Planned giving represents a tremendous opportunity for certain donors to leave a legacy and make a greater difference than they could during their lifetime. Major gift professionals are in the unique position of being able to connect donors who are already committed to the organization with this opportunity.

Yet the subject of planned giving can be intimidating to many major gift professionals—and no wonder. Planned giving involves technical instruments like Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts, Pooled Income Funds, and more. Then there are complicated papers to draw up, and lawyers and financial planners to deal with.

But the truth is, the major gift professional doesn’t need to be a planned giving expert. You can provide more value to your donors, increase your value to your institution, and help raise more funds to do real good in the world if you know these three key points:

1. Your Role

The major gift professional’s role is to recognize when a donor might be a good candidate for planned giving, help the donor recognize the opportunity to achieve meaningful philanthropy through planned giving, and then bring a planned giving expert into the conversation to provide the requisite expertise.

2. How to make the match

There are numerous factors that can help determine whether a donor might be good candidate for planned giving—for example, life stage, life changes, and family commitments. Fortunately for major gift professionals, one of the primary determinants is a history of significant giving and/or volunteering.

3. How donors benefit

You do not need to know the ins and outs of all the available planned giving instruments. What you do need to know—and share with donors—is that, whatever a donor’s specific situation, there is a planned giving instrument that will allow the donor to achieve both his or her financial and philanthropic goals.

Once the connection to a planned giving expert at your organization is made, it’s important for the major gift professional to remain part of the conversation. After all, you are your donor’s trusted philanthropic advisor, helping them to achieve meaningful philanthropy at your organization over their lifetime.


If you are interested in learning beyond the basics of planned giving instruments, ask us about our workshop Creating Connections for Planned Giving to explore concepts, strategies, and tools for identifying and initiating planned giving opportunities with major donors.

Contact us to learn more about Creating Connections for Planned Giving.