Sometimes I get to collaborate with some great people, but too infrequently. One of those is Tony Martignetti, speaking on his radio show 3 times, most recently 2 years ago when my LinkedIn book for nonprofit professionals hit the shelves. He contacted me recently to help publicize Planned Giving Accelerator, his newest innovation for nonprofits, so I invited him to tell you his perspective about the new endeavor. Please encourage your favorite nonprofits to speak and learn about planned giving from Tony. Speaking to him is always a treat. Now Tony has the floor:

When we think about practical uses for LinkedIn, stewarding donors who might make a gift to your nonprofit in their wills likely isn’t at the top of many peoples’ lists.

But it’s on mine.

For over 20 years, I’ve been helping nonprofits build Planned Giving programs, which encourage donors to consider donating a portion of their estates through their wills.

What I’ve found is that the most effective Planned Giving efforts center around sustained multi-channel marketing. And one of the most unsung channels is LinkedIn.

But before we dive into why LinkedIn, specifically, is a great tool for Planned Giving fundraisers, let’s pan out a bit and talk about what Planned Giving is – and why it’s often overlooked.

Most financially successful nonprofits aren’t funded exclusively through annual giving programs or grants.

They also have a secret weapon: Planned Giving.

These savvy nonprofits have learned that they can achieve long-term financial strength through planned gifts — primarily bequests left in the wills of donors who believe strongly in their work.

If you manage a small- or mid-size nonprofit, just one planned gift can change your financial trajectory. Even better, if you devote sufficient time and energy to building and marketing a Planned Giving program, you’ll accrue multiple gifts that can help support your mission and values for decades and generations to come.

That’s because the average charitable bequest is around $35,000 — and often runs much higher.

I’ve worked with nonprofits that have received commitments in the millions. But 5- and 6-figure bequests are quite common.

Unfortunately, many nonprofits hold Planned Giving at arm’s length because of its perceived complexity.

Sure, there are a number of different Planned Giving vehicles, some of which appear to require an advanced law degree to decipher. But starting your Planned Giving program isn’t difficult and doesn’t require expertise.

I strongly advise nonprofits who are new to Planned Giving to start simply. Rather than trying to market hard-to-understand methods like charitable lead unitrusts (you don’t want to know!), encourage your donors to make a simple bequest.

Most of your donors won’t think to include your organization in their wills unless you ask them.

So ask.

And use a variety of mediums — your website, direct mail, email, social media, and multimedia — to market your program.

That’s where LinkedIn comes in.

You’ll definitely want to include messaging on your website and in direct-mail and email campaigns. But if you’re doing those things only – and not leveraging LinkedIn — you’re likely missing out.

I strongly encourage fundraisers to cross-post their articles about the value of Planned Giving through LinkedIn – and to make sure that there are posts about your Planned Giving program on your nonprofit’s LinkedIn page.

LinkedIn can also serve as a great network for acknowledging those who have made Planned Giving pledges (provided, of course, they want public acknowledgement).

Like most things LinkedIn, the key is to be genuine and positive – and to honor connections and supporters who are making the ultimate giving decision.


Tony Martignetti is the evangelist for Planned Giving. He’s been starting and growing Planned Giving programs since 1997. A former attorney, he’s now launched Planned Giving Accelerator, a membership community to create 1,000+ new Planned Giving programs in the U.S. It’s at PlannedGivingAccelerator.com and @PG_Accelerator.

Marc W. Halpert

LinkedIn personal coach, group trainer, marketing strategist and overall evangelist, having a great time pursuing my passion of connecting professionals so they can collaborate better!

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