7 Reasons to Focus on “In the Will” Gifts

There is a revolution happening in fundraising today, and nonprofits that invest wisely today will be the ones who see real growth tomorrow.

WHY? Here are our top 7 reasons:

1. Urgency

The older generation provides most of the funding to nonprofit organizations, but they are retiring at a rate of 10,000 people per day. As these individuals pass away, there are simply not enough people in the next generation to replace them.

2. Wealth Transfer

Boston College first reported about the greatest wealth transfer in human history—and it’s happening right now! An estimated $59 trillion is changing hands from this generation to the next. And that money can only go to three places – heirs (kids and grandkids), government (taxes), and charity (you!).

3. Annual Fund

Industry research and our experience shows that individuals with a charity in their wills donate nearly twice as much money (and in some cases much more) in any given year than those who do not have a charity in their wills. Once they’ve included you in their wills, there are two major bonus possibilities we can explore: an “acceleration” gift (giving some or all of an estate gift now) and non-cash gifts (giving other assets such as retirement savings, real estate, business interests, life insurance, stock gifts, etc.).

4. Growth

In a recent study by Giving USA, cash donations rose just 4 percent, while legacy gifts rose 12 percent. In other words, legacy giving grew more than three times faster than cash gifts. Bottom line: the wealth transfer mentioned above is already in motion. Now is the time to position your ministry to receive a portion of this transfer.

5. Largest Gift

For most people, a legacy gift will be the largest gift they ever give—ten times more on average than all of their lifetime gifts combined! Additionally, if you cultivate your legacy givers well, the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning estimates the ultimate legacy gift you receive can increase by as much as 40 percent!

6. Prospects

One of the exciting realities about legacy giving is that everyone is a prospect—even if they’ve only given to your organization once! Anyone can leave a gift to a cause that matters to them in their wills, which is why Canopy calls legacy givers your “hidden” major donors. Your database is full of people who are making very small gifts now, but can make a very big gift later. Many of these people don’t give simply because they’ve never been asked—but we know how affective approaching them with the right message and “ask” can be in bringing them out into the light.

7. Values

A legacy gift is the ultimate expression of what someone truly values. When someone looks at their entire lifetime of hard work and savings, and gives a portion to a particular charity, it says a lot about that person and the values they want to pass on to the next generation. If any of the above rings true with you, you have two options: do nothing or do something. If you choose to do something, remember that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago—the second best time is today!