Parks and friends groups must consider how to make people aware of their planned
giving program, which planned giving opportunities to promote and to whom appeals
should be directed. It is unrealistic for friends groups developing a planned giving
program to begin by introducing every available planned giving instrument. Many
groups choose instead to develop their program on a piecemeal basis, starting with basic
instruments -- bequests, retirement plan designations, and life insurance designations.
Irrevocable arrangements such as charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts
can be introduced as the program becomes more established and the organization builds
its capacity to manage its planned giving program. If a friends group is unable to respond
to inquires about the more technical instruments such as a charitable remainder trust, it is
best not to market it as a planned giving option.
A particular giving method might be to market to the entire constituency, while other
methods might be better marketed to a narrow segment of your group's constituency.
Age, family situation (e.g. living spouse, children, grandchildren), prior giving history,
income levels, and involvement with your friends group are some factors to consider
when determining which gift opportunities will be marketed to a particular donor.
A planned giving marketing program should educate and inform your constituency about
giving opportunities that can address their philanthropic and financial objectives.
Communicate with your constituency that planned giving is a means of looking to the
future to address long term goals and objectives. Donors may prefer to direct their
planned gifts for endowment purposes rather than to support current operating expenses
so be prepared to discuss with donors available endowment opportunities.
Planned giving programs can be marketed by:
- Featuring Planned Gifts to the Park on Your Park and Friends Group
Websites - List the category of Planned Gifts. Feature several past and recent
planned gifts to the park with a short profile of the type of gift/planned giving
instrument that was selected, the donor and their motivation, the difference the
gift has/is making in the park. Stick to more universal types of planned gifts and
emphasize the donor's perspective which is most likely to resonate with and
inspire others to consider making a similar planned gift. Definitely list a person
to contact if the reader is interested in making such a gift. The park can feature
this as part of their profile on the difference that philanthropy continues to make
in their park and then direct the reader to their Friends Group by a direct link.
- Including Planned Gifts in In-Park Displays on the Difference Philanthropy
Continues to Make in Your Park - This could be part of an indoor or outdoor
interpretive display. If the display is indoors, ensure that there is takeaway
information on the menu of park giving opportunities and who interested parties
can contact at the park or the park friends group regarding making a donation.
- Providing Donor Options including Planned Gifts Information in Guest
Lodging - Arrangements would need to be worked out with the concessioner or
other guest service providers and a supply of informative and appealing brochures
would need to be supplied to the operator.
- Featuring a Planned Giving Tagline - One way to maximize your reach to
potential donors is to adopt and incorporate a short tagline in your printed and
online communications. The idea is to get people to start considering planned
giving. It should be concise and direct, such as "Have you considered a planned
gift to _______." It should be bolded and placed in a way the reader can't miss it.
It can be incorporated into your correspondence, newsletters, calendars and
- Getting Features on Planned Gifts in Print and Electronic Media - This could
be a feature on the difference that philanthropy, including planned gifts, has made
in your park. Or it could focus on a planned gift that has just been consummated
or realized. This is a good way to recognize a donor and helps put an immediate
focus on the donor and their motivation. It is essential to have the approval and
participation of the donor, their estate executor or heirs if the donor is deceased.
Ideally, such features would be produced on a periodic basis to consistently reach
- Establishing an Initial Response to People Who are Interested in Making a
Planned Gift to Your Park - Planned gifts are likely to be the most meaningful
and deliberate gifts that a person, couple or family make in their lifetime. That
they are thinking about making such a gift to a park merits immediate attention at
an executive level - normally by the park superintendent, and executive director
and board president of the park friends group. Eventually lawyers, CPAs and
estate planning specialist will work out the details in a legal document. But
initially, the fact that the donor is considering making the park (either directly or
through the friends group) a beneficiary of a planned gift is cause for
appreciation, cultivating a relationship and matching up a donor's interest with the
best way to help park needs. It is important to realize that good intentions are
only that until the planned gift is actually negotiated and executed in a written
legal document. You need to reinforce that the donor's instinct about wanting to
benefit the park is the best choice for a meaningful and enduring legacy gift.
- Scheduling Personal Donor Visits - Ensure that once an individual responds to a
mailing, your planned giving officer follows up immediately with a personal call
to the donor to answer questions, provide additional information and schedule a
personal visit. Successful planned giving programs are based on a park or park
partner's ability to build a personal relationship with the donor and identify ways
in which they can become involved. Communication through letters, e-mails, and
telephone calls should be used as a complement to personal donor visits. Planned
giving/development officers should allow time in their schedules to make a
certain number of personal donor visits per month.
Other ways in which friends groups can market planning giving opportunities are noted below.
Planned Giving Recognition Society
Establish a planned giving recognition society to identify individuals who have included
the park or their friends group in their will or estate plan. Make it visible by posting it online
and on the donor wall. Donors that have included the park or their friends group as a
beneficiary in their estate plan may not necessarily notify them of their decision. Creating
a planned giving recognition society and marketing it to your constituency creates a
heightened awareness among individuals that the organization is interested in learning
about their future plans to benefit the organization. It also provides an opportunity to
begin building relationships with those donors and identify ways to involve them in your
friends group's activities. Your group can choose which planning giving option qualifies
an individual for membership in the society. Some organizations qualify all donors
regardless of the dollar amount or if the commitment is revocable.
