What Accounts for Increased Real Estate Gift Activity?

By Dennis Bidwell
November 2017

I believe that increases in real estate gift activity can be explained by several factors.

I think more non-profits have opened their doors to real estate gifts, in many cases actively marketing their interest in real estate gifts, because long-standing resistance to real estate gifts has been fading away. Why the more open attitude in these non-profits? It’s in part due to a recognition that there are accepted and proven best practices for real estate gift acceptance policies and procedures. I think it’s also due to the fact that more attention at professional conferences, and in journals, and on list serves, is being devoted to real estate gifts.

Another factor, at least at some institutions, is that key personnel who embodied an organization’s cautious attitudes toward real estate – perhaps a chief financial officer, or a general counsel – have retired or otherwise moved on. In many organizations there is the lore of the “horror story” real estate gift – the property with uninvestigated underground fuel tanks, the property with a distant cousin still owning a one-eight interest, etc. – that has formed the basis of turning away from real estate gift possibilities. Quite often I’ve seen attachment to that lore dissipate with the change of personnel over time.

And then there’s the simple fact that as organizations see their peer institutions raising substantial funds through real estate gifts, they begin to ask why their institution is leaving dollars on the table by not accepting real estate gifts.

I’ve also seen that more and more non-profits, as they contemplate the next large capital campaign, realize that next time around they’ll need to be going back to their donors armed with some different kinds of asks, and often at the top of that list is real estate.

Yet another ingredient in the changing attitude toward real estate gifts is that more non-profits are better understanding the motivation of real estate donors, and are doing a better of job marketing to those motivations. Specifically, as it’s understood that many owners of multiple properties are attracted to the prospect of unburdening themselves of the hassles and expense of continued property ownership, and turning the marketing process over to someone else. Marketing efforts that recognize this motivation – in addition to the tax benefits of real estate giving – can be quite successful.

And underlying all of this is the increasingly understood fact that the largest single category of household wealth in the United States – larger than retirement funds, larger than stocks and bonds held outside retirement funds, much larger than cash – is real estate. Though different data sets yield somewhat different conclusions, by most accountings private real estate wealth accounts for 35% to 40% of household wealth in the United States. (Cash and cash equivalents? About 15%)

Taken together, I think these various factors will continue to have more and more development operations opening their doors to real estate gifts, knowing that accepted due diligence practices and reasonable gift minimums will screen out the problematic gifts and allow focus on the truly promising real estate gift opportunities.

Ethics of Engaging Seniors about Possible Real Estate Gifts

By Dennis Bidwell
August 2017

Here, drawing on some of the suggestions in that document, is an approach that has worked for me and my clients and, I believe, has served well the interests of many donors and their families.

1. Nothing is more important than keeping in mind the best interests of your donor prospect’s present and future needs, as best you can determine them. This can mean putting the brakes on when an enthusiastic donor wants to give away more than appears good for them. Some years back I was working with a hospital in conversation with a retired nurse who was devoted to this organization, for whom she had worked her entire career. She wanted to give her home to the hospital, retaining a life estate. The problem was that she didn’t have much in the way of other assets, and she might have risked impoverishing herself should health challenges come her way in the years ahead. We expressed great appreciation for her extraordinarily charitable impulse, but recommended that she instead leave the house to the hospital in her will, leaving her options open.

2. It’s also important to keep in mind that one of the donor’s needs may very well be to feel good about the charitable legacy they leave behind. Indeed, I think the most satisfactory element of my work is helping people to realize that they sometimes have, through their real estate assets, charitable capacity way beyond what they thought possible. In doing so, extraordinary gifts sometimes result – gifts that leave the donor proud and satisfied beyond measure.

