Nonprofit Research Collaborative Tracks Upward Trend in Bequests

Development and growth concept. Businessman plan growth and increase of positive indicators in his business.

The most recent Nonprofit Research Collaborative report suggests overall health and a largely positive outlook for planned giving activities and income. The report of fundraising results through the end of 2015 also looks back through data collected since 2005. In 2015, 58% of 760 responding organizations reported increased planned gift receipts, the highest in the decade of trends being surveyed. From 2014 to 2015, 45% of organizations report that planned giving receipts increased when overall charitable receipts increased. By contrast among organizations that had a decline in total receipts, just 35% saw increases in planned giving receipts.

The report also gave insight into planned gift trends that emerged during the recent recession. Realized planned gifts declined during recession years, roughly 2008 to 2011. During that time, the NRC finds that approximately half of the responding nonprofits disclosed receiving the same amount in realized planned gifts as the year before. In 2012, planned gift receipts began to increase, and that trend has continued to the present day. New planned gift commitments have also been trending upwards since 2012, and 59% of all responding groups reported increased commitments by the end of 2015.

Unique to this report is a special section detailing bequests to different types of organizations. More than 2/3 of organizations report raising money through bequests, but larger organizations are more likely to receive them. Specifically, organizations with $10 million or more were significantly more likely to report bequest income than their smaller counterparts. The report also highlights educational institutions as the most likely recipients of these gifts—78% received a bequest whereas only about one-third of other educational institutions did. In most other subsectors, between half to two-third of organization report receiving bequest income.

The relative size of bequests received across all groups ranged from roughly one thousand to greater than one million, but a full third of respondents report average sizes of gifts between $25,000 and $100,000. Among all organizations reporting total bequest receipts, the largest individual category (25%) received more than one million. Of those organizations with more than $10 million in total expenditures, a full 62% received bequests totaling greater than one million. The Partnership for Philanthropic Planning finds that many organizations base projections of future bequest receipts on the average number and value of bequests received in a year, perhaps averaging over several years. Bequests and other planned gifts are predicted to be increasingly important as members of the Boomer generation (born 1946 to 1964) begin to determine their legacies.

PPP is a partner in the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, and we take advantage of every opportunity to include questions about planned gift fundraising in the bi-annual NRC surveys. A new survey will open soon, and we encourage PPP members to take a few minutes to respond when they receive the invitation.

Looking for more resources?

NCPP 2015 Speaker Paper Download CTA

The Results Are In: A New Name for PPP


Over the past several months we have been talking a lot about shifting the strategic direction of the organization and addressing a rebrand, a new website and even a new name to support those changes now underway.

In April, the Board of Directors reviewed member and council leader feedback and selected a new name for the organization to present to our councils for approval. During the month of May, we held an online election asking the councils to vote to approve the new name.

That election is now closed and the votes have been tallied.

I am pleased to announce over 90% of all councils voted in the election and the vote was over 90% (90 -7) in favor of adopting the new name.

With this overwhelming majority, the organization’s name will soon be formally changed to the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners.

Since the name change is a product of our strategic work to better serve our members, the name will not take effect immediately. We will introduce the new name and brand when our website is launched this fall. That is when the visual elements will come together with our new approach to member services, access to resources and a new community all housed online within the new website.

Our staff is working hard with our business partners to make this transition as smooth as possible for both our members and our councils. We will continue to provide updates as our work progresses.

I look forward to sharing with you our improved organization in the coming months.

Michael Kenyon
President & CEO

Rebrand Subscribe CTA

Interprofessional Teamwork: Core Competencies for Planned Giving

AdobeStock_95015104 (1).jpeg

Improve Your IQ (Interprofessional Quotient)—Be A Team Planner

In a series of posts, we’re considering “Core Competencies for Collaborative Interprofessional Practice” for philanthropic planning. The interprofessional competencies we suggest originated in the healthcare field, as an attempt to transform education and prepare students in all the healthcare specialties for “deliberatively working together with the common goal of building a safer and better patient-centered and community/population oriented U.S. health care system.” As noted in the first post of this series, a paradigm shift toward interprofessionality also sounds like a good move for philanthropic planning. The fourth of four core competencies for interprofessional practice deals with teamwork.

The National Association of Estate Planners and Councils recently issued a white paper on “High  Performance Teaming & Professional Collaboration.” It serves as a call to action to encourage the estate planning community to incorporate collaboration more deliberately into their everyday practice. The white paper affirms many of the following core competencies, and provides a great place to start experiments with interprofessional teaming.

