Pros and Cons: Planned Giving

It's also known as gift planning, deferred giving, life income giving, and endowment building. A planned gift is a donation you receive now but can't use till later. For example, a person names you in her will now, but you don't receive the money until after she dies. Planned giving includes bequests, trusts, pooled income funds, and annuities.


  • You can receive extremely large gifts.
  • Once you set up a planned giving program, it will bring in a constant flow of gifts.
  • Planned giving offers tax advantages to your donors as well as income for you.
  • Setting up a planned giving program is not as complicated, expensive, or time-consuming as many nonprofits think. Even if your nonprofit is small, you can start planned giving if you're willing to commit a few hours a day.


  • You will have to wait several years before you can use the money.
  • It requires a great deal of planning and foresight.
  • It takes time to set up a planned giving program.
  • Board members may be resistant to the idea of planned giving at first.


  • A clear, well written case statement is helpful in promoting planned giving. (You prepared such a statement in step 7.)
  • You and your staff and board must understand planned giving. Read, study, and attend planned giving seminars, along with your board and staff.
  • Planned giving requires extensive prospect research. Don't waste valuable time courting prospects who are unable to give.
  • Unless you are an attorney, offer no legal advice to potential planned giving donors. Be sure you have an attorney to answer your donors' legal questions.
  • Spend time educating local attorneys and financial advisers about planned giving. They can advise their clients how to receive tax advantages while helping a worthy cause. Everyone benefits.



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