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The Return of "The Blue Bible"

A message to my readers.

In its first two editions, (1988 and 1991), The Complete Guide to Planned Giving helped thousands of people master the most difficult, technical, and intimidating area of fund raising, allowing them to start new planned giving programs, invigorate existing programs, or simply incorporate more sophisticated approaches into fund raising proposals. Now, the guide that its readers nicknamed The Blue Bible, and has been stolen out of many public libraries, was taken apart, chapter by chapter, completely overhauled, and updated with the most current strategies and tax information available today. Some of the text is the same because the material and information is timeless. After all, how many new ways can you describe the operation and benefits of the retained life estate, the pooled income fund, or a gift of life insurance?

However, a lot has changed about planned giving in ten years. For one, the tax law has changed. There was no FLIP Unitrust when the last edition came out. The last two editions did not even have a chapter on retirement plan assets. The word Internet never appeared in the last edition. Did donors communicate with planned giving officers on e-mail in 1991? And what about the proliferation of states that regulate gift annuities since 1991? The planned giving landscape is a very different place from what it was in 1991. Was there such a title as Director of Principal Gifts in 1991? This new edition includes it all, and more.

The Complete Guide to Planned Giving is a very serious hands-on guide, written for real people like you, who operate with inadequate support staff, puny budgets, difficult or unsupportive bosses, nonsupportive boards, dysfunctional fund raising departments, chaotic environments, bizarre and restrictive rules about who you can interact with (like the President or trustees), or all of the above. . . . . and still have to produce results. This book is not politically correct. Sometimes irreverent, sometimes too honest, this book tells you what really happens to you day to day, in the trenches, when you have a job as Director of Planned Giving. It tells you how to get through your day to day situations, how to set priorities when many competing interests demand your time, and when things are too unproductive, when to start looking for another job.

Knowing that your experiences and challenges with donors, with other colleagues, with your boss, with the board, and the stress of meeting your deadlines, are not unique but very common, you can persist and survive.

Having said all that, being a director of planned giving has been my whole adult life since I was 22, and I would not trade it for anything. It is the most rewarding, satisfying, and enjoyable career I can imagine. You, too, can have the career of your dreams. . . . and with this book as your companion, you will thrive in planned giving.

With this one volume in your fund raising library, and over 400 ridiculously dense, information-packed pages, you will learn how to:

  • Start and run a successful planned giving program from scratch, even if you are an alien who dropped off the moon having no knowledge of fund raising, development, or U.S. federal taxation;

  • Deal effectively with your board of trustees so that its members will be on your side, or if not, how to work around them;

  • Recruit, train, and work with volunteers to substantially increase the success of your program without going into therapy in the process;

  • Develop a master plan, a budget, and a set of goals and objectives that will see you through the next 12 months;

  • Evaluate which planned giving vehicles or gift types to offer and set up the procedures to make them all run smoothly;

  • Integrate planned giving into a campaign for maximum result;

  • Generate inquiries from marketing and direct mail so you can keep the gifts coming in;

  • Work with annual giving, major gifts, principal gifts, and other fund raising departments in a partnership to increase all gift categories in harmony with yours;

  • Start a bequest program in 60 days (really);

  • Run a planned giving program in a one-person shop and get results all by yourself;

  • Cultivate potential donors and then effectively solicit them for gifts without caving;

  • And, much, much more!


Who can benefit from this book?

  • Planned Giving Officers who actually need to perform;

  • Major gifts, leadership gifts, or principal gifts officers who want to be more effective on a visit (get planned giving into your vocabulary);

  • Directors of Development or Executive Directors who need to know precisely what to do to start a program and what you can do on your own;

  • Trust officers who want to secure more charitable business from either nonprofit organizations as charitable clients or current personal trust customers;

  • Allied professionals such as attorneys, accountants, or financial advisors who are finding a greater demand from clients on charitable vehicles and options.

Why should you trust me? Simple. I was there.

Debra Ashton
September 2000



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