5 of 10 Ways To Get Started With Legacies

Last week, the wonderful folks over at FundraisingEverywhere organized Small Charity Week. During the week, fundraisers in small

Last week, the wonderful folks over at FundraisingEverywhere organized Small Charity Week. During the week, fundraisers in small shops had the opportunity to schedule a free 30-minute chat with fundraising experts. It was great fun to connect with small charity fundraisers from around the globe and the conversations we had were enlightening.

It’s been 4.5 years since I’ve worked in a small charity – there are days where I miss it terribly and others, well not so much! But after several chats one thing remains the same: starting a legacy program with few resources is challenging.

So to all those of you working hard in a small shop, this week’s post is for YOU! While it’s understandable to think that big organizations have it much easier for various reasons, working in a small charity has its advantages: no endless bureaucracy, oftentimes quick decision-making, relative autonomy, capacity to immediately see the impact of your work, and so on. The point is, as you are thinking of how to start your legacy program, consider that some of the following suggestions may be easier for you to put in place.

Let’s get started …

1 – Build your mini army

Building your social capital by demonstrating how legacies can help the organization will play a vital role in ensuring the success of your legacy program. To do so, you need to find your allies. Internal allies can be the Director of Finance, the Board Chair, the Board Finance Chair, etc. External allies can be individuals in the community that can support your legacy plans such as a major donor or a philanthropist, allied professionals (attorney, notary, financial advisor, etc.). These allies will help you build your case for legacy investment (see my free webinar on this topic) and provide you with advice when needed.

2 – Deep dive into your CRM

To build a solid legacy pipeline you must identify the best prospects. It doesn’t matter whether you have 300 donors or 30,000. You also don’t need a fancy propensity model to identify prospects but at a minimum, look for donors who have the following characteristics:

  • Over the age of 55
  • Long time donors
  • Monthly donors
  • Usually women with education degrees
  • High engagement (i.e.: attends events, donates regularly, reads your newsletters, etc.)

3 – Spruce up that legacy website (or create one!)

The first thing a prospective legacy donor will do is visit your website so make it easy for them to find the information they need to write or update their will. To learn more about what your web page should have, read this recent blog. At a minimum, your page should:

  • Have inspiring web copy
  • Provide sample bequest and codicil language
  • Create a simple form to download documents so you can capture their information and then follow up with them
  • If possible, partner up with a digital will writing service

4 – Sprinkle legacy dust (as Jen Love of Agents of Good says!)

I am one of those weird people that doesn’t believe in needlessly developing legacy materials until you are ready to go full on to promote your program. Instead, do an inventory of what communications are sent to donors and then see where you can sprinkle that legacy dust. As your program evolves and you reach the point where you are ready to proactively solicit legacy gifts, then you should develop new marketing materials. Until then, consider the following:

  • Include a legacy message in your appeal’s P.S.
  • Include a legacy buck slip in your annual appeal
  • Add a tick off box on donation slips or online giving page

5 – Inspire through stories

People connect to stories, not facts. Tell stories of lives that were changed thanks to legacy gifts, share pledgers’ reasons for leaving a legacy – basically show why legacies are important NOT how to leave a legacy. To create storytelling magic:

  • Collect testimonials
  • Capture photos with a focus on people’s eyes
  • Share stories of living and past legacy donors
  • It’s not about the fiscal advantages of legacies (so don’t lead with that!)

This is only 5 of the 10 things you can do to get started with legacy fundraising. Do you have to do every single thing? No but pick one, whichever will allow you to have a quick win and then build from there. Then, come back next week when I share the last 5 tips.

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