Four Ways to Turn Life Events into Legacy Gifts

Four Ways to Turn Life Events into Legacy Gifts

Have you been celebrating any graduates or happy couples in the last weeks? This time of year is full of life transitions—the start of new marriages, young adults setting off on new careers, teens embarking on more independent lives, even kindergarteners graduating into elementary school. Others are looking forward to long-planned trips or anniversary celebrations. Change is in the air! 

Most estate planning is prompted by life transitions or changes in circumstance, often unpredictably. When something shifts, whether it’s something to celebrate like a birth or a wedding, or something more difficult, like a frightening diagnosis or the loss of a loved one, people find themselves thinking about the long-term goals of their lives. 

Now is the time to get donors thinking about making your organization a part of their legacy! Keep that message in front of them so that when life changes come around, the idea is already planted in their minds.  

Get the word out! Donors report that the #1 prompt for new legacy gifts is the messaging they receive from the charitable organizations they support. Maximize this opportunity to get to the heart of their concerns, both in print and online. Sneak it into every sort of content you distribute. Newsletters, websites, social media posts, appeal letters, thank-you notes and even receipts can point donors toward legacy planning.  

How do you do that? Here are some suggestions:

1. On the simplest end, it’s as easy as adding an “I’d like information on including your organization in my will” checkbox to your response device. While this is not the most effective way, it costs nothing, and it’s one of the most direct ways to find folks you might have missed on wealth screenings or in managed donor portfolios. How can they say yes if you never ask? 

2. Include content on your website and in your publications that will inspire your donors to think about what kind of legacy they will leave behind and how organizations they love can be part of it. You can even use our free message piece in your next mailing or website update. We produce eight versatile messaging packages per year for our customers so they can keep that message in front of their donors. Continuing to put the message in front of your donors might just resonate with the right donor at the right time.

3. Testimonials! Include testimonials, not only from people who have been on the receiving end of your work, but also from those on the giving end. Do you know someone who has included your organization in their legacy plan? Ask them if they are willing to share the reason behind that. Share that story in your publications or maybe they would be open to speaking about it at a fundraiser or legacy society event. Hearing about one person’s generosity will often prompt similar generosity in others. 

4. Keep an open conversation. Stay in touch with your donors, not just the biggest ones, to keep the relationship growing and thriving. You can do this through periodical check-in calls or notes, or you can use a survey-based automated conversation with a large number of your donors that will give you insight into what matters most to them.  

While you want to get the legacy message out, you don’t want to overwhelm your donors with terms and techniques. Most mid-level donors have the capacity to give through the will, but they aren’t necessarily tax specialists or legal analysts. Inspire them to think about their legacy, but leave the will-writing to their attorneys. They are much more likely to move forward if they don’t feel overwhelmed by work they don’t know how to do. 

So commence with those commencements and ring the wedding bells! Bring on the baby showers! And help your donors remember that all these exciting new changes are part of the legacy they have been building all their lives.