Goldwater Institute

Case Study

A $1 million planned gift from a well-cultivated donor relationship.

Success in attracting planned gifts is often a case of informing donors, in an appealing and credible way, that your organization is not only eligible to be included in their estate plans, but that you want to be included—that you are in it for the long haul and invite them to partner with you in this special way.

Several years ago, American Philanthropic worked with the Goldwater Institute to craft a special planned giving mailing for select donors. The mailing revealed that a handful of supporters had included the Institute in their estate plans, allowing the Institute to reach out to, recognize, and strengthen relationships with these men and women.

The mailing also reminded one elderly donor—who had, in fact, become a donor because of a direct mail appeal only two years earlier—that she wanted to change her will to include the Institute.

That donor passed away a year later and the Institute received word that she had left the organization a gift of $1 million.

On a macro level, American Philanthropic’s survey data reveals that organizations which invest in robust planned-giving programs reap the benefits. Looking solely at organizations with annual fundraising revenue exceeding $1 million programs, we found the following in a 2016 survey.


Robust Planned Giving Program

Nominal Planned Giving Program

Avg. planned gifts last 5 yrs.



Avg. revenue from planned gifts last 5 yrs.



Avg. pending planned gifts



Clearly, any nonprofit that fails to invest in building its planned-giving program is making an unwise financial decision.

American Philanthropic is registered as “fundraising counsel,” “fundraising consultants,” or other similar designations in all states requiring this kind of registration. We did not act as a “professional fundraiser” in the case cited above, meaning, among other things, that we did not at any time solicit funds, assets, or property on our client’s behalf.