Social media are often associated with young people, while planned giving is associated with older donors—but it is possible to mix the two and produce results.
“The people most willing to give you a planned gift are the people who have been giving to you for years,” said Kristen Schultz Jaarda, senior vice president at Crescendo Interactive. Because social media are built on relationships, they can offer a great way to appeal to those dedicated donors, she said.
In a session at the Association of Fundraising Professionals annual meeting, in Vancouver, Ms. Jaarda and Carole Touchinski, executive director of the Marquette County Community Foundation, shared lessons they’ve learned using Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to promote planned gifts.
Some of those lessons:
Test the waters. If you aren’t sure if your Facebook fans will respond to a post about planned gifts, just try, said Ms. Jaarda. If you get several responses or questions, you know to post messages about planned gifts more often. She said most organizations post once or twice a month about planned gifts.
Start with bequests. Because so many planned gifts are bequests, and those are simple for people to understand, Ms. Jaarda suggested opening a social-media conversation by mentioning those.
Continue the conversation privately. Social media may be a good place to spark interest in planned giving, but they aren’t usually where people want to talk about it, Ms. Touchinski said. She always points people to additional online resources and includes her foundation’s phone number so people can speak privately about their gifts.
Provide solutions. Ms. Touchinski said she has been successful posting about the need for estate planning, then providing links to tools like online calculators or articles on the community foundation’s Web site. One offer for a free estate-planning book posted on the Marquette County Community Foundation’s page prompted 20 calls. Ms. Touchinski plans to follow up with those donors once they’ve had time to read the book.
Find common questions. Ms. Touchinski noticed that several donors were calling with the same questions about planned gifts, so she posted an answer to the one most frequently posed on Facebook, which led to praise from a donor.
Consider a page just for planned giving. Several universities have experimented with Facebook pages specifically for people who have made planned gifts, members of their “heritage societies,” Ms. Jaarda said. Two examples are the Charles Tufts Society at Tufts University and the Charles C. Chapman Heritage Society at Chapman University.
Send an e-mail to Cody Switzer.