When organizations are planning their year-end appeals the first thing that they think of is raising money, now. Of course, that makes sense since many donors are conditioned to give their annual gifts by December 31st every year. Some organizations bring in the majority of their funds through their year-end appeals. But – are they leaving potential funds behind because they are not including legacy giving?
Legacy giving is considered the donor’s ultimate gift that supports the future of the organization. A legacy gift can take many different forms depending on the donor’s financial and philanthropic situation and planning. What makes the gifts similar is the underlying intent and donor values behind the gift. For example, two separate donors could want to support the same organization’s future and go on to create two very different gifts, such as a current endowment or deferred charitable gift annuity.
In order to include legacy giving in your year-end appeal first ask yourself, do you want to raise awareness and cultivate your donors, or do you want to solicit them for legacy gifts at the year-end? Once you know your objective then it is quite simple to plan how to include legacy in your appeals.
If you want to introduce the concept of legacy giving and create a culture around it start with stories, testimonials, and quotes from donors. Adding personal stories will accomplish two things – educate the donor about gift options in an illustrative way that they can relate to and create social proof that you accept legacy gifts and that other donors trust you to create these gift vehicles for your benefit. You can add legacy giving messaging to your e-signature, in your direct mail, and as a buck slip. Add legacy stories to areas that are highly visible, such as your website.
If you want to ask for legacy gifts at year-end be certain to not distract your donors but offer options for them to make their annual gift in a better manner for them, such as by using securities or donor-advised funds. Using these gateway gift vehicles sets your donors up to get used to giving in different ways and allows your organization to accept different forms of assets and gift vehicles.
Ask for gifts that the donors are able to transfer with limited planning and that would benefit from year-end tax planning. Even if they can’t use the potential charitable tax deduction, it creates a sense of urgency and a deadline to close the gift. For example, now would not be a good time to ask for a gift that requires an attorney to draft, such as a bequest or trust, or to try to cultivate a major gift that would require a long-term donor engagement.
On the flip side, there are times when it may not be the right time to promote legacy giving. If your organization is going through a major shift in leadership or mission, or if you are in the middle of another campaign you are promoting adding another giving option for your donors may be confusing to them.
If you haven’t asked for legacy gifts in the past, year-end appeals are the perfect time. If you are not ready to go all out with your entire appeal, query a smaller group of potential legacy prospects and test the messaging then.
Guest Author: Lori Kranczer, Esq., Founder and Principal Consultant, Everyday Planned Giving, LLC
Questions about Legacy Giving?
Lori Kranczer, Esq.