Brochures marketing the planned giving recognition society should explain the purpose
for starting the society, qualifications for membership, the group's mission, a description
of giving opportunities, and the necessary steps to become a member. Brochures can be
sent to donors, board members, volunteers and financial advisors.
Highlight donors and the various types of planned gifts in print material and on websites,
especially on the park and friends group websites. Recruit donors to share their stories,
(involvement, associations to the park, motivations behind planned giving, and personal
rewards from giving) and commitment. Explain why donors gave. If possible, include
donor pictures and quotes to personalize the story. Some organizations have included
video streams of interviews with donors on their websites. The more you show that
others have done this, the more inviting it is for potential donors.
Those that include Golden Gate National Recreation Area in their estate plans, join the
Silver Lupin Circle. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has developed the Michaux
Society membership program to acknowledge contributors who have included a gift to
the Blue Ridge Parkway in their estate plans while the LeConte Planned Giving Society
honors those who have given to the Yosemite Fund in their estate plans. Members to
these planned giving recognition societies enjoy invitations to annual receptions and
special events, publications by the organization about current activities and projects in
their park, and in the case of the Yosemite Fund, name recognition on the Honor Wall at
the Valley Visitor Center at the time the gift is received.
Will clinics are designed for people interested in setting up their own estate planning and
planned giving instrument. No one likes to think about dying. Consequently, many people
postpone drawing up a will, even when they know it would minimize confusion in settling
their estate. Even though wills can be fairly straightforward legal instruments, people are
often apprehensive about legalese. People rarely understand the range of possibilities for
insuring their estate is properly distributed and/or managed and often don't know where to
turn for help. A wills clinic provides an opportunity for these people to get pointed in the
right direction and referred to proper sources of assistance.
To conduct a clinic, an organization retains an instructor from a local law firm, law school,
bank, or community foundation to provide an overview of the process of establishing a will
and the many options possible. Attendees come away with a better understanding wills and
where to turn for services and potential beneficiary options. The event is scheduled and
publicized as a community service. A fee can be charged to cover expenses. Planned gifts
to parks can be presented as a concept and an option.
A more prestigious event is a seminar on park giving and wills. Quality is the hallmark
here, and a fee may be unnecessary. Invitations should come from a highly respected
individual who is a philanthropist and is willing to speak on behalf of the park's needs. He
or she sets the tone for the seminar in the keynote speech, explaining the giving needs and
opportunities to benefit the park, and his or her own personal commitment. They then
introduce three panelists recruited from the community's leading law firm, bank, and
accounting firm. The top firms will want to do it because it is good business and provides
Each panelist is invited to speak for 20 to 30 minutes about changes related to the laws,
accounting practices, money matters related to wills and what to be aware of. Sponsors can
generally be found to underwrite the cost for the invitations, refreshments, and meeting
Another type of wills clinics can be designed for professionals in your community who deal
with wills, such as, attorneys, bank trust officers, and tax consultants.
Here's how a very successful wills clinic for professionals worked for the St. Petersburg,
Florida, Park and Recreation Department:
The City Park and Recreation Department approached the Chamber of Commerce and the
local Bar Association with a proposal to host a seminar on recent major changes in tax laws
affecting planned giving. The Chamber and Bar Association enthusiastically agreed to cosponsor.
The Small Business Council of the Chamber was so impressed that a public
agency was aggressively seeking outside support that they made a small grant to help
underwrite the seminar. The co-sponsors and other professional organizations in St.
Petersburg provided their membership mailing lists to publicize the event.
The City Parks Director was very candid in welcoming the 110 participants to the seminar,
saying the city's goal in hosting the session was to acquaint them with the benefits of
charitable trusts to benefit parks in St. Petersburg. Participants saw the seminar as an
opportunity to broaden their knowledge and skills at a bargain price. One attorney said, "I
never thought of the city as a potential beneficiary. The scouts and hospitals, yes. But not
The seminar was presented by a nationally-recognized expert in planned giving. His fee
was $5,000 for the 4-hour session. (He was so impressed by the City's efforts that he later
donated his services in incorporating a nonprofit "friends" organization for the city.) A very
low fee was charged participants - including lunch. Some attendees felt more should have
been charged. Professionals in the business world are used to paying $200 - $500 for
similar training opportunities, and many people equate price with quality. As an added
inducement to participants, the co-sponsors arranged 5 hours of continuing education credit
for the attorneys and CPAs who attended.
The park director and his staff each had a goal to establish a working dialogue with at least
ten of the seminar participants, so they would be aware of the park giving opportunities.
These contacts were made, and nurtured over time so the professionals are continuously
reminded of park giving options to suggest to their clients.
The follow-up was the real pay off. Attorneys and accountants have asked the park director
to sit in on a meeting with a client interested in a charitable trust. The director listens very
carefully as the donor explains his or her desires for the trust and follows up on the meeting
with a one-page proposal tailored to the needs of the donor.