It's All on You

To be a great major gift officer you have to be really good at listening to your donors.  

Among other things, listen for clues that an asset-based or planned gift might be a better than a straight up cash donation. If you hear any variation of the following comments, be prepared to take the conversation to the next level.

“My CD’s have been paying hardly anything for the past several years.”

“I inherited stock from an aunt in 1984 and it has never paid a dividend.”

“We haven’t been to our beach house for more than a year.

“I’m so tired of managing our rental property.”

“As you know, I’ve never married.”

“I don’t want my estate to have to pay tax.”

“I’d like to get rid of the farm I inherited 10 years ago but the taxes to dispose of it are just out of line, I just don’t see any options but to hang on to it.”

“Because we have not had children of our own we have helped our nieces and nephews with their college expenses.”

The first response, If possible, is to call in your gift planning colleague or advisor. Read more about this option here. 

But what if there is no one to bring in right away, either because you are working with staff that have limited time, or are in an organization without a gift planning professional?

Just as you have your elevator speech for sharing what you do and your "isn’t it amazing" stories that make the case for institutional support, you need have a clear and practiced response when explaining what creative gift planning can accomplish.

Your want the donor to appreciate that gift planning can provide many unique outcomes they may find favorable to a cash donation. Leading them down this path will build your credibility with your donors. They will appreciate your interest and respect your knowledge.

What to Say

Describe how the transfer of appreciated assets can be tax-advantaged and how a tax-advantaged trust can provide support for them and/or their loved ones. Stories will best communicate your message. Search out the stories you can use - stories from your own experiences working with donors, examples from your gift planning office or from the volunteer experts that support your efforts.

Be selective in your word choice:

Consider the Following     

Tax-advantaged gift                  
Tax-advantaged trust               
Care for yourself and/or loved ones and the causes you care about       

Be Careful About

Charitable gift
Life-Income gift
Donate to charity and receive tax benefits 

If you're new to all this and are worried about starting a conversation, make your elevator speech short, and end it with an offer to bring in a colleague to talk with them. Of course, you then need to find someone to help you; but you can do that. You just bought yourself some time to figure it out. 

Continue to learn. The more you know, the further you can explore the donor's situation. You will earn their respect and they will trust that you are pursuing a legitimate gift opportunity worthy of everyone's time.