3. Always take time to probe to learn the donor prospect’s full set of objectives. Too often gift planners start a conversation with a donor prospect with a particular gift structure in mind. It’s almost always better to start by seeking to understand a donor’s complete situation – their income objectives, their tax planning objectives, their wishes regarding various pieces of real estate, their life-style wishes, their desires toward their children and other heirs, the variety of charities they wish to help. From this will come a variety of gift proposals aimed at meeting their particular objectives. The proposals are likely to be much better received when grounded in the prospect’s stated intentions.

4. Always urge your donor prospects to seek professional input from financial and legal advisors. But think carefully about the right time for donors to seek this input. I have worked with many gift officer clients to present a menu of interesting and appropriate real estate possibilities for the prospect to consider Sometimes the intrigued donor has immediately referred these possibilities to their attorney or other advisor, who has dismissed them out of hand as unconventional or untested. (Sometimes this means the advisor is personally unfamiliar with the recommended approach.) I have found it often works better to spend time with the donor, and family members, letting them arrive at their own understanding of the proposed arrangement, and only later in the process — when they are comfortable with a particular gift structure — turn to their professional advisors. At that point the advisor will of course feel compelled to caution them if they really see undue risk, but hopefully they’ll see their role more as implementing a viable strategy than finding reasons to say no.

5. Encourage the involvement of family members. This is trickier than it seems. Especially with real estate that’s been in the family and has acquired emotional attachments. Sometimes parents are very clear-headed about their desire to dispose of a piece of real estate knowing full well that would not be their children’s preference. Sometimes parents, well-advised by counsel, want to treat one child very differently than another. Which is to say that the involvement of children, or brothers and sisters, in the discussion or property disposition may or may not be appropriate. Like many other matters, this is where good judgment, aided by the advice of experienced colleagues, is essential.

6. Other guidelines. I have seen in the Santa Fe document and elsewhere a number of practices that seem important and reasonable:

  • Ask potential donors if there is anyone else they’d like to join them in a meeting with you.
  • Ask if the potential donor has an executed durable power of attorney. If so, include that person in discussions where feasible.
  • Always emphasize that no immediate decision is necessary.
  • If there is any reason to question the mental capacity of the potential donor, be sure that one of the donor’s professional advisors and/or a trusted family member is present for discussions.
  • It is important to promptly provide a written summary of discussions that have taken place, and to encourage the donor prospect to share this with others where appropriate (keeping in mind the caution of item #4 above.)

These are almost always somewhat tricky situations. It’s not appropriate or ethical for the charity’s representative to come on too aggressively or with too specific of a proposal early in the conversation with the prospect. On the other hand, it’s not the job of the charity’s representative to be so cautious and timid, out of fear of appearing pushy, that they withhold from the donor prospect creative and appropriate ideas that might unlock charitable potential in ways fulfilling to donor and charity both. Experience and judgment, and adherence to a common sense code of ethics, will reveal a middle path.

Attracting Real Estate Gifts – What Works

By Dennis Bidwell
July, 2016

It is clear to me that the likelihood of a non-profit receiving desirable real estate gifts (properties that are marketable, free of environmental and title problems, and with net value of at least $100,000) increases as the organization puts more effort in to marketing and outreach efforts. Conversely, non-profits that do little or nothing in the way of marketing their interest in real estate gifts tend to receive the occasional real estate inquiry, but it is often a “bad” piece of real estate that is offered (questionable marketability, title defects or environmental issues, likely net value way less than $100,000).
graph sept 2015

 

More and more I am seeing really significant real estate gifts come about because the institution reaches out to older individuals and couples who are at a point in their lives where they must make decisions about disposing of a vacation home or other property. Such property owners are sometimes quite intrigued at the gifting possibility when reminded – through the right marketing materials or in a conversation with a development officer — that they have considerable charitable capacity in their real estate, that a large number of charitable options are available to them, and that substantial tax advantages can accompany such gifts.

