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Planned Giving Programs: Just Do It!

By April 27, 2016May 11th, 2016Culture Change, Fundraising, Guest Post

When I’m working with nonprofit organizations so many times I hear, “we don’t have a planned giving program” OR “I don’t know how to start a planned giving program.” The very brilliant Carol Weisman recently shared a simple and effective way you can move past those (perceived) barriers and just do it!

Carol with Dianne Belk and her husband Lawrence Calder.

Carol with Dianne Belk and her husband Lawrence Calder.

Here’s Carol story that she has kindly agreed to allow me to share you with:

I went to Newport Beach, CA to teach Girl Scout professional staff how to be more effective fundraisers. As usual, I learned more than I taught when I heard Dianne Belk speak about planned giving. She and her husband founded the Dianne Belk and Lawrence Calder Legacy Fund Challenge.

Dianne gave a simple, elegant, and powerful presentation. Dianne told her story about becoming a Girl Scout. She has been involved in the movement for 64 years. She went from being a poor girl in the South, to engineering school, and on to conquer corporate America.

After I did the opening keynote, Dianne shared that she and her husband had the Girl Scouts in their will. She then asked all of the people who had the Girl Scouts in their estate plans to stand. At least 15% of the audience stood. She asked them to come to the stage. She then asked anyone who planned to make a gift to come forward, and each received a pin from the Juliette Gordon Low Society indicating a planned gift.

The photo op was powerful. Everyone was beaming.

Dianne spoke the next day on the specifics of planned giving. She then asked anyone who had thought about a planned gift during the evening and perhaps called a spouse if they wanted to be recognized. Another 11 people came forward.

I told Dianne how fabulous her speech was and gave her my card. Sure enough, when I returned to St. Louis, I got a call from her to thank me for my kind words. Within 15 minutes, I made a pledge for a planned gift. What made me do it?

  • She asked
  • She followed up
  • She was a volunteer (she does not even let the Girl Scouts pay her expenses)
  • I liked her husband. He stood behind her beaming with pride. (Lawrence looks like an older version of Michael Caine when he starred in “Alfie.”)
  • She invited me to dinner the next time I come to San Diego, and I knew she was sincere.
  • She told me the name of the person on staff who would be my liaison.
  • She was passionate, warm and not pushy.

By the way, the staff liaison contacted me within 24 hours to thank me and offer me any help that I might need.


Since cloning is not yet available to nonprofits, how do you find your own Dianne Belk? Here is what you look for:
1. A person with time
2. A person who has already made a planned gift
3. A person with passion for your mission
4. A person who is willing to get some training in both planned giving and speaking
5. A person who is great at follow-up
6. A team player who will partner with staff

Is it going to be easy to find your own Dianne Belk? No. But if you don’t start looking today, you won’t have a champion tomorrow.


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