Some fundraisers have a hard time bringing up planned giving to their donors. They're uncomfortable talking about money, death, or both. But talking about planned giving doesn't have to be focused on money or death--it's about your donor's values and the impact they want to have on the world.
Still, some fundraisers are more comfortable if they have some kind of "reason" to bring up planned giving. Sometimes it really helps to have an angle to transition the conversation. Here are a few I've found helpful.
The launch of a new legacy society.
If you're just getting started with planned giving, don't be shy--tell your donors that! Make them feel like they're getting in on the ground floor. Like you're asking them to be a part of something special because you know that THEY are so special, and they are a very special friend of the organization. In this approach, the donor can be asked to be a leader, a founding member of this new society of the organization's most committed fans. A leader that will serve as an example (anonymous or otherwise) and motivator to others.
A major anniversary.
Is your organization celebrating a milestone? What a great time to invite your devoted fans to commemorate the occasion. Tell your donor about how you've been around for 50 years, and you have important work to do for the next 50 years, and one way they can help is to ensure the organization will stay strong and vibrant into the future by making a bequest.
A challenge grant.
Yes, challenges can work in planned giving, just like they work in other campaigns. If you've got a board member or generous insider in the process of making their own planned gift, ask if they'd be willing to leverage their gift to challenge others (again, anonymous or otherwise). For example, your challenge may be that if 10 new people join the legacy society in the next quarter, your benefactor will match their gifts, up to $X. Or your benefactor will increase their commitment by an extra $X. A challenge grant forces you to set up a goal and a deadline, both things that can help give prospective donors a sense of urgency.
Someone recently did this.
If you've had a big success in planned giving recently, use it! Tell the next donor about this achievement and ask if it's something they'd consider doing as well. Use your example donor to talk about how people come to this decision, what kind of person makes a planned gift, and under what conditions. Talk about the great impact that gift will one day have on your organization. Tell your donor if they have things in common with the recent planned giving donor. For example, "Congratulations on your new grandchild! I just met with a donor last week who has a new grandchild. He is adjusting his will to include the grandchild, and to include The Really Great Foundation, because he not only wants to provide for his grandchild, but he also wants his grandchild to know what his values were when he's gone. He cares about the kind of world his grandchild will live in."