The graphic above, which I have shared with my readers before, tells the story:

Twenty-five years of experience helping non-profits attract, structure and dispose of real estate gifts tells me that when an organization doesn’t market its interest in real estate gifts, and doesn’t initiate conversations with donors about their real estate holdings, the organization is likely to receive only the occasional, haphazard inquiry about a piece of property. Very often, but not always, the property offered will be problematic in one way or the other – it’s an unmarketable time share, or a property with very little equity value once the mortgage has been paid, or a property with access issues, or a property with a complicated family ownership story, or a property with some sort of environmental complication.

Often, organizations that have been offered such gifts over time come to the conclusion that all real estate offered as gifts must be similarly problematic.

We all know of many organizations with a history of having accepted one or more of these “bad” real estate gifts, way back when, which has left behind the lore that real estate gifts are bad.

But hundreds of non-profit organizations are accepting many high quality real estate gifts every year. To a large extent the organizations receiving these gifts are the organizations that make these gifts happen through their marketing and outreach efforts.

Several years ago, I worked with the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning to conduct a survey of its members nationwide regarding real estate gifts. Thirteen percent of the organizations responding reported that 10% or more of their gifts in the last three years, measured in dollars, had come from real estate gifts.
Among these organizations reporting a high volume of real estate gifts, these are the percentages that rated various marketing and outreach approaches either “very effective” or “somewhat effective”:

graph 2 sept 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The conclusion? Real estate gift activity – particularly opportunities to close “good” real estate gifts — increases with the intensity and type of marketing and outreach effort undertaken.

The single most effective approach? Identifying prospects who fit the profile of a likely real estate donor (typically involving people over 65 owning multiple properties, geographically dispersed), and then initiating a conversation with them about their real estate holdings and their plans.

Screening out the “Bad” Gifts

Because marketing and outreach efforts have been shown to increase the number of properties being offered as gifts, it becomes very important that a development office is adept at quickly screening out the “bad” gifts, in order to devote scarce resources to the truly promising gifts. Fortunately, there are proven ways to quickly identify – and tactfully decline – the “bad” gift, while working in a donor-friendly way with the “good” properties offered.

More about this in a future article.

 

Making Good Real Estate Gifts Happen

By Dennis Bidwell
February, 2015

Experience continues to show that the likelihood of an organization receiving “good” real estate gifts (properties that are marketable, free of environmental and title problems, and with net value of at least $50,000) increases as a function of the effort expended in marketing and reaching out to likely real estate donors. Conversely, non-profits that do little or nothing in the way of marketing their interest in real estate gifts will tend to receive the occasional real estate inquiry, but it is often a “bad” real estate gift offer (questionable marketability, title defects or environmental issues, likely net value way less than $50,000).

This graphic tells the story:

Twenty years of experience helping non-profits attract, structure and dispose of real estate gifts tells me that when an organization doesn’t market its interest in real estate gifts, and doesn’t initiate conversations with donors about their real estate holdings, the organization is likely to receive only the occasional, haphazard inquiry about a piece of property.  Very often, but not always, the property offered will be problematic in one way or the other – it’s an unmarketable time share, or a property with very little equity value once the mortgage has been paid, or a property with access issues, or a property with a complicated family ownership story, or a property with some sort of environmental complication.

Often, organizations that have been offered such gifts over time come to the conclusion that all real estate offered as gifts must be similarly problematic. They don’t know what they are missing out on.

We all know of many organizations with a history of having accepted one or more of these “bad” real estate gifts, way back when, which has left behind the lore that real estate gifts are bad.

But hundreds of non-profit organizations are accepting many high quality real estate gifts every year.  It’s just that the organizations receiving these gifts tend to be organizations that make the gifts happen through their marketing and outreach efforts.

Several years ago, I worked with the National Committee on Planned Giving (now Partnership for Philanthropic Planning) to conduct a survey of its members nationwide regarding real estate gifts. (See Journal of Gift Planning, Volume 12, Number 3 for complete results.) Among the organizations reporting a high volume of real estate gifts, these are the percentages that rated various marketing and outreach approaches either “very effective” or “somewhat effective”:

The conclusion? Real estate gift activity – particularly opportunities to close “good” real estate gifts — increases with the intensity and type of marketing and outreach effort undertaken.