Specific Team and Teamwork Competencies:

  • Develop consensus on the ethical principles to guide all aspects of donor/client service and team work.
  • Engage other professionals—appropriate to the specific situation—in shared donor/client-centered problem-solving.
  • Integrate the knowledge and experience of other professions—appropriate to the specific situation—to inform planning decisions, while respecting the values and priorities/ preferences for of the donor/client and other professionals on the team.
  • Apply leadership practices that support collaborative practice and team effectiveness.
  • Engage self and others to constructively manage disagreements about values, roles, goals, and actions that arise among advisors and with donor/clients and families.
  • Share accountability with other professions for planning outcomes.
  • Reflect on individual and team performance for individual, as well as team, performance improvement.
  • Use process improvement strategies to increase the effectiveness of interprofessional teamwork and team-based planning.
  • Use available evidence to inform effective teamwork and team-based practices.
  • Perform effectively on teams and in different team roles in a variety of settings.

Other resources on interprofessional teamwork:

Inspired Planning for Optimal Outcomes: The Fitzsimmons Case,” Phil Cubeta and Tracy Gary (National Conference on Philanthropic Planning 2009)

Case Study: Three Generations of Hurleys,” Phil Cubeta (National Conference on Philanthropic Planning 2014)

Looking for even more resources?

NCPP 2015 Speaker Paper Download CTA.png

The Journey to a New Brand

Rebranding an organization doesn’t always have to be so serious, it can be fun and exciting, too. At least, that is how I’ve looked at the process thus far.” Sarah Rosenberger, PR & Marketing Manager


While posting about the #PPPrebrand on social media over the past few weeks, I started to reflect on what a journey this has been so far. I can tell you that with each stop along the way, the PPP staff and our agency partner, SmallBox, have become more and more invested in making PPP a better organization. And, we’re not even done yet.

Needless to say, a lot of work goes into a complete rebrand and name change, so I wanted to share a little peek inside our journey to date…

Stop One- Kick Off
It all starts with research, right? For the better part of a year, PPP has been working through a lot of member data, an important starting point for any rebrand. (If you missed the recap of our research finding and what we heard from members, click here to read the update from CEO, Michael Kenyon).

While the research process is never glamorous (in fact, it can be a bit scary if you read the update from our Membership Director, Mollie Toland), it was important for us to listen to what members were saying so we could use that feedback to drive the rebrand and ignite creativity in the sessions to come… like our first planning session where we took PPP through a sort of “identity check-up.”


Stop Two: Creative Brainstorming
From day one, we knew we had our work cut out for us as we started collaborating more with our members and with our branding team at SmallBox.

A few of the early, creative brainstorming sessions included a focus on visual enhancements for the brand, but more importantly, what the member experience would evolve to at PPP with some member mapping (and a whole lot of sticky notes).


large (1).jpg

Stop Three: Communication Planning

A crucial part of our rebrand strategy was to include members along the way, so they could see what was happening at each stop and provide continuous feedback. They are the focus of the organization’s exciting future and are very much driving the change.

Comm image.png

Stop 4: Mid-Rebrand PPP Party

What’s a lot of hard work without a little celebration? Fortunate for us, we were able to take a mid-rebrand re-group to celebrate the future of PPP and what had transpired to date. SmallBox so graciously brought a “pink” themed party to our Downtown Indianapolis Headquarters in honor of our (soon to change) brand colors. Goodbye, pink!

 pink party.png


Stop 5: Website Planning & More Research

Back to work, the journey continued with what I was most excited about and knew to be one of the biggest enhancements for the brand… the new tools and resources! We started focusing in on the new website and member community which involved more member research and a little crafting time on our part.


What’s next?  We’re inching closer to bringing it all together. The new brand, a potential new name, and a new member experience overall.

For now, I’ll continue tweeting and facebooking about the #PPPrebrand process and our journey to a better organization for all professionals in the gift planning community. The future is bright for PPP!

Sarah Rosenberger
PR & Marketing Manager

Rebrand Subscribe CTA









Personalized Philanthropy Across the Disciplines: Planning for High Capacity Clients and Donors

Personalized Philanthropy CTA image.jpg

The National Conference on Philanthropic Planning is a meeting place for all the advisors who sit around the planning table. Steve Meyers, Phil Cubeta and Tim Belber got together to present an approach to blended giving that makes sense to donors and their estate and financial planners and creates immediate impact for the organization receiving the gift.

The entire point of endowment and other approaches for building legacies is to create a stream of annual revenues to sustain a program. It’s sometimes possible to obtain the corpus initially, but it may be much easier to provide that stream of annual gifts needed to maintain the program. In fact, you may already be receiving the funds, though in a less decisive or intentional way.

