Home Search About This Site MGI Archive Contact Us
Use Proven Resources - Success Stories: Planned Giving

Stations that have participated in one of CPB's major giving programs feel energized and ready to advance their major giving programs. We want to capture this enthusiasm by sharing successes and new ideas. Do you have a major giving success story? By letting us tell your story on this page, you will encourage other stations to continue their major giving efforts. Simply write up your story and .

Topics of Interest
Topics of Interest

WNED Receives Planned Gift of Over $1 Million from $65 Member

At the end of December of 2006, I received a check in the mail for $13,586 from a financial agent listing a Charitable Lead Trust in the name of a donor that has been on our files for nearly 25 years. This donor averaged gifts between $25-$65 during her membership. No contact had ever been made outside normal membership activity. I thought that this was a simply a bequest from her will that we now realized.

I called the financial agent to determine the details of where the donor would like the gift to be directed and if we could recognize her during an upcoming drive or in our newsletter. After a brief conversation regarding her desire to remain anonymous, the agent mentioned that this year's payment was prorated, that is why it was so small. After prodding a little more, I was told that we should expect fixed annual payments of $57,000 for the next 20 years. This is a non-revocable instrument that has listed our FM station as the beneficiary. The gift will total $1.14 million when it is realized.

It goes to show you that EVERY conversation donors have with your station is important. Good customer service at any level is key in establishing relationships to attract planned gifts. WNED plans on announcing this gift to the public at a long-time member event in late April.

Submitted by:
Jeffrey Bell
Director of Major Gifts

2006 PBS DevCon Award Winner: WHRO

TITLE | Plant, Nurture and GROW!

GOALS | This year, primed with knowledge gained at DevCon and through the Major Giving Initiative (MGI), WHRO set out to make Planned Giving a vital element of our annual development efforts. Our Planned Giving goals for 2005-2006 were:

  • To enlist a committee of professionals for a Planned Giving Advisory Committee
  • To increase participation in the Legacy Society, established to recognize those who include WHRO in their estate plans
  • To grow WHRO's endowment fund

In order to meet these goals, staff and Board jointly determined that our Planned Giving program needed three key elements to succeed:

  • Dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer leadership
  • Increased and focused marketing efforts
  • Informed and enthusiastic staff leadership

PROCESS | We asked a committed Foundation Board member, who named WHRO in his estate plans in 1998, to lead our Planned Giving Advisory Committee. This committee, representative of the large geographic region served by WHRO, includes two attorneys, two estate planning professionals, an investment banker, and a business partner. Committee members then enlisted other professionals to meet with prospects at WHRO on an as needed basis — to answer questions and provide guidance — at no cost.

WHRO has participated in the Visions newsletter program for many years and sent nearly 800 donors and planned giving prospects a brochure detailing giving at year-end, along with the Winter Visions newsletter package. We also increased our planned giving outreach efforts in print and on-air. Every FY06 issue of the bi-monthly WHRO Member Guide (distribution 30,000) included print ads based on PBS' on-air planned giving spots alongside a listing of Legacy Society members and special mentions of newly received planned gifts. On-air promotion consisted primarily of PBS-produced planned giving spots, which aired 688 times on WHRO TV-15 during FY06. With guidance from Planned Giving/Development staff, on-air traffic moved planned giving spots to strategic time slots to better reach a variety of viewers, including our senior citizen audience.

IN FY06, WHRO introduced a complementary component to on-air TV and radio campaigns: new and renewing members were encouraged to consider an additional $1 gift to WHRO's endowment fund. We had an incredible response — over 70% participation during pledge drives, with some individuals donating significantly more specifically for the endowment. To further extend outreach, development staff instituted a "road show" plan at select retirement communities, featuring a prominent local WHRO radio personality and engaging seniors on a personal level. These included music education, trivia and planned giving components. The Planned Giving Advisory Committee and staff chose a customized estate planning brochure to distribute at donor events and to prospects on a by-request basis — and committee members volunteered to distribute brochures to professional colleagues with their own personalized cover letter. Online marketing efforts included enhanced and detailed planned giving pages on WHRO's website, with detailed gift type information for all manner of planned gifts and appropriate staff contact information, and saw nearly 1,000 site visits in the second quarter.

Planned giving inquiries grew 62% while Legacy Society membership expanded 12% (and included a $250,000 Charitable Remainder Trust). Legacy Society members were invited to all major donor events. WHRO received five bequests in FY06, including a $30,000 bequest from a member whose lifetime giving was $1,628; and the station's single largest bequest ever, $2,249,362 from a $35 annual member whose giving lapsed during the last decade of his life. As a result of these bequests, the WHRO endowment quadrupled.