The single most effective approach? Identifying prospects who fit the profile of a likely real estate donor (typically people over 65 owning multiple properties, geographically dispersed), and then initiating a conversation with them about their real estate holdings and their plans.

That’s how most of the really good real estate gifts I see happen. By making them happen. 

 

Spend Your Time on the Right Real Estate Gift Prospects

Spend Your Time on the Right Real Estate Gift Prospects
by Dennis Bidwell
March 2012

My last article – “Good Real Estate Gifts Happen with a Little Effort” – showed that an organization will greatly increase its opportunities to attract “good” real estate gifts if it invests in marketing its interest in real estate gifts and, better yet, if it initiates conversations with prospects who fit the profile of a likely real estate gift prospect.  This graphic summarizes the evidence and the assertion:

good/bad chart

Good real estate gifts rarely just show up at your door – though some often will. But, as marketing and targeted outreach efforts increase, more gift opportunities will increase, and a greater percentage of those opportunities will be “good” gifts.

But, some have told me: ”We’re reluctant to market our interest in real estate gifts, because we don’t know what we do if we got a lot of inquiries. How would we manage them? How could we quickly tell which are the “bad” gifts to be avoided, and which are the “good” gift possibilities worth spending time on?”

I have two simple answers to these questions.

1) Revise your gift acceptance policies and procedures to address various types of real estate gift structures. Before you increase your marketing efforts, you need to know that everyone in your organization is on the same page regarding: whether you would or would not accept real estate to fund a Deferred Charitable Gift Annuity; under what circumstances you would trustee a real estate-funded Charitable Remainder Trust from the outset; do you have a minimum age for considering Retained Life Estates; do you have an overall gift minimum for real estate gifts, and how is that minimum calculated?

You should also carefully use this opportunity to clarify, and very likely streamline, the matter of Who Does What: who gathers the initial information, who decides whether the gift has enough merit to warrant further investigations, who manages the due diligence process (and who pays for what in this process), who writes the gift acceptance letter that clearly outlines the gift structure and any conditions or contingencies, and who makes the final gift acceptance decision?

Time spent addressing these key questions – and drawing on emerging best practices in the real estate gift field nationally — is a very worthwhile step in preparing for a more robust level of real estate gift activity.

2) Adopt a two-step gift screening/due diligence process. Sometimes I observe an institution responding to an initial real estate gift inquiry by sending in the mail, or via email, a 15-page “Real Estate Questionnaire” accompanied by a request to provide deeds, mortgage discharges, title insurance documents, property tax bills, leases, etc. The institution then expresses surprise when they never hear back from the prospect, sometimes concluding that they weren’t really interested in giving away their property after all. I would respectfully suggest that there’s room for another explanation: Perhaps the questionnaire and document request were tremendously donor-unfriendly, and very understandably put-offish.  Read more…

Here’s a proven and more donor-friendly way to handle the situation.

First, use a simple one page set of questions to gather, over the phone or on-site if possible, the essential pieces of information about the property and the prospect’s situation and objectives.  (Contact me, and I’ll provide such a sample.)  My experience is that, in most cases, a cordial 30- to 45-minute conversation can reveal sufficient information to know whether this is a gift that is worth pursuing further, i.e. a gift that likely meets the criteria in one’s gift acceptance policies.  This basic information – combined with a little time on www.zillow.com and Google maps, and perhaps a quick call to a local broker or planning official – will generally point to a fairly clear decision – Yes, the gift has enough promise that we’ll dig in to a greater level of detail in a second phase of investigation, or No, thank you very much, but we need to decline your kind gift offer at this time (and spend our time instead on more promising gift situations).

