Planned giving—in which a donor gives a major gift in the context of financial or estate planning—is one of the best avenues for building donations for many nonprofits, currently representing 7-9% of charitable gifts. Your nonprofit may have a planned giving program, but have you thought to direct the power of YouTube and other social media tools in this direction? As  Lorri Greif, CFRE at Breakthrough Philanthropy said at a recent luncheon of fundraising professionals, “There’s no point in having a planned giving program if you are not going to get out and wage the campaign!” And she notes that planned gifts are coming not only to larger museums and hospitals, but to smaller organizations not afraid to ask.

Video has huge potential for planned giving

One of the social media stand-outs for reaching potential planned givers and keeping current ones engaged is online video. Here’s a terrific video that talks about planned giving:
The Stelter Group’s Company’s 2012 report on donors, “What Makes Them Give?,” showed a large number of planned giving prospects and planned givers agreeing with the statement that giving to charity can make the world a better place. Accordingly, a great strategy may be to emphasize this point in your social media and video, much as Seva Canada does. Simon Trevelyan, a leading legacy marketing specialist in Canada, developed Seva Canada’s planned giving online video strategy.  Their legacy webpage includes the video above, a legacy survey, and booklet.  He states that Seva Canada is “getting legacy leads each month from people that land on the homepage and complete the survey. The video pulls on the heart strings and gets
[viewers] in the right frame of mind.” About two people  a month land on the webpage and ultimately express interest in legacy giving to Seva Canada, but Simon adds, “They get way more leads and commitments from sending the survey and video link out to supporters.” This online video approach saves money, too, with the costs to generate legacy giving leads far lower than such methods as advertising in planned giving supplements, estate planning seminars, estate planning newsletters, and direct mail appeals.  Cost reduction is one of the benefits of social media and online video. And they are also powerful tools for keeping planned giving donors engaged in the years to come.

Planned giving prospects are younger than you think

You may still hesitate about using social media tools in the realm of planned giving because you have a mental picture of the target audience for planned giving as old.  However, Stelter’s recent data suggests that givers generally determine planned gifts when they are ages 40-54. In fact, sixty percent of the best prospects fall into this age group, as many people older than 54 have already made key decisions concerning their estates.

Social media users are older than you think

While people over 55 do have lower engagement with social media than their younger cohorts, Ignite Social media reports that worldwide YouTube users and Facebook users fall more into the 48-54 age range than any other (this probably relates in part to how big that demographic is). LinkedIn is about equally distributed between the dominant 35-44 and 45-54 groups, and there are only slightly more 25-34 year olds on Twitter than 35-44 and 45-54 year olds.

Using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn in your planned giving campaign

The question is therefore not “if,” but how and when to use social media to help your organization achieve results in planned giving. Planned giving offers, potentially, big prizes, and it’s important not to let that get in the way of a central insight about donor engagement and social media, which is that social media demands a holistic relationship to people that feel an affinity to your organization. Social media gives people a range of options to be a part of your cause, and if you treat those options as natural and positive—not just stepping stones to donations or planned giving—you’ll do better in the long run. Savvy vendors like  SmartGiftMaker® have already recognized the potential tie-ins between social media and planned giving and offer products such as a dashboard showing the engagement of your planned giving prospect lists that will help you determine your most strongly engaged prospects and establish your strategy and approach on an individual basis. And Phyllis Freedman, the Planned Giving Blogger, blogged just this past week about a donor emailing one of her clients to let them know he was taking a competitor out of his will and putting her organization in it. The reason: “I have never heard from them and I always hear from you.” Social media can assist with these touch points.

Social media will only get more important to planned giving

Every day more people move into the stage of life where they’re good prospects for planned giving, and social media is a cost-effective way to help ensure that your organization will not be the one dinged for stingy communication. Using social media also provides an opportunity for planned giving officers to partner and tap into the social media capacity of other parts of your organization. Given the high level of engagement in social media of people 25-34, they’re likely to stay engaged in YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you get in front of your planned giving program’s engagement with social media now, you’ll only see more results in the future. Does your organization have a planned giving program? Are you thinking about using your social media and online video to help? Tell us about it in the comments by March 31, and we’ll enter you in a special drawing to improve your YouTube channel for free with an evaluation and one free hour of consulting to implement improvements. If MiniMatters can help you with fundraising video, association video, or other video production needs, we’d love to provide an estimate through our online form, talk with you at 301-339-0339, or communicate via email at [email protected]. We serve associations, foundations, nonprofits, and businesses primarily in Washington, DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia.