In their book The Right Side of the Table, Scott and Todd Fithian suggest fundraisers draw a metaphorical line to differentiate between the types of conversations with donors and the overall approach to planned giving.
They encourage fundraisers to see philanthropy from two distinct levels: below the line (BTL) and above the line (ATL) BTL deals with the “how,” or the nuts and bolts of making a planned gift. This includes tax planning, financial planning tools, and the planned gift options. ATL covers why the donor cares, what they want to support, and when. From the donor’s dreams to creating a meaningful legacy to the values they want to pass on to their children, these are the rea- sons our prospects seek to donate. The key is always knowing where we are with a donor. This concept can completely change your view on how we should think and talk about planned giving.
- Stay above the line as long as you can with a donor to make sure you fully understand what they are trying to accomplish with their gift(s).
- Look at your marketing and make sure 80-90% of it is Above the Line. The impact, the vision, the benefits to the donor.
- Read the Fithian book. It will likely “leave a mark”.