Posts Tagged ‘Ken Burnett’

Demystify planned giving: Bequests are best

Ken Burnett’s Relationship Fundraising is a broad overview of the fundraising profession and how practitioners can incorporate relationship building in everything they do. One area in particular that Burnett stresses is the value of promoting bequests. Too often nonprofit executives assume a hands-off approach to planned giving because it appears to involve technical knowledge beyond their comfort level. In reality, Burnett claims that we as fundraisers can easily incorporate the bequest language into all of our marketing strategies to get current and potential donors thinking about our organizations when they make their long-term plans. Burnett goes on to encourage nonprofits to borrow language they like from peer organizations who are successfully cultivating planned gifts.

Some facts about bequests from Relationship Fundraising:

Nonprofits depend on bequest income. It accounts for about one-third of all voluntary income and is bigger than both government grants and donations from grand-making foundations.

Only one in eight wills (12%) mention a nonprofit. That’s just six percent of the population who will support their favorite causes in this most substantial and least painful of ways.

The average age of someone who leaves a bequest to a nonprofit is eighty-one years.

The average age of a final will that includes a bequest to a nonprofit is less than five years (25% are less than one year old). Therefore, bequest marketing is not nearly as long term as fundraisers might suppose.

Bequest income can be influenced and even predicted.

Bequests account for by far the largest part of planned giving, they are the most important target of relationship fundraising. Some bequest marketing strategies include:

    Constantly reinforce your bequest message to existing supporters. Then characterize this segment and begin to look for similar targets outside of your existing supporters.

    Promote benefits to leaving a bequest and integrate bequest messages into fundraising and publicity.

    Research the bequest area and analyze your own records.

    Prepare an integrated set of materials that are relevant and help others prepare or change a will.

    Prepare a strategy, brief the staff and appoint one senior staff member to build relationships with bequest prospects.

    Communicate regularly with people who assist potential donors (lawyers, financial advisors, etc.).

    Stage a major media launch of a campaign using materials and video to promote the importance of bequests to the organization. Start a One Percent Club where donors can leave one percent of the residue of their estate.

    Reinvest a percentage of current bequest income in future promotions.

    Spotlight bequest donors in your materials, newsletters and annual reports. Consider a suitable “celebrity” or high-profile bequest donor to introduce your campaign.

    Keep great records and establish a bequest database.

    Read the full summary of Relationship Fundraising by subscribing to our Page to Practice™ library or visit the CausePlanet summary store for single titles.

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    Essentials of fundraising for the memory-challenged

    Limited budgets require economies of scale so nonprofits must make important choices that allow them to generate quality donor relations—not quantity. Mass marketing is dead; nonprofits must acknowledge the awesome possibilities real donor relationships bring and carry out their plans with their eye on what the donor wants—not what they think they want.

    “Despite the recession, despite greatly increased competition, despite the pace and scale of recent developments, there have never been more opportunities for relationship fundraisers than now,” says Burnett. It is critical that nonprofits take a meticulous inventory of how they are communicating with prospects and donors and ask themselves the question “Are we thinking of the donor or the gift when we craft a plan or a message?”

    Ken Burnett’s Relationship Fundraising is a broad overview of the fundraising profession and how practitioners can incorporate relationship-building in everything strategy. Burnett lays the groundwork by exploring what motivates people to give and what makes a successful fundraiser. This list below is excerpted from Relationship Fundraising and is comprised of fundraising essentials every practitioner should know and it’s helpful to be reminded of every now and then.

    An excerpt of essential foundations of fundraising

      Successful fundraising involves storytelling.

      Great fundraising is sharing. Share goals, encourage involvement. Involved donors give more.

      Turn complaints into support. The most loyal donor has complained and received a satisfactory response.

      The value of trustworthiness to a donor increases in importance as they get older.

      Great fundraising requires imagination.

      Great fundraising is getting great results. If your results are mediocre, your fundraising probably is too.