Second, assuming the individual or group entrusted (in your clear gift acceptance procedures) with making this preliminary decision decides to take the gift possibility to the next step, then a more rigorous information gathering and due diligence phase kicks in. Even then, I would never suggest sending off the 15-page questionnaire. Rather, I would offer to walk through the questionnaire with them, gathering information, and going on a document hunt, in a friendly and collaborative manner.

As for due diligence, I would always start with finding a good local real estate attorney to order up a title search and pass along any obvious permitting or zoning challenges.  (I’ve seen too many situations where, far along in the process, the donor remembers that cousin Sally owns a 1/8th interest.) I would always gather market opinions from trustworthy local realtors before commissioning my own appraisal. And, based on growing evidence from the field, the clear trend is for the institution to foot the bill for a Phase I environmental assessment (unless that requirement is waived altogether in certain routine residential situations) – assuming all other aspects of the gift are checking out – and to regard it as a legitimate cost of doing business.  (I have seen nice real estate gifts go to another organization because the initial institution insisted it was “policy” to require the donor to pay the $2,200 for an environmental assessment, even if the value of the gift was $750,000!)

So, I would suggest, if you invest a little up-front time in thinking through these policies and procedural and screening matters, and give some thought to who you will turn to if you need additional professional help, then you’re ready to market your interest in real estate gifts and, even better, arrange conversations with the prospects who fit the profile of a promising real estate donor.

More about identifying the promising real estate gift prospect in my next article.

Good Real Estate Gifts Happen with a Little Effort

Good Real Estate Gifts Happen with a Little Effort
The Bad Gift Offers Happen Anyway

by Dennis Bidwell

January 30, 2012

I am more convinced than ever that the likelihood of an organization receiving “good” real estate gifts (properties that are marketable, free of environmental and title problems, and with net value of at least $50,000) increases as a function of the effort expended in marketing and reaching out to likely real estate donors. Conversely, non-profits that do little or nothing in the way of marketing their interest in real estate gifts will tend to receive the occasional real estate inquiry, but it is often a “bad” real estate gift offer (questionable marketability, title defects or environmental issues, likely net value way less than $50,000).

This pattern, I believe, is even more pronounced during these challenging times.  People wanting to unload truly problematic properties will try to do so without any prompting from a non-profit development office. But at the same time more and more excellent real estate gifts are being made  –  because many older individuals and couples have reached the time in their lives where they must make a decision about disposing of a vacation home or other property, and they are often intrigued at the gift possibility when reminded by a development officer that they have charitable capacity in their real estate, and that a large menu of charitable options is available to them.

This graphic tells the story:

Twenty years of experience helping non-profits attract, structure and dispose of real estate gifts tells me that when an organization doesn’t market its interest in real estate gifts, and doesn’t initiate conversations with donors about their real estate holdings, the organization is likely to receive only the occasional, haphazard inquiry about a piece of property.  Very often, but not always, the property offered will be problematic in one way or the other – it’s an unmarketable time share, or a property with very little equity value once the mortgage has been paid, or a property with access issues, or a property with a complicated family ownership story, or a property with some sort of environmental complication.

Often, organizations that have been offered such gifts over time come to the conclusion that all real estate offered as gifts must be similarly problematic.

We all know of many organizations with a history of having accepted one or more of these “bad” real estate gifts, way back when, which has left behind the lore that real estate gifts are bad.

But hundreds of non-profit organizations are accepting many high quality real estate gifts every year.  It’s just that the organizations receiving these gifts tend to be organizations that make the gifts happen through their marketing and outreach efforts.

Several years ago, I worked with the National Committee on Planned Giving (now Partnership for Philanthropic Planning) to conduct a survey of its members nationwide regarding real estate gifts. (See Journal of Gift Planning, Volume 12, Number 3 for complete results.) This survey found that 13% of the organizations responding reported that 10% or more of their gifts in the last three years, measured in dollars, had come from real estate gifts.

