pgresources.com Planned Giving Resources is a consulting service offering assistance with state-by
state charitable gift annuity regulations and gift processing.
www.fordthompson.com – Planned giving policies and procedures manual, and brochures.
www.plangiv.com A Canadian consulting firm offering a range of products.
Planned Giving Software, gift calculators, and bequest tracking
www.crescendo.com - Planned Giving Software to run gift calculations for charitable gift annuities and
charitable trusts and other products.
www.pgcalc.com -. Planned Giving marketing and planned gift management and reporting software.
Planned Giving Manager. Mini Manager, Gift Wrap, Pooled (Income) Fund Organizer, Universal Sub
www.bipster.com - Database software that automates processing and record keeping of both realized
bequests and bequest expectancies, and automates the communications process with attorneys and
Resources on advisors
Article about how to do advisor outreach
“Nonprofit Marketing Strategies to Reach Donor Advisors.” By Kathryn Miree. Journal of Gift Planning,
Consultants on advisor outreach
Our advice is to work with a local consultant who can help you with both planned giving and advisor
outreach. However, if you want to build a sophisticated advisor outreach program and have the resources
to do so, here are two excellent consultants that work nationally:
Nancy Kyger, Connecticut: (203) 421-1149, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathryn Miree, Alabama: (205) 939-0003, email@example.com
Articles for advisors
“Advisors’ Enthusiasm Helps To Shape Clients’ Charitable Role.” By Joe Breiteneicher. Trusts &
Estates, August 1996. www.tpi.org/promoting/publications.htm
“Social Change Philanthropy.” By Lisa Tracy and Tracy Gary. Green Money Journal, February/March
2003, www.greenmoneyjournal.com. For SRI advisors.
Associations of women advisors
Following are the national associations. There may also be a local or statewide association of women
lawyers, financial advisors or accountants – ask locally.
National Association of Securities Professionals
(“Minorities and women in the securities industry”)
American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession (lawyers)
American Women’s Society of CPAs
American Society of Women Accountants
National Association of Insurance Women (International)
Other advisor associations
National Association of Estate Planners & Councils
(Trust & estate attorneys)
American College of Trusts and Estate Counsel
Lists attorneys by location, area of practice, and firm name
Hispanic National Bar Association
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Asian American Bar Association
(In certain states and metropolitan areas – no national website)
National Bar Association (African-American lawyers)
National Lesbian and Gay Law Association
National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (fee-only advisors)
Association of African American Financial Advisors
Social Investment Forum Annual Directory (SRI advisors)
First Affirmative Financial Network (SRI advisors)
State Societies of CPAs
(Ask if your Society has an Estate Planning Committee or a Personal Financial Planning Committee)
National Association of Black Accountants
American Association of Hispanic CPAs
National Association of Philanthropic Planners
Substantial research for this Toolkit was provided by Changemakers. In addition, Women’s Funding
Network would like to thank our Planned Giving Advisory Committee and all of the women’s funds for
their contributions for this Toolkit.