An Age-old Question: What are the Attributes of an Elite Gift Planner?
Every Development Leader has their unique philosophy on the answer to this question, although several generally-agreed-upon attributes include the following:
- Someone with a background in tax, law, or financial planning is a good start and can be incredibly impactful when they apply those backgrounds to the nuances of a more specialized field in Planned Giving.
- They care about the mission of your organization, so much so, that they accept themselves as much as a Development fundraising professional as they do subject matter experts.
- Peer Development professionals respect, trust, and enjoy collaborating with this individual to the point the Gift Planner is invited to conversations to enhance the donor experience and move complex gifts forward to benefit your organization.
- This individual must have the experience and wisdom to fundraise for “blended gifts” and also be able to communicate with donors how to convey gifts of non-cash assets.
- Supporting departments in your back office of fundraising services build trust and value this Gift Planning Leader’s vision and has a desire to support the initiatives for the greater good of the organization.
- This Gift Planning Leader must respect your organization’s gift acceptance policy, while also weighing in on ways to review the policy and make updates. For example, whether or not to add emerging assets such as cryptocurrency to your gift acceptance policy.
- If your Gift Planning program has a staff greater than three FTE’s, this individual must have the experience to lead others as well as the programmatic expectations of elite programs, including but not limited to:
- tracking new bequest expectancies and reporting on other program metrics
- marketing and communications calendar
- delivering a ROI on marketing
Be Patient: The “Perfect” Gift Planning Leader is out there.
Sometimes, it takes longer to find someone who aligns with your vision for how Planned Giving fits your organization. Many terrific emerging Gift Planners have a passion for fundraising and program management, although they often still need a little time to develop and be mentored. One of the most significant challenges when searching for the “perfect” planned giving officer is the scarcity of experienced candidates. This scarcity results from the relative newness and specialty of the field and the great demand for the limited number of officers who are out there.
Did You Know: Gift Planning industry demographics are changing.
Between 2020-2030 the Planned Giving Industry will say goodbye to the retiring Baby Boomers-who essentially pioneered our modern Gift Planning programs- and usher in the Millenials-who are perhaps early in their careers. The TGPM can serve as an effective bridge until you find the right Gift Planning Leader for your organization.
How It Works: Hiring an Independent Contractor as Transitional Gift Planning Program Manager
Rather than taking on a purely advisory role, Transitional Gift Planning Program Managers are responsible for managing your program and are accountable for results. Operating as a Contractor gives Transitional Managers the authority and credibility to maintain productivity and effect significant change within an organization. A Consultant might offer helpful services, such as a planned giving “audit,” but the Transitional Gift Planning Program Manager is an Independent Contractor hired by your organization to step into the leadership shoes, lace them up and move the program forward as a genuine member of your team. These engagements may last for 3-24 months, depending on the length of time you determine necessary to advance the planned giving priorities for your organization.
Typically, organizations appoint interim managers to fill a position on short notice. An interim manager acts as a temporary leader during periods of transition. Organizations may look for external candidates for an interim management position if no internal employees meet the qualifications. This can be delicate when you have an outstanding internal employee, but they aren’t ready quite yet for your Lead position. Hiring someone from the outside very often results in your “temporarily appointed interim” Gift Planner leaving your organization. Whether they feel rejected or, realistically, because there’s an ongoing demand for experienced Gift Planners at many organizations. A benefit of hiring a Transitional Gift Planning Program Manager is your internal employee doesn’t have false expectations that they will automatically earn the lead role. Furthermore, you can get unbiased feedback from your Transitional Gift Planning Program Manager to determine whether your internal employee is ready to become and candidate for the leadership position or whether an outside search should become priority.