Marketing Gift Annuities via the Web
Written by Nev Major, ACGA Newsletter Co-Chair   
Friday, October 02, 2020 11:41 AM

As many non-profit organizations have switched to remote and work from home options due to the pandemic, staying in touch with supporters and continuing fundraising efforts in new ways has become even more important. Many organizations have put in place travel restrictions, restrictions on in-person visits and are relying more on electronic communications to engage supporters. In addition, the need for raising new gifts remains a priority due to the continued economic uncertainty of these times.

Gift annuities remain a valuable source of life income gifts for charities. Past experience has shown that donors are interested in the fixed income payments offered by gift annuities. It remains crucial to market and close gift annuities using strategies such as email and web-based marketing. These strategies allow the charity to easily explain the benefits of a charitable gift annuity and provide tools for donors to both illustrate these gifts for themselves and contact the charity for follow up on gift inquiries.

The American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) and the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (CGP) released the results of a survey on gift annuity best practices in April 2020. When asked whether their organization uses a website to explain gift annuities, 90.6% of respondents answered yes. The majority of responding charities have been using a website to explain and market gift annuities for more than five years. Only 36% of respondents said that use of the web marked a change in their marketing practices in the past five years.

For those whose use of the web for gift annuities had changed, responses varied:

  • “We recently overhauled our gift planning website, and we strive to make the site simple and engaging.”
  • “We are introducing a new website resource for donors and advisors that will have expanded promotion of CGAs.”
  • “We have tried to simplify the language and emphasize the benefits to donors and make our calls to action clearer.”
  • “We added a short paragraph explaining CGAs on our Legacy Giving link.”
  • “We revamped our website about five years ago. We have a web page that explains annuities, provides an example of a donor scenario, features a short video about how CGAs work, offers a downloadable brochure about annuities and provides a link to an annuity calculator.”

When respondents were asked about the most important message organizations are using to communicate the benefits of gift annuities on their website, impact on the charity received the highest response (43.5%). It is notable that the data shows that impact messages for gift annuities are more important in web-based marketing than for email marketing (40.5%) or direct mail (37.5%). Also, annuity rates messaging is less important for web-based messaging (15.4%) than for email (23.1%), where direct email marketing may be used to announce to a donor a rate change or make them aware of how their specific rate may have changed/improved, promoting a new or repeat annuity.

The messaging for gift annuities on the web is somewhat different than the messaging contained in direct mail or email. The goal of a website is to inform each donor in order to make it easier to understand giving options. Many respondents pointed to content about the mechanics of gift annuities—how they work and why a donor would want one. Others mentioned web content focused specifically on the benefits of funding a gift annuity, including the annual fixed payments, possible tax-free income, and tax savings from a charitable deduction. Similar to how they use direct mail and email, organizations use donor stories and testimonials to effectively reach the 70-plus age demographic for gift annuities.

Nearly half of all charities who offered a response reported that they closed CGA gifts based on a process that originated on their website. This response is higher than responses for leads coming from print or email, with 17.1% of respondents seeing 11–30% of their CGA gift dollars based on web marketing.

Click here to learn more about charitable gift annuities and the benefits of joining the American Council on Gift Annuities.