By DonorSearch

“The future depends on what we do in the present.”
 -Mahatma Gandhi

No other fundraising method quite captures the essence of that quote like planned giving does.

In its simplest form, planned giving refers to a future donation that a supporter decides to give in the present.

Moving past the basic definition of the term, deeper complexity enters the mix and it goes from a concept that everyone can grasp to a lot of technical talk, legal jargon, and financial language. It’s still great for fundraising and highly recommended, but your organization is going to need someone on hand to translate all the complexities.

That’s why you hire a planned gifts officer. What does that job entail? Let’s go through a rundown of a planned giving job description.

This article aims to answer three main questions about the role of a planned gifts officer.

Before you go any further, you can click here for a planned giving refresher if you need it. Finished? Let’s get started.

Planned Giving Job Description Question 1: What is a planned gifts officer?

First, as a disclaimer, this post uses the term planned gift officer, but the job description provided is relevant for a group of related titles, like Director of Planned Giving, Planned Giving Officer, and other similar variations.

Regardless of what you name the development position, this description is aimed at covering the standard requirements and expectations of the lead of planned giving for an organization.

Now for the actual answer to the question.

A planned gifts officer is a member of a fundraising organization’s development team who works to cultivate and manage planned giving. 

That could entail anything from making personal planned giving asks of high-value donors to helming the creation of a branded planned giving program. Need for technical know-how will vary depending on the types of planned giving opportunities that the nonprofit offers.

It is relatively common to see a planned gifts officer also act as a major gifts officer or fulfill other aspects or duties for the development team. That mostly depends on the size and budget of the nonprofit that the officer works for.

Planned Giving Job Description Question 2: What are the planned gifts officer’s major tasks and responsibilities?

This answer could range drastically depending on the sophistication and status of the organization’s planned giving program.

There are three common set-ups:

  1. dedicated planned giving officer and department
  2. dedicated planned giving staff member within the major gifts department
  3. a member of the development team acts as the planned giving representative

As you can see from those three, the level of responsibility and the amount of tasks are clearly going to differ between a planned giving officer and a member of the development team who has part-time duties related to planned giving.

With all of that in mind, below is a list of the typical tasks and responsibilities that one can expect a planned giving professional to carry out. The depth by which those on the list are covered will change from nonprofit to nonprofit and set-up to set-up.

  • identifies and contacts planned giving prospects
  • offers educational opportunities and materials regarding planned giving for fellow staff and prospects/donors
  • manages (and possibly starts) a branded planned giving program
  • provides stewardship of donors who have already announced a commitment to planned giving
  • helps write marketing materials and communications for the planned giving program
  • generates program reports
  • presents necessary updates to the board and other organizational leaders

In most cases, this is a leadership role, and as such, a planned gifts officer can expect all planned giving needs to funnel through him/her.

Planned Giving Job Description Question 3: What should a planned gift officer have experience in/with?

For job descriptions, experience divides into education and work history. Both of which connect together to build an entire set of skills.

Education is tricky for a role like planned gifts officer. If you want to be a lawyer, you go to law school. If you want to be a doctor, you go to medical school. If you want to be a planned gifts officer, you go to planned gift school? Unfortunately that does not exist…yet.

To account for that, it is standard to see planned gifts officers with degrees from 4-year universities and possible further certifications that the professional has accrued over time.

The work history side of the division will be much more significant.

Planned giving is a complex topic that someone needs experience with before jumping into a leadership role. In fact, most organizations will want 10+ years in fundraising and/or leadership, along with the recommended skills to consider someone applying for a role as crucial as a planned gifts officer’s job can be.

Learning about that world and role takes time. Just browsing through the various planned giving terms can be time-consuming.

Because planned giving is not a course in school, you have to learn those terms and the ins and outs of the job through experience, either from the financial planning side or fundraising side of things.

From a combination of professional and educational experiences, planned gifts officers should have the following skills:

  • a proven fundraising track record, as well as possible history in finance, sales, and marketing
  • the ability to lead, work in a team setting, and work independently
  • detailed and in-depth knowledge of planned giving and its complexities:
    • estate planning, tax laws, wills, trusts, etc.
  • comfort in researching and analyzing large groups of data to uncover planned giving prospects
  • excellent verbal and written communication aptitude
  • capable of handling numerous tasks at once and still meeting deadlines

That list could go on and on, as with any job. The main takeaway with this question is that you are looking for someone who can both handle a fundraising leadership role and is also well-versed in the intricacies of planned giving. You’re looking for the person who sits in the middle of the Venn diagram for those two qualifications.

We hope that after reading this, you not only have a great, new found understanding of the role of a planned gifts officer, but that you also better grasp the entire topic of planned giving. A planned giving program can take your organization to the next level, as long as you have the right team in place to help it along.

Planned Giving

Planned Giving

Want to learn more about Planned Giving?
Request our free white paper today.


Planned Giving: The Job Description