Dec 2018 AFR: 3.6%
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The Planned Giving Blog

Authored by Kristen Schultz Jaarda, Executive Vice President of Crescendo Interactive, our blog discusses a wide variety of planned giving topics including marketing strategies, tax and legal developments, gift planning success stories, best practices and more.

Kristen specializes in charitable tax planning and online marketing for planned gifts. She is responsible for client education and consultation for Crescendo's web, email and software services. She is a member of the ACGA board of directors, the Planned Giving Today editorial advisory board and serves with a number of other charitable organizations.

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How Large are Bequests and What is the Potential for Your Organization?

How Large are Bequests and What is the Potential for Your Organization?

Is your organization actively marketing charitable bequests?  Do you have a strategy in place for securing bequest acknowledgements? What is the potential future revenue stream for realized bequests?The Baby Boomers are retiring in record numbers and the intergenerational wealth transfer is...

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Good News for Charitable Bequests!

Good News for Charitable Bequests!

With the release of Giving USA 2018, there is good news for bequests.  Giving by bequest is estimated to have increased by 2.3% over the past year, with bequests representing 9% of total contributions.  Overall, giving from individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations to U.S....

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How to Combat Donor Loss

How to Combat Donor Loss

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently featured an article on the problem of charities losing donors.  There are many reasons why donors leave or stop giving including economic, demographic, personal, financial and tax reasons.  Many in the fundraising community are waiting to see how the...

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Should Your Charity Adopt the New ACGA Rates Early?

Should Your Charity Adopt the New ACGA Rates Early?

A number of clients have asked Crescendo about the advisability of adopting the new American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) suggested rate schedule early.  Under the new rate schedule, effective July 1, 2018, gift annuity rates are 0.30% to .0.50% higher for those ages where most annuity...

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What is GDPR and Why It Matters to Your Fundraising

What is GDPR and Why It Matters to Your Fundraising

The General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) is a new privacy standard in the European Union (EU). GDPR guarantees certain privacy rights to individuals who reside in the EU, which GDPR classifies as "data subjects."GDPR guarantees certain privacy rights for data subjects. For example, data...

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ACGA Releases New Suggested Maximum Rate Schedules Effective July 1, 2018

ACGA Releases New Suggested Maximum Rate Schedules Effective July 1, 2018

In case you missed it, the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) Board of Directors just released rate schedules which will take effect on July 1. The Board approved an increase in the suggested maximum payout rates for charitable gift annuities. The rates will be rising by 0.30% to 0.50% for...

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A Recipe for Success from the 2017 Survey of Charitable Gift Annuities

A Recipe for Success from the 2017 Survey of Charitable Gift Annuities

The American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) recently released the 2017 Survey of Charitable Gift Annuities.  Based on a new analysis conducted by Dr. Russell James, we now know the factors for a successful gift annuity program.  These factors should be enlightening to you if you are...

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Gift Annuity Rates Going Up

Gift Annuity Rates Going Up

The American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) has increased its suggested maximum payout rates for charitable gift annuities. The rates will be rising by 0.30% to 0.50% for those ages where most annuity contracts are done. The ACGA will be publishing the final rate schedules by May 15th, and the new...

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And the Winner is.... Email

And the Winner is.... Email

What marketing channel determines a nonprofit’s success?  The answer may surprise you.... It’s email.  When we look at our analytics, the organizations that are the most successful at reaching and engaging with new (and existing) donors are the ones making regular contact...

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What Message Should You be Sending to Your Donors with Nontaxable Estates in Light of the Recent Tax Changes?

What Message Should You be Sending to Your Donors with Nontaxable Estates in Light of the Recent Tax Changes?

What do your donors need to hear from you in 2018 in light of the recent tax changes? The last two posts have provided ideas for marketing major and planned gifts to itemizers and non-itemizers.  Even fewer Americans (but still less than 1%) will have taxable estate under the new law. What if...

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What Messages Should You be Sending to Non-Itemizers in Light of the Recent Tax Changes?

What Messages Should You be Sending to Non-Itemizers in Light of the Recent Tax Changes?

What do your donors need to hear from you in 2018 in light of the recent tax changes?  The last post gave you some positive messages that can be communicated to planned and major gift donors who are still expected to itemize their deductions.  What should you be saying to non-itemizers...

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How Should You Market Planned and Major Gifts to Donors Who Itemize in Light of the Recent Tax Changes?

How Should You Market Planned and Major Gifts to Donors Who Itemize in Light of the Recent Tax Changes?

What do your donors need to hear from you right now in light of the recent tax changes?  You should be thinking about positive messages that can be communicated to your donors based on their situation.  Most planned and major gift donors will continue to itemize under the new law. ...

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What Your Donors Need to Hear in 2018 In Light of Recent Tax Changes

What Your Donors Need to Hear in 2018 In Light of Recent Tax Changes

What should your marketing look like given the latest changes in tax law? What should you focus on in 2018? The goal of this new series of posts is to explain the recent tax changes, provide key insights into positive marketing messages and share successful examples of messaging that works for...

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Will Planned Giving Donors Still Itemize Under the New Tax Law? YES!

Will Planned Giving Donors Still Itemize Under the New Tax Law? YES!

If you are a planned gifts fundraiser, or hope to capture planned gifts for your organization, you have no doubt heard concerns about the impact the new tax law will have on charitable giving.  The new tax law doubles the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married...

