6 Strategies to Avoid in Planned Giving Marketing

Marketing is an increasingly important activity for gift planners, yet also one that can waste precious time and money.  It is imperative that a gift planner be strategic and analytical, continually paying attention to what’s working, what’s not, and why. Here are some examples of ways that might appeal to your time-saving sensibilities, but will expose you to inefficiency in the long-run.

1. Don’t create a strategic marketing plan.

    A planned giving program can easily become stalled when marketing is sporadic or inconsistent.  A charity needs a multi-year, multifaceted plan with one or more marketing activities in process at all times. Some techniques will produce the desired results, others will not.  Have an evaluation plan associated with every marketing effort you launch, and document your results.

    2. Forget about what resources you actually have, just make a plan that sounds impressive.

    The best marketing plans are tailored not only to the objectives of the program but also to the resources at its disposal.

    3. Wait until your marketing plan is perfect before you get started.

    Planning is not the easy part, but it’s tempting to focus on planning long after it’s time to start executing. Somewhat ironically, the process of documenting the elements of a thorough marketing plan can, at some point, become counterproductive.  The most important part of the plan is the informed thinking that goes into it. What ends up being reflected on paper can consist of little more than a spreadsheet detailing projects, deadlines, themes, responsibilities, and feedback loops.  Your plan can be comprehensive without going overboard.

    4. Ignore the strategic marketing plan you created.

      As months go by, schedules may slip, priorities may change, or a key colleague may leave the charity and a delay occur in hiring his or her replacement. A gift planner should expect that something will tend to derail one aspect of the plan or another and then be prepared to modify the plan or alleviate the cause of deviation from the plan. Changes in the environment do not render a plan irrelevant. It takes discipline to continue to use the written plan as a map.

      5. Ignore messaging from other parts of the organization.

      The relationship between gift planning staff and other development staff is critical.  So, too, is the integration of their messaging. The most successful marketing programs are those in which planned giving is woven into the charity’s overall development efforts, resulting in a cohesive fundraising messaging strategy.

      6. Focus on new leads and assume your identified contacts are being properly nurtured.

        A marketing plan that results in a constant flood of new prospects the gift planner has insufficient time to contact and nurture is a recipe for frustration, both for the gift planner and for the prospects. 

        Promising leads can often be gathered not so much as a result of broad promotional activities, but instead through carefully examining existing records and working with colleagues (whether in the development department or elsewhere in the organization) to identify folks worthy of some fairly targeted contact.