Among the organizations reporting a high volume of real estate gifts, these are the percentages that rated various marketing and outreach approaches either “very effective” or “somewhat effective”:

The conclusion? Real estate gift activity – particularly opportunities to close “good” real estate gifts — increases with the intensity and type of marketing and outreach effort undertaken.

The single most effective approach? Identifying prospects who fit the profile of a likely real estate donor (typically involving people over 65 owning multiple properties, geographically dispersed), and then initiating a conversation with them about their real estate holdings and their plans.

Screening out the “Bad” Gifts

Because marketing and outreach efforts have been shown to increase the number of properties being offered as gifts, it becomes very important that a development office is adept at quickly screening out the “bad” gifts, in order to devote scarce resources to the truly promising gifts.  Fortunately, there are proven ways to quickly identify – and tactfully decline – the “bad” gift, while working in a donor-friendly way with the “good” properties offered.

More about this in my next article.

Toward a More “Purposeful” Real Estate Program

Making Real Estate Gifts Happen

September 27, 2011

More and more non-profits are becoming aware that they are not seeing the volume of real estate gifts experienced by some of their peers.  They are realizing that other organizations have enjoyed considerable success in attracting a portion of the estimated 30 percent of the nation’s private wealth that is in real estate holdings.

Some organizations’ development operations have responded by transitioning over time from a program that occasionally accepts gifts of real estate in various forms, to one that more purposefully seeks to make the right real estate gifts happen.  This transition needs to occur, of course, while taking appropriate precautions to manage the various types of risk (environmental, liquidity, holding cost) that can be associated with owning real estate.

A review of the experience of those non-profits that have successfully made this transition reveals several important steps in developing a more active and lucrative real estate gifts program.

Get the key players on the same page

Successful programs tend to have clear gift acceptance policies and procedures governing real estate.  These policies assure that everyone in the organization is on the same page regarding the types of properties (residential, commercial, farms and ranches, undeveloped land, etc.) that will be accepted and the gift structures (CRTs, CGAs, retained life estates, bargain sales, etc.) that can be employed. These policies also tend to establish minimum gift amounts that take into account, one way or another, the often time-consuming and costly process of structuring, analyzing, and closing gifts of real estate.  Also, it is important to be clear about which parties in the organization (planned giving staff, treasurer’s office, general counsel, board development committee), as well as which outside sources of expertise, are involved in which aspects of the real estate gift review and approval process.

It is often very helpful to gather in one place all of an institution’s key players with responsibility for real estate gifts in order to refine these gift acceptance policies and procedures.  Such a working session can provide an opportunity for all to express their worries and reservations – which exist in some form in almost every institution – and then to share information and devise due diligence and approval procedures that address those concerns.  What emerges is often not just a set of clear policies and procedures, but an enhanced appreciation for the potential of real estate gifts, as well as streamlined relationships for facilitating such gifts in the future.

A two-stage review process

Increasingly, non-profits are adopting more “user-friendly” postures with regard to potential real estate gifts.  One way this new attitude comes across is by adopting a two-stage process for reviewing such gifts.

The aim of the first stage is to gather essential information about the property, the donor prospect, and the proposed gift structure as rapidly as possible in order to provide the prospect with a prompt indication of whether or not your institution wants to pursue the gift.  Providing such an answer quickly not only avoids wasting a great deal of time and effort on the part of the donor prospect, but also assures that your institution’s staff is spending its time on the truly promising gifts.

For potential gifts that pass such an initial screen, a period of due diligence then follows.  It is generally at this point that the donor prospect is asked to provide much more extensive information and documentation about their property and their financial situation.

The key elements in a due diligence process designed to identify, manage, and minimize risks generally consist of the following:

1) title investigation with the assistance of a local real estate attorney;

2) a Phase I environmental assessment, with follow-up as needed;

3) an independent assessment of local market conditions and the property’s market value (usually stopping short of a full-blown qualified appraisal); and

4) a building inspection (if appropriate), along with a personal visit by a representative of the institution.

