There’s a lot of potential legacy giving out there in the universe. Per Giving USA 2022, giving by bequest was an estimated $46 billion, (an increase of $5 billion from just two years previous). What are you doing to assure some of it will flow to your cause?
First, Identify Your Audience for Legacy Gifts
I cover this subject in depth in Where Are Our Nonprofit’s Legacy Donors? Contrary to the way most nonprofits behave, legacy gifts don’t simply fall from the sky. They’re not delivered by storks carrying baskets filled with wills, trusts and beneficiary designations. You need to do something proactive.
You can’t simply rest on your reputation, however solid it may be. You could be raising tons and tons of money annually, and it won’t necessarily translate to bequests. It’s not because your donors aren’t the will-writing kind. That may be true for some of them, but there are other simple ways to leave a legacy accessible to all. Donor willingness is not the problem.
Key: Your Willingness to Prioritize Building a Legacy Giving Program
No charity succeeds simply waiting by the phone for folks to call. You’ll receive a bequest or two, perhaps. But nowhere near what you could receive if you took the bull by the horns and created a program that speaks to why people make legacy gifts.
There are two main reasons: (1) they’re asked, and (2) it feels meaningful to do so. So, given this, what do you incorporate into your program? What if I told you there’s a way to take charge of your own destiny, as you simultaneously help donors take charge of theirs?
STEP #1: Figure out a strategy to get folks thinking of you as a recipient of their philanthropic largess after death. There are elements to include in a full-fledged legacy giving program, and I’ve written about that plenty (e.g., see here and here).
STEP # 2: Help donors connect their giving to their personal identity and meaning. People may believe you’re awesome. But when it comes to distributing the hard-earned income accrued over a lifetime, they just don’t think of you that way. As an extension of their family, deepest values and essential identity. This is where many nonprofits fall down on the job, and it’s what I want to discuss today.
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