With a simple approach—focusing on the stream of annual gifts first—many programs can be established that would otherwise never see the light of day. For example, a traditional endowment of $100,000 produces $5,000 of spending, with a 5% spending rate. Many more donors can give $5,000 per year than $100,000 as a lump sum. Thus, even modest annual gifts (in the context of lifetime and estate giving) can have all the impact and power of major gifts IF they aren’t segregated in the organizational silos of annual, major and planned.

These are the “killer apps”—basic strategies for blending current and planned gifts into programs that please both the donor and the organization.

  1. Virtual Endowment: the donor combines and in effect chains together a series of current gifts of a spending rate amount that will maintain a program with a future gift (a bequest or other balloon payment) to endow the program.
  2. Philanthropic Mortgage: the donor’s annual gift commitment covers an amount greater than that needed for maintenance of the program. The surplus amount is used to gradually build equity in an endowment or a legacy fund until the fund is fully established and able to sustain the program for the future. The donor doesn’t have to wait until her gift is fully paid to enjoy being a benefactor.
  3. Step-up Gifts: The donor establishes a gift at a starting level with an outright gift or, alternatively, current spending rate annual gifts, and then steps it up. Impact can begin now, with assurance you will achieve your greatest goals over time, e.g., growing your support from a master’s scholarship to a doctoral scholarship to a professorial chair.

Read the full paper via the download option below and learn more about how the apps are applied.

Authors: Philip B. Cubeta, Steven L. Meyers, and Timothy J. Belber


[#PPPrebrand] What We’ve Learned From Our Members

“I am eager to share some of our research findings with you, but first I want to assure our members that this rebrand is not just a new name and logo… it’s so much more.”  Mollie Toland- PPP Membership Director

Joining the staff of an organization re-thinking their strategic priorities and overall brand can be scary. However, being the optimist that I am, I decided from day one I would take this opportunity to really understand our members’ needs and use that information to help shape the future of this organization. So when Smallbox, our agency partner, suggested surveying our members seeking their thoughts and feelings on PPP and the rebrand, I thought this is my chance to listen.


I’ll have to admit, I was nervous about what our members were going to say. After all, this rebrand stemmed from their disappointment in a one size fits all organization (read more in our CEO’s blog, here). Well the results, 571 of them to be exact, came in and I was pleasantly surprised by the positive and supportive comments.

I am eager to share these findings with you, but first I want to assure our members that this rebrand is not just a new name and logo… it’s so much more. We are undergoing a complete renovation, centered on member-focused, service-driven improvements that will bring new life to the organization.

Let’s begin…

Why a career in gift planning?
We wanted to know why our members chose a career that incorporates charitable giving so we could get a better idea of what motivates them. The responses are visualized in a word cloud below.


When we read through the responses a few themes appeared:

  • PASSION- Passion for philanthropy and a desire to help people was a key motivator in choosing planned giving as a career focus.
  • PROGRESSION- For many, getting into planned giving was the step to advance their career. This was often described as an evolution or progression.
  • FIT- Many people mentioned liking the challenge of planned giving, and appreciating the balance between technical and people skills. People often referred to planned giving as a “fit.”
  • CAREER- Planned giving was often part of a career change or enhancement, especially for people in law or accounting wishing to apply their skills to make a difference.
  • ACCIDENT- Many people got into planned giving by accident. Some seemed neutral, but many referred to it as a happy accident. In some cases people mentioned being asked to get involved by a mentor or someone within their organization.
  • PARTIAL FOCUS- Many mentioned planned giving is only part of what they do. The PPP member spent 61.9% of their work week on gift planning.

Why join PPP?
I think some of the most crucial information for us to understand is why our members originally joined this organization and what their experience has meant to them. These points are visualized in the next two images.


This graph illustrates the areas where PPP shines. However, as I mentioned already, this rebrand includes member-focused, service-driven improvements. Education, networking, and resources are also the areas we will be enhancing so members have access to these opportunities at their fingertips.


It’s encouraging to see these words come to the top when members reflect on their experience with our organization. Providing members with an environment where they feel connected and informed is at the forefront of our new strategic focus.  

What’s in a name?
When we asked our members what was most important for the organization’s new name to accomplish, the overwhelming response was to clearly communicate what the organization does. We understand, for many, the current name isn’t clear or easily associated with the activities of the organization. Members also asked for the new name to be easy to say and share.