RESULTS | We learned that every donor today should be treated as tomorrow's potential legacy giver, and that hidden gems can be found throughout our donor base. We will build on this next year with an effort to uncover potential prospects through prospect screening with GG&A, add pull-out inserts to our Member Guide for select mailings, and make personal calls to follow up on all inquiries while stewarding the Legacy Society membership today. Two bequests for FY07 have already been identified.

IMPACT | These successes made a positive difference on Board and staff understanding of the incredible value of planned giving and an active, funded planned giving program. Committed volunteer leadership, increase marketing efforts, and dedicated planned giving staff are instrumental to a successful planned giving program for any station. Plant the planned giving seed, nurture the community of supporters, and watch the planned giving results grow!

Wisconsin Public Television Is Named in $500,000 Bequest... and Learns a Lesson

In summer, 2005, I called a trust officer about an annual gift we receive from a trust he manages. During the conversation, he remarked that it was funny that I had called at this moment, for he was working on the estate of another client who wanted to include WPT in her will for a rather large bequest, approximately $300,000. He asked for information, which I sent him, but he was unwilling to share the donor's name.

Two months later, Diane Agans, our major gift officer, called the trust officer to invite him and his still anonymous client to a station event in their area. They agreed, giving us the opportunity to meet the donor and the trust officer privately before the event. She was honored and impressed to be invited. A few weeks later, the trust officer advised us that her will had been finalized and that WPT stand to receive $500,000 in this donor's estate. Our gesture of inviting her to our event increased the expected gift by $200,000!

But we learned another lesson from this interaction. In researching the donor, we learned that she has contributed many small gifts to WPT over more than 30 years. We also learned that she had requested information about including us in her will in the past, but that, after mailing her a packet of information, we have failed to follow up. With the help of our MGI consultant, we have reworked our communications procedures to take advantage of such opportunities in the future.

Submitted by:
Jon Miskowski
Director of Development

Pioneer Public Television Receives $100,000 Estate Gift

Pioneer Public Television covers over forty rural counties in western Minnesota, northern Iowa and eastern South Dakota. The invitation to participate in the Major Giving Initiative came at a time of declining membership and a struggle with debt service. Our decision to get involved has proved profitable these past two years.

Early in our process of defining our Mission/Vision/Values and identifying prospects, a letter was submitted to the estate trust of a deceased member. We were pleasantly surprised to receive a $15,000 gift in August 2004.

In January of 2005 we began urging major and planned gifts in virtually every communication form at our disposal. This included some 3-minute messages that air to better explain our case.

Imagine our shock when we opened the envelope this year to find a gift of $100,000! This represents the largest individual gift Pioneer has ever received in our 40-year history.

There is little doubt that the change in attitude, examination of services, improved systems and enthusiastic support of everyone connected with the organization played a part in this wonderful (and greatly needed) gift.

Submitted by:
Glen T. Cerny
President/General Manager
Pioneer Public Television

WGBY Uses Planned Giving Spots to Secure Gift

WGBY customized the new planned giving spots that were sent out on April 1. We started them in our rotation last week. This morning, I got a call from a donor. He has been a mid-level donor for 20 years. He said that WGBY is about the only station that he and his wife watch. He started seeing the spots last week. He said he was so moved by them that he wanted to find out how he could provide for WGBY in his will!

Submitted by:
Dawn Faucher
WGBY Public Television

Lakeland Public TV Secures Two Endowment Gifts

Lakeland Public Television (located in Bemidji/Brainerd Minnesota) began with the MGI project in March of 2004. Our station has approximately 4500 members. We have 84 individuals who currently contribute $300 or more. When we started our program just over five years ago, we had 14 individuals contributing $300 or more.

The major donor work is primarily done by the Director of Development. This responsibility is added to all the other job responsibilities. The time is limited, so we've tried to be very efficient with our process.

Our initial focus has been to set up a cultivation strategy. We began using a system that was suggested by Jim Lewis when he was here in June. Rather than doing a 50% effort with a lot of people, we decided to give 100% effort with 20 people. We put them on this cultivation sheet and gradually started working with the contacts as well as determining when the individuals would be ready to make a gift.

Lakeland Public Television recently established its endowment. We are utilizing the endowment to jumpstart our major donor giving. In the last two weeks, we have completed two "official" asks. The result has been a $25,000 and $10,000 endowment commitment. The plan is to begin doing an average of one official ask per week as we work through those who have been on the cultivation schedule.

We are very pleased with the results and look forward to meeting our goal of $120,000 in endowment commitments this year. For a station of our size and given the fact that this is added on top of our other responsibilities, this is a good goal!

Submitted by:
Deb McGregor-Pfleger
Assistant General Manager and Development Director
Lakeland Public Television