Legacy Giving and Nostalgia

Missing Summer Already: Legacy Giving and Nostalgia

Are you feeling that end-of-summer nostalgia? Scroll through your photos—what will you remember from this summer?  

Nostalgia has a way of putting a golden hue on everything, highlighting the best times and deemphasizing the harder moments. It also makes us feel sentimental, creating warm feelings toward the people and places we remember. 

Disney gets this. According to Janet Wasko in her book Understanding Disney, “Disney never misses a chance to celebrate an anniversary of its characters, films, parks, and other company businesses…These celebrations often include special theme-park events and promotions, television specials, and a wide array of merchandise, and they also draw on consumers’ nostalgia and memories.” 

The good memories and experiences are part of the legacy we build over a lifetime. Your donors are also building legacies. How can their legacies intersect with your organization? 

1. Celebrate Volunteers 

Volunteers have given their time and energy, and probably some money, to bring your mission to life. The good memories from the work they have been involved in and the people they get to know while they do it translate to good feelings toward your organization and a desire to see it continue to grow. Celebrate them with an event or social time. Invite your executive director to tell stories of volunteers who made a difference and be sure to allow the opportunity for attendees to make a planned gift to build on that legacy. 

2. Tell Success Stories 

This might seem obvious, but organizations working to make change in the world often focus so much on the need at hand that they forget to share the “wins.” Tell your donors about the good things that are happening, and make sure they understand that they have helped make that happen! Personal notes or calls are a great way to do this when possible, because they connect donors to the good work, making them a part of the history and legacy of the organization. 

3. Inspire With Role Models 

Canopy Resources is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We have a world-class attraction, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, right in our backyard. Frederik and Lena Meijer, a couple who became wealthy from a family-owned chain of stores, answered the call to fund a dream from our local horticultural society. Certainly the Meijers are a model of philanthropy that has changed a community. But their foundation knows that donors with smaller estates are still important, and they strive to give role models for those people as well, with profiles of legacy givers on their foundation website. These stories touch on things that many other donors would have experienced at the gardens, bringing warm feelings of community and nostalgia to the forefront. 

4. Plan a Reunion 

If your organization has alumni (higher ed, community organizations with training programs, etc.), bring them together to celebrate important milestones and anniversaries. Many of you already do that. When you do, don’t miss the opportunity to turn that history into future legacy giving! Those gatherings will remind your alumni of the important part you played in their history, and they can be nudged into thinking about how they can play a part in someone else’s story too. 

These are just a few ways that you can tap into nostalgia and history to help donors see that they are part of your story while reminding them that your organization can be part of their legacy. Don’t let the memories fade! If you’d like to know more about helping donors build their legacy, contact us today!