This organization exists for our members, so our survey wouldn’t be complete without asking what language they would like to see in a new name. The responses are visualized in a word cloud below.


Many of the obvious terms stand out here: planned, gift, legacy, and charitable. We are pleased to see this aligning with the other research Smallbox has conducted and the response from what members are looking for in a name.

This information is invaluable for the future of our organization. It shows me our members are committed and want to see the organization thrive. I know I speak for our entire staff when I say we are excited to give you the tools to do your job better. Stay tuned!

Author: Mollie Toland
Director of Membership, PPP


Rebrand Subscribe CTA

Forever Change the Way You Plan Trips: Mapping Donor Data



Mapping tools are a great way to import donor information from your donor databases and leverage those data points when designing a travel route and communicating with several prospects. If you’re on the hunt for mapping software to track donor visits and plan efficient travel, you’ll find recommendations made by charitable gift planning professionals in a PPP discussion forum. In a recent thread on the topic, several professionals shared their favorites and told how these tools help streamline what can otherwise be a scattered process. The products mentioned include:

For detailed advice on navigating donor visits, read Katherine McKay’s paper, Forever Change the Way You Plan Trips: Mapping Donor Data, from the 2012 National Conference on Philanthropic Planning (featured below).

In it, Katherine explores “VisitMapping,” a process for developing a sophisticated understanding of donor territory that is compatible with several mapping software platforms. Her goal, and the goal of many of the tools available, is to save time and make the most of each trip.

Fundraisers always want to be assured that they are connecting with the right people at the right time. Success depends on the ability to manage and access pertinent donor information, prioritize calls and visits, and navigate sizable geographic spaces. With so many layered decisions to make, it’s great to learn from the experience of PPP colleagues!

What tools are you using to map donor visits? Share your recommendations in the comments.

Tools CTA.jpg

A New Brand for PPP… And, It All Started With You

It’s true, PPP is undergoing a complete renovation, centered on member-focused, service-driven improvements that will bring new life to the organization… and it all started with our members
Stay in the loop by subscribing to our rebrand updates>>


To begin,  I feel every organization should regularly evaluate the effectiveness of its strategic focus, services and delivery systems. So, for more than a year, the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP) has been hard at work evaluating those aspects of the organization and are excited to be setting forth on a path of change to better address member needs and the changing environment of charitable gift planning.

The PPP Board has been hard at work, too, interviewing council leaders, talking with members, all as part of a critical needs assessment survey with over 10,000 members and non-members executed by Association Laboratories. To interpret the results of this work, a national task force was convened to present a set of recommendations to the board of directors.

Here’s what we heard:
In the course of these activities, members defined (as top priorities) a need and desire for our organization to:

  • Provide a strong professional community for networking and professional growth
  • Education opportunities that address both technical and non-technical skills
  • Learning opportunities for members at various stages of their careers
  • Advocacy and government relations
  • Continue its role in setting standards and defining best practices


Click to see highlights from PPP’s member research study

This critical information has shaped our newly adopted Ends Policies which, of course, set the strategic direction and focus of the organization…

View the New Ends Policies>>

Beyond program offerings, we also heard that our organization is well respected and the leader in charitable gift planning. However, the PPP brand is not clear or easily associated with the activities of the organization. In fact, over two thirds of the councils nationwide have chosen not to incorporate the national brand in either their name or logo.

Here’s what we learned from all this:
Perhaps, the most important realization from this research is that our diverse membership is not satisfied with a one size fits all organization. Different groups of members have different needs and these also evolve over time. If we are to be relevant in both our education offerings and development of community, we need to have the platform to deliver services through multiple avenues and allow for subsets of the membership to create and participate in a supportive environment.

We also learned that we must be more intentional in creating a culture of inclusiveness for all members. As the field of charitable gift planning continues to evolve, so must our culture or we risk being perceived as a closed organization, alienating the next generation of charitable gift planners whose experiences will likely be significantly different than those they follow.

Over 90% of national members also belong to a local council. The combination of local offerings and community networking in tandem with the networking and resources available from national provide a distinct and powerful membership. Our members expect councils and national to work together to optimize benefits and services in creating a highly valued membership experience.

So, here’s what we’ll do:
The board of directors and staff are dedicated to building on our member research to develop those services and benefits that members have indicated are most important. Critical to providing these services is a technology platform that can be effective now and into the future.

With SmallBox as our partner, we are developing an entirely new website that will be launched this year under our new brand and with a focus on providing the many resources of our organization through an efficient navigation system.

