Planned giving newsletters and Web sites prominently feature donor stories because gift planning officers know the stories can inspire other potential donors—who may think to themselves, "I could make a gift like that!" The story tells us why the donor chose a particular gift vehicle, and by the end of the story we likely know quite a bit about the donor and his or her thought process.
But do we know anything about YOU? Or your gift planning office? Maybe we should.
As you know, in a significant percentage of gifts the donors work closely with a gift planning officer. Sometimes donors select a gift vehicle they knew very little about before you suggested it for consideration. And often, in the course of being interviewed about their gifts, donors make complimentary comments such as "the process was much easier than I thought it would be" and "the gift planning officer helped me so much by describing the various gift options."
More often than not, those comments wind up on the cutting room floor when the story is written. Why? Maybe other information seems more important in the limited space for a donor story. Or maybe you feel a tinge of embarrassment to "blow your own horn" (even though it's really the donor who is trumpeting your acumen).
But isn't that one of the most important points for the story to make? That the donor had all the appropriate information and felt supported by your office? That the process was easier than the donor thought it would be? And isn’t this exactly what other donors should know—that they, too, can contact you for help and education about what planned gift is best for them? And that the process of making the gift was easy?
Pentera's story writing questionnaire that is used by many of the nonprofits we work with includes a question about working with gift planning staff. That question often elicits compliments, and we make sure to include those remarks in the stories we write for charities. The writers in your gift planning office should consider doing the same.