How to Use Testimonials to Promote Planned Giving

Posted by Greg Ring on Oct 17, 2018 1:08:16 PM


Testimonies are a powerful tool to cultivate transformational gifts in your organization. Don’t miss out on the chance to shine a light on the great stories of generosity among your donors.

With most things in your financial life, you have the opportunity to learn by trial and error. If you don’t get it right, you can normally get the knowledge that you need and try again until you succeed.

But with the estate planning, you only get one shot. I don’t mean to be crass, but this is a fact that has profound implications for estate planning.

For most people, a gift from their estate is the single largest gift they will give in their entire lifetimes. With so much on the line and so many people that it will affect, the decisions facing individuals during the estate planning process can make it a harrowing experience.

I believe this is why the question I’m asked more than any other when speaking with donors about their legacy gifts is “What have others done in my situation?”

Because this is a one-time decision, they want to get it right. And the best way to do that is to hear stories of how others have left their mark on the world through their planned giving.

This is why testimonies are such a powerful tool in cultivating transformational gifts within your organization.

Donors want to know what others have done to get the inspiration and information that they need to make the right decision for themselves and their families.

One Person’s Story Can Make a Major Impact

You might think that in order to leverage the power of testimonies you have to get some kind of celebrity endorsement of sorts. But nothing could be further from the truth.

You don’t need the testimony of a high profile, wealthy individual to inspire others to give generously. In fact, in my experience, the most powerful testimonies come from regular, everyday people, like you and me.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a presentation speaking to groups of potential donors about considering a transformational gift to the organization, when a guy who owns a small widget company or runs a string of dry cleaners gets up and shares his story—and this is all it takes to unlock several new transformational gifts.

It wasn’t the president of the university, the hospital administrator, or the executive director. It was a regular person, just like you and me—and that’s where the power truly lies in testimonies.

This is a guy that your donors identify with. He’s built a business. Dealt with the competition. He’s had his fair share of disappointment and other types of challenges in his life. And instead of hoarding all the fruits of his labor, he’s electing to take care of his children and make an impact in the community.

Now that’s an inspiring story for many of your donors to hear!

The story of a person your donors can identify with often serves as a more compelling motivator than hearing the leader of your organization talk about the various needs that must be met.

Inspire Your Givers to Share Their Story

The simplest way to use testimonials to cultivate transformational gifts is to have someone they identify with stand up and share their story. This can work great in various types of small groups or even in a large group setting.

But don’t forget to leverage the power of testimonies in your blogs, newsletters, websites, and print media. If you can’t fit the entire testimony in a section, simply use a quote.

Another powerful medium to use for testimonies is video. Video is an incredible channel to use for testimonies because you can amplify the message across multiple platforms like your website, social media, and even live presentations with a projector.

Here are five examples of videos that feature donor testimonies. Don’t be intimidated by the professional production of these videos. Even with a small budget, you can create videos that compel donors to give generously because it’s the power of the testimony more than the medium that motivates donors to give.

In all of the marketing and fundraising communications that you create, do not forget this all-important tool to cultivating transformational gifts in your organization.

Be sure to include testimonials in all of your media channels to make sure that these incredible stories are getting out to your audience.

Are you using testimonials to cultivate transformational gifts for your organization?


This post originally appeared on The Giving Crowd blog.

Greg Ring

About the Author

Greg Ring

Greg Ring is the Co-Founder of The Giving Crowd. A recognized expert and thought leader in the planned giving mindset for the past three decades, Greg has served more than 200 ministries and nonprofits, developing and executing over $4 billion in documented planned gifts. His passion for the nonprofit sector has led to continual improvement of the service model. The Giving Crowd builds on this rich history, engaging technology so that both the local church and the mega nonprofit can participate effectively and efficiently in “the greatest transfer of wealth in history." Greg is married with three daughters and six grandchildren, and lives in Colorado Springs.