In the most effective development programs, maturing planned gifts can account for 20 – 25% of total gift income in any given year. Whether in a campaign or during your institution’s annual giving efforts, you should have a clear understanding of and plan for how you will report, count, value, and credit planned gifts.
The Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP, formally NCPG) has a number of good guidelines around counting, reporting, valuing, and crediting planned gifts. However, it is important for all involved in our work to have definitional specificity around these important concepts. Here are some quick definitions that, hopefully, create some understanding of these terms and the important distinctions between them:
- Counting – the process of quantitatively summarizing all activity, progress, and results as compared with a set of fundraising goals. PPP (and CASE and AFP) agree that your institution should have a Current Gift Goal, a Revocable Planned Gift Goal, and an Irrevocable Planned Gift Goal. In addition, you should only count a planned gift when it is booked and not again when it matures.
- Reporting – the efforts to communicate progress toward your planned giving goals. This should be done as transparently (and accurately) as possible. Reporting can occur internally or externally and to various audiences. PPP (and CASE and AFP) recommend that all planned gifts should be reported at face value. In other words, if you have a $5,000,000 revocable planned giving goal, you should report the new $1,000,000 bequest intention from that 60 year old as a $1,000,000 revocable planned gift commitment.
- Valuing – the process of assessing the worth of a gift to an institution. Gift value is determined by a number of methodologies depending on the gift type, donor demographics, and other factors. Gift value usually represents net present value or future purchasing value. While we should report all planned gifts at face value, we may value each very differently.
- Crediting – the way in which an institution recognizes planned gift donors. While counting, reporting, and valuing need not be the sole methodology to determine donor credit, many institutions will use these calculations as a basis for establishing donor credit. Crediting is highly institution-specific. For example, one institution might recognize donors in their planned giving recognition society based on a simple verbal commitment while others will require written confirmation of the gift intention.
Gaining greater clarity around these important terms is a first step toward strengthening your planned giving program. When we better understand and implement best practices around counting, reporting, valuing, and crediting we put important focus on the programs that encourage giving the largest possible gifts for many of our donors.