Moreover, non-profits are recognizing that in order to be in control of the due diligence process, as well as to be more “donor friendly,” it makes good business sense to assume the costs of these investigations, rather than ask the donor to do so.

Gift acceptance letter

Once the committee charged with assessing potential real estate gifts has reviewed the various documents generated in the due diligence process and has agreed to accept the gift, it is generally good practice to communicate this decision to the donor in a detailed letter.  Such a letter would include any conditions placed on the gift and any proposed alternative gift structures, as well as a “roadmap” of sorts detailing who needs to do what along the way towards a closing of the gift.

Property disposition

Since the vast majority of real estate gifts are accepted with the intent of liquidating the property as quickly as possible (as opposed to gifts accepted for the ongoing use of the non-profit in furtherance of its mission), it usually makes sense to retain a local real estate broker to handle the listing and sale of the property.

Staff and trustee training

Once there is agreement within the institution on the types of real estate gifts that will be accepted, as well as the process for analyzing and accepting such gifts, many organizations find it useful to conduct real estate gift training sessions for development staff and board members.  These sessions should include everyone who may enter into conversation with a donor prospect about a gift of real estate.  The importance of briefing board members on real estate gifts cannot be overstated.  After all, it is highly likely that they will come into contact with donor prospects (including fellow board members) who might mention, for example, plans to sell the family’s summer home, thus making them candidates for follow-up gift conversations.

 

Marketing

When there is awareness at the staff and board level of the “profile” of the likely real estate donor, as well as concurrence on the types of real estate gifts to be accepted, organizations often choose to get the word out that they are interested in discussing real estate gift possibilities.  Case studies in newsletters and mailings, web site illustrations, special mailings, workshops for professional advisors, annual report “advertising” – these and other marketing vehicles should be used to plant the seed for friends of your organization who are seeking creative ideas about how they might use their surplus real estate holdings to further the mission of the organization.

Research and personal visits

Surveys have shown that the single most effective way to stimulate real estate gifts for many organizations is to conduct donor research aimed at identifying prospects who own multiple pieces of real estate and are 65 or older, and then to arrange personal visits with such prospects during which their plans for the future of their real estate holdings are discussed.  It may take some time before gift officers at your organization develop a comfort level in initiating such conversations, but this is clearly a highly effective way to develop real estate gifts.

Conclusion

Real estate is an important source of wealth for many donors.  While gifts of real estate are inherently more complex and risky than gifts of cash or publicly-traded securities, we have shared some proven steps your organization can take to manage this complexity and risk.  Once your organization has put in the work to have agreed-upon policies and procedures in place for handling real estate gifts, it will be more prepared to attract and close lucrative real estate gifts.

Thoughts on How to Market a Real Estate Gift Program

October 16, 2009 

Research and anectodal reports point to one marketing theme that tends to work better than all others when it comes to attracting gifts of real estate to a non-profit organization.  It isn’t an emphasis on the tax deductions that can be generated by real estate gifts. And it isn’t an appeal to the wonderful mission and good works of the organization.  

What is it? It’s an appeal to the fact that many aging property owners find the continued ownership and management of properties (especially second or third or fourth homes) burdensome and worrisome.  

Such property owners are often eager for ideas on low-hassle ways of disposing of their real estate, especially when it furthers their charitable objectives and serves their tax planning needs.

So, rather than run magazine and newsletter advertisements that say “Give us your real estate because we’re a wonderful organization and will do good things with your gift,” try something like this: 

“If you’re approaching a time in your life when you need to make decisions about parting with a property that has become more burdensome than enjoyable, give us a call. We have ideas that might work for you and work for us.”

For information on how Bidwell Advisors can help develop a real estate gifts marketing program, click here.