      Be honest, open and truthful with donors. They do not forgive you if you are less than straight with them.

      Avoid waste. Donors hate waste.

      Technique must never be allowed to obscure sincerity. As all actors know, you can’t fake sincerity.

      Fundraisers must talk to donors where they are. That’s not always where the fundraiser wants them to be.

      Fundraisers and donors have a relationship of shared conviction.

      Great fundraising means being “15 minutes ahead” so you can spot opportunities and take careful risks.

      Fundraisers should learn the lessons of history and experience. Do your homework.

      Always “thank” properly, often [and promptly]. Be brilliant at welcoming new donors.

      Read the full summary of Relationship Fundraising by subscribing to our Page to Practice™ library or visit the CausePlanet summary store for single titles.


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      How Ken Burnett helped me remember not-so-good times in Nepal


      Nanda talking at a public meeting in her village in Jamunia, Nepal.

      Reading Ken Burnett’s article, “How Nanda found her voice in Nepal,” brought to mind so many thoughts and feelings about the time I spent in Katmandu 10 years ago. I had the pleasure of teaching at an extension campus of the University of Colorado at Denver in Katmandu during the winter and spring of 1998. I don’t think a day has gone by when I haven’t thought about some aspect of my brief four months there. The smell of burning leaves has the power to put me right back on a Katmandu street, passing a weathered-looking Nepali man tending a small fire on the side of the road, probably making himself or his friends some chai tea.

      When people ask me what I liked best about Nepal, I immediately respond “the people.” The Nepalis I encountered on a day-to-day basis were kind and warm, and would go out of their way to help you, especially in the small villages. One time I was hiking (or “trekking,” as they call it in Nepal) between two small villages. It was getting dark, and we were walking downhill. My group was way ahead of me and the two other young American women who were with me, because we were having a hard time walking downhill on snow and ice. As we slowly made our way down the trail, slipping and sliding all the way, having a hard time finding our footing, a Nepali man came scurrying down the trail behind us, in flip-flops! He was obviously in a hurry, but smiled and nodded as he flew past us. But when he got farther down the trail, he looked up and saw how much trouble we were having. He retraced his steps, then helped each of us down individually, before going back up to help the next woman. It’s small instances like this that I think about when I think of the Nepali people.

      So, it was with great sadness that I read about Ken’s time in Jamunia, a small village in southern Nepal, and the physical and sexual abuse that the women there endure. Although I was always treated with kindness wherever I went, the subservience of women was something I saw everyday, even in the home where I lived. I lived with a well-to-do Nepali family, which consisted of the father, mother, their college-aged son, their high-school-aged son, their daughter-in-law, Bina, and her three-year-old son. Bina’s husband was living in Denver at the time, working and sending money home.

      It was clear from the first day of my visit that Baba, the mother, and Bina were second-class citizens in their own home. For starters, when Bina and her husband got married, they moved in with her husband’s family, which is the tradition in Nepal. But then her husband left her to move to the United States. Bina was, in effect, a servant in her in-laws’ home. She cleaned and helped cook, even though the family had a hired cook, who also cleaned. She had no friends, no social life to speak of. She took care of her son and her in-laws’ home. Although Baba ate dinner with us every night, Bina ate earlier with her son in the kitchen. We never saw her in the evening. When we had visitors, both Baba and Bina ate in the kitchen, sitting on small stools with plates on their laps. I was allowed to eat with the rest of the family, however, because I was American. I do remember, though, being passed over for seconds when meat was served at dinner, although all the men/boys at the table were offered meat once, then twice. It was a rude awakening to how women in Nepal are treated as “less than.”

      So, it was heartening to read about ActionAid and the work they are doing in Nepal and elsewhere to empower women and other disenfranchised people. There are so many nonprofits doing such great, humanitarian work out there that I am always grateful when a new organization is called to my attention—especially one that works with people who are dear to my heart.

      See also:

      Ken Burnett’s Relationship Fundraising

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