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Crescendo Responds to Questions About the New Tax Law

Crescendo Responds to Questions About the New Tax Law

We have received many calls and emails asking for our opinion about the implications of the new tax law and its impact on charities, their donors and charitable giving.First, let me say that I, along with the rest of the staff at Crescendo, remain encouraged about the future of fundraising for...

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How to Improve Your Target Marketing and Reach the Best Prospects for Major and Planned Gifts

How to Improve Your Target Marketing and Reach the Best Prospects for Major and Planned Gifts

If you are targeting your donor marketing to a particular audience, such as those most likely to make planned gifts, there are a few takeaways you might find helpful from Crescendo's recent planned and major gifts marketing study.One takeaway is that the use of fonts and font size can really...

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Want to Increase Donor Engagement? Segment and Target Your Marketing

Want to Increase Donor Engagement? Segment and Target Your Marketing

Each donor’s needs and desires can vary widely depending on demographics, their available financial resources, their concerns and their goals. One way to show your donors that you understand them is to segment your donor list and engage in target marketing based on the characteristics that...

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Words You Don't Need to Use in Your Marketing to Get Results

Words You Don't Need to Use in Your Marketing to Get Results

This is another post addressing language that works to generate results for planned and major gifts as shared in Crescendo’s latest communications study How to Attract Donors and Increase Response to Your Marketing.The previous post looked at word variations that worked to promote...

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It's Okay to Use

It's Okay to Use "Bequest" in Your Planned Gifts Marketing

Words matter. What words do you use when marketing testamentary gifts? Do you use the word “bequest”? Is your marketing direct? Do you make “the ask”? In his groundbreaking studies, Texas Tech University Professor Russell James III shares key insights into the words that...

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 How to Create Visually Appealing Emails that Get Your Donors to Respond

How to Create Visually Appealing Emails that Get Your Donors to Respond

What is the impact of visual appeal on your donor communications?  What if you have two great design ideas?  Don’t be afraid to test your marketing ideas, especially design ideas, to see what generates the best response.This post covers another test on the impact of visual appeal...

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Improving the Visual Appeal of Your Donor Communications Can Increase Your Responses.  Want to Know How?

Improving the Visual Appeal of Your Donor Communications Can Increase Your Responses. Want to Know How?

Does your marketing look good?  How does aesthetics impact the responses to donor communications?  As part of Crescendo’s newly released study, How to Attract Donors & Increase Response to Your Marketing, we performed a series of tests to assess the importance of visual appeal in...

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The Visual Appeal of Your Donor Communications Matters

The Visual Appeal of Your Donor Communications Matters

This is the third post on testing planned and major gifts fundraising offers to increase donor response. The example discussed in this post was featured in Crescendo's recently released 2017 major and planned gifts communications study — How to Attract Donors & Increase Response to Your...

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Single-Offer Emails Get the Best Results: More Insights from Crescendo's 2017 Communications Study

Single-Offer Emails Get the Best Results: More Insights from Crescendo's 2017 Communications Study

This is the second post on testing planned and major gifts fundraising offers to increase donor response.  The example discussed in this post was featured in Crescendo's recently released 2017 major and planned gifts communications study — How to Attract Donors & Increase Response to...

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Specific Offers Get Results:  What Kind of Images Should I Use to Get Results?

Specific Offers Get Results: What Kind of Images Should I Use to Get Results?

Crescendo recently released its 2017 Major and Planned Gifts Communications Study, How to Attract Donors & Increase Response to Your Marketing.  As with the 2016 study, we used A/B testing to compare donor responses to major and planned gifts marketing emails.  In the coming weeks...

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GiftLegacy Awards Announced at PPGC!

GiftLegacy Awards Announced at PPGC!

Crescendo celebrated its annual Practical Planned Giving Conference on September 25th and 26th in San Diego. It was Crescendo’s largest user conference attended by friends from all across the nation. They gathered to hear keynote speakers Paul Schervish and Jackie Franey and an excellent...

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What is a Virtual Endowment?  How Does it Work?

What is a Virtual Endowment? How Does it Work?

More charities are marketing virtual endowments as a way for their donors to make annual gifts today and continue their commitment to the organization through a planned gift funded when they pass away.  The discussion of virtual endowments fits nicely with my recent posts on blended...

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Get Started with Your End of Year Gifts Marketing Today

Get Started with Your End of Year Gifts Marketing Today

The end of the year is approaching quickly.  Now is the time to get started with your end of year marketing plans for major and planned gifts.What should be your message as the year draws to a close?  Many of your donors will be looking for ways to support your cause while lowering their...

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How to be Donor-Centered in Your Planned and Major Gifts Marketing

How to be Donor-Centered in Your Planned and Major Gifts Marketing

Donor-centered fundraising is a movement that has captured the attention of planned and major gifts fundraisers. Focusing on the donor, his or her desires and needs makes sense.  But what does it really mean to take a donor-centered approach to your organization's...

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Ideas for Managing Your Donor List and Planned Giving Prospects

Ideas for Managing Your Donor List and Planned Giving Prospects

Your donor list is one of the most important assets of your organization.  Yet, far too many fundraisers tell me that their lists are outdated.  Failure to maintain good records and update your donor list makes it impossible for you to reach existing and prospective donors. ...

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SEO 101 for Planned Gifts:  Understanding and Improving Your Placement with Internet Searches

SEO 101 for Planned Gifts: Understanding and Improving Your Placement with Internet Searches

Clients will sometimes ask Crescendo how to optimize search engine results. Every charity would like for its planned giving website to appear on the first page or top spot following an Internet search on Google, Yahoo or Bing.There are several things that you can do to improve your placement with...

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