Pity the trees that died in the pursuit of lackluster results.------
I remember the first time I encountered a "planned giving" newsletter. A college in Minnesota sent me theirs for a critique.
Which I did with cackling glee.
As a communications attempt, the poor thing was a wreck. The writing was technical and trite; the prose of an accountant's final exam. The headlines were a tragedy, they were so inept. And it was glaringly over-designed, a common feature of publications with nothing to say.
It was created, for a fee, by a communications firm that has hundreds of similar nonprofit clients. In exchange for the fee, you get a professional-looking "planned giving marketing communications" program that requires relatively little work on your end.
The same basic material appears in all these canned newsletters: descriptions about planned giving products (charitable remainder unitrusts, say) mixed in with the client's photos (and logo) and probably a donor story, for human interest and to provide a role model.
But there's a fundamental problem, I think.
These "newsletters" aren't really newsletters at all. They are an item dreaded and despised by a majority of donors: a naked attempt to sell.
You or your vendor can call it a newsletter from now till the end of time. But it is ... in actuality ... technically speaking ... an unwelcomed sales brochure.
Free bonus material!
In 2008 Stelter released a research report called, "Discovering the Secret Giver: Groundbreaking Research on the Behavior of Bequest Givers in America."
It certainly was groundbreaking research when the FLA Group up in Canada released essentially the same findings back in 2007, in a terrific book called (misleadingly) Iceberg Philanthropy .
The FLA book, written in part by the delightful and deeply experienced Fraser Green, is NOT about fundraising above the Arctic Circle, despite the title. It's actually a wide-ranging look at the potential of the charitable bequest market and how to effectively penetrate it. It's the very best book I know on the topic.
Effective bequest marketing is the easiest work you'll ever do: no planned giving newsletter required!
Get your free copy of the Stelter report .
Check out Tom Ahern at www.aherncomm.com