How Your Nonprofit Can Encourage Legacy Gifts

Legacy gifts can help leave a positive mark on the communities they are a part of. 

Some people tend to shy away at the thought of legacy giving but it needs to be talked about. These incredibly thoughtful gifts offer an opportunity to leave a lasting impact on their community and contribute to something greater than themselves. 

It can be difficult to think about mortality but looking at it as a positive can lead to important and meaningful conversations with your donors. 

What Is A Legacy Gift? 

A legacy gift is a planned donation that some will add to their will, gifting part of their estate to a nonprofit. These gifts allow donors to create a lasting bond with the nonprofits with missions that resonate deeply with them. Legacy gifts give donors the opportunity to support their favourite charities in a way they couldn’t during their lifetime. 

How to Talk To Your Donors About Legacy Gifts 

Be Active In Speaking About Planned and Legacy Gifts 

Bringing up legacy giving does not have to be difficult, you can casually mention it throughout your direct marketing: in your email signatures, on your websites or on social media. The most important part is creating avenues for those conversations with donors and creating a positive image around legacy gifts. 

Try to center messages around the emotional benefits rather than financial ones. For example, focus on the idea that they are able to "pay it forward for future generations”, and the incredible sense of generosity they felt from a stranger’s kindness! 

A legacy gift can create a halo effect of giving. The donation has the potential to inspire countless others! 

Prospect and Segment Your Donors 

Anyone can become a legacy donor, not just those with deep pockets.

Over the years, people's donations add up. Whether they are subscribed to your monthly giving program or a small to mid-sized donor, the key indicator is the heart connection they have to your nonprofit. 

Your job is to encourage donors to consider a legacy gift and let them know they don't have to be a millionaire to consider becoming one.

Where do you start looking? Consider contacting: 
  • Frequent donors who consistently give to your nonprofit
  • Dedicated volunteers 
  • Consistent mid-level donors
  • Clients or those who use your service 
  • Former board and staff

Simplify the Process and Focus On Stewardship 

Try to simplify your messaging by keeping everything in layman’s terms. Keep writing at a 6th-grade level and explain all aspects of the process to your donors. 

Start by explaining the most common types of legacy giving 
  • Bequests in a trust or will
  • Beneficiary designations in a retirement fund or life insurance policy 
  • An outright gift of life insurance cash value 

Creating a bequest does require your donor to consult with an attorney, but you can help them with the process by providing a template or sample for their will. If they decide against a will there are other options worth exploring, so be vocal about the different ways to leave a legacy. Some of these options require your donor to fill a form with the bank or insurance provider, which is of no additional cost to them! 

You can also have a page on your website dedicated to legacy giving and provide links, templates and other useful information for your donor to use. Let them know if they are looking to make a legacy gift you can enroll them into your Legacy Society, no proof needed! 

This is important information to know because you can create a connection and steward them accordingly. Sometimes nonprofits receive surprise legacy gifts from loyal supporters but unfortunately don't find out until after they passed. So encourage your donors to speak up!

Create a program for your legacy donors. This could include a yearly event, thanking them for their support or exclusive content that only they have access to. Invite them to tour the facility, volunteer, open houses or offer special access to events! 

Put the focus on building that relationship and treating them like family. 

How to Promote Your Legacy Giving Program 

Promote Legacy Giving In Your Communications 

Consider having a legacy gifts section on your website, posting about it on social media or mentioning it in your newsletter. Providing information about legacy giving can help donors understand the power their gift has even after they passed on. Some donors may not even know it’s an option so building awareness could really help you open the conversation. Have a check box on your digital donation forms or your direct mail return slips asking them if they have a planned gift or would like to learn more about a planned gift. 

Host workshops for estate management

Invite an estate lawyer or an expert to host a talk about wills and estate planning and promote it through your owned and paid channels. The topic of legacy giving to your organization shouldn’t be the focus, rather provide useful content.  Mention your organization as hosts or the session, then plan a series of follow-ups by email or mail to invite them to have a conversation with your team regarding a planned gift.  This is a great way to acquire new potential legacy gifts. 

Focus on the Benefits of Legacy Giving 

Let the donor know that they can continue to make a positive impact in the world even beyond their lifetime. That means having a conversation with them about the legacy they want to leave and how you can best support that. See if there is something to commemorate their donation like a plaque in their honour, or if they would like to dedicate the gift to a specific program they care about. 

Have Different Options For Legacy Gifts 

Have information available for donors on the different ways they can leave legacy gifts. They could do it by listing your organization as a beneficiary in their will or through their will or trust fund. Alternatively, they can offer financial instruments, such as pooled income funds and annuities, so there are lots of ways to give! 

Dedicate A Team Or Staff Member To It 

No matter the size of your nonprofit, you should have some sort of investment in a legacy giving program. This could mean a staff member dedicated to the efforts or having a team responsible for ensuring legacy gifts are being processed and handled correctly. 

Making a legacy gift is an incredibly thoughtful decision and should be handled with care. Your donors want to feel like their support will be appreciated well beyond their lifetime and dedicated staff can help ensure that. 

Conclusion: Make Creating A Legacy Gift Simple!

Leaving a legacy gift can be an incredibly rewarding process. If you approach the right people, they will be more than happy to create a lasting legacy with your nonprofit. 

Regardless of how you choose to set up your legacy program, you have to have a system in place to segment and steward your donors. When finding donors or volunteers to approach for these gifts you have to have a way to search and prospect every aspect of your data to find people who have a consistent track record with your organization. 

This is where Driven can help. Our tool offers a 360-degree view of your database and your constituents. Want to know how to use it to boost your legacy gift program? Talk to us at 

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By Trust Driven on

Fundraising Jul 30, 2021, 12:00 AM

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