The website will house a richly featured community to allow our members opportunities to easily connect and network with individuals of similar interests and shared experiences. Following the website launch, we’ll prioritize the continued development in the area of educational experiences that can be delivered through online learning methods to match the needs of our members.

We will also continue our support of the council network with an expansion of our speakers’ bureau, continued work on programming, and provide administrative support through our tiered council categories.

We are proud of our efforts to get the Charitable IRA Rollover made permanent this past year and also know many challenges are ahead. Advocacy will continue to be a high priority with expanded updates and activities planned for the year.

A name change for PPP?

As our partners at SmallBox began their discovery phase for a brand to match our new energy and strategic direction, feedback from member interviews indicated that our name should also be evaluated for a potential change. Early discussions with our council leaders also indicated a strong majority in support of a name change leading us to provide a survey to allow for all members to have input in the process.

We will continue to share with you information on our progress and ask for your involvement to assist us in making your organization not only valuable for professional development but also your professional community.

And, perhaps most importantly, we will continue to listen.

Michael Kenyon
President & CEO

Rebrand Subscribe CTA

All You Really Need for Planned Giving You Learned in Kindergarten


A Session Highlight from the National Conference on Philanthropic Planning, NCPP

The National Conference on Philanthropic Planning usually appeals to the most experienced gift planners, but Meryl Cosentino, took attendees back to kindergarten in her breakout  session, which came complete with milk and cookies, but without naps. Her tips are great reminders for planners at every experience level.

Keep it simple! For example, when speaking with donors and prospects, focus on only three meaningful traits of your organization. Your message will be more memorable and easier for your donors to share with others. Simplicity is valuable at all stages of gift solicitation, including the process of thanking a donor for their contribution. Just as your grandparents and other relatives appreciated your thank you calls and reveled in stories about your success, so your donors appreciate your calls and letters of thanks and want to hear about how the charities that they love and support are thriving.

Make playdates! Get together with donors who have made gifts in consecutive years, regardless of the dollar amount of those gifts. These donors are great planned giving prospects, because they are loyal to your charity. However, giving need not be in the most recent 10-15 years – lapsed donors are often great planned giving prospects. Younger charities should just look for multiple gifts, there is no need for them to be consecutive.

Just like Goldilocks, look for the prospect pool that is just right. Start with the top 50, then narrow to 25 prospects who are most likely to make a gift in the next 6-12 months. The focus should not be just on wealth, but also on the stage of cultivation that they are currently in. Once you have your top prospects, flush the rest . . . at least for now. But make sure that they still receive marketing pieces and surveys. These contacts may be what motivate your future top 25 to identify themselves.

Share, smile, play fair, be polite, flush…if it worked for you in kindergarten, it will work for you today. Read Meryl’s paper to make sure you are applying everything you’ve learned.

Meryl Cosentino
Senior Director of Gift Planning at Stony Brook University

REAL Kindergarten CTA.jpg

BEQUESTS: Where to Find Them and How to Get Them


Session Highlights-National Conference on Philanthropic Planning, (NCPP2015)

At the National Conference on Philanthropic Planning, Jeff Lydenberg reviewed key research and tips to help gift planners take advantage of the ‘under-appreciated bequest.’ This is foundational advice since bequests are the largest source of planned giving revenue for charities both large and small.

Where should we start looking for bequest donors? Jeff offered several pathways suggested by Russell James’s influential analysis of the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study. First, the bequest donor must have trust in the organization that will benefit from the bequest. Second, the absence of heirs may be the single most important variable to help identify the bequest donor, followed very closely by educational attainment. Third, the greater a prospect’s net worth, the more likely he or she is to leave a charitable bequest. Jeff also advised that if a frequent giver also makes larger than average gifts, usually annually, the likelihood of a planned gift goes up.

When bequest prospects have been identified, what’s the best way to propose the gift? Planned gifts are frequently linked to events in a donor’s life, but prospects need information and encouragement to make that connection at the right moment. Bequest marketing messages should convey why someone should include your organization in their estate plans—prospects increasingly expect content that will help them learn more about your work and show them why their support makes a difference.  You should also clearly communicate that your charity is interested in and capable of accepting estate gifts, and make it easy for a prospect to get the information they need to add your charity to their estate plans. Be sure everyone working or volunteering for your organization who comes in contact with potential bequest donors is prepared to deliver this information or tell prospects where to find it.

For the complete outlook for finding prospects and soliciting bequests, you can read Jeff Lydenberg’s conference paper here.



– Jeff Lydenberg
Vice President at PG Calc Incorporated

BEQUESTS 2016 Offering CTA Template