Whether starting out a legacy program or managing an established one, it’s always difficult to have everything needed to be successful. Sometimes we need a sounding board, sometimes we need expert advice on different topics. Whatever is needed, you shouldn’t have to struggle to be successful.
That’s why establishing an Advisory Council for your legacy program can help fill that void. Their role is to be that sounding board when you simply need to validate a strategy or messaging, they can also bring their expertise to help answer specific questions (legal, financial, etc.).
As legacy professionals our expertise is relationship building with donors. Conversely, the Council should be composed of professionals that bring knowledge, expertise, and support that is complementary to our expertise. Experts such as attorneys, notaries, solicitors, life insurance specialists, financial planners, accountants, trust managers, etc.
So where are these volunteers hiding?
Start with your current Board of Directors’ networks. You may want to invite one board member to serve on the Council – this individual can be a bridge between the Board of Directors and the legacy program. Another great place to look for specialized volunteers are professional associations such as the Bar Association, Chartered Accountant or Chartered Professional Accountant, etc.
Every major city will have a Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce. Reach out to them to see if there is a volunteer matching service. You may also want to reach out to your local volunteer centre/bureau. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of asking current donors or organizational volunteers.
Current donors and volunteers who have any of the profiles listed above can become your most dedicated Council members. They’re already committed to the organization which makes them a shoo-in!
What happens next?
Write Terms of Reference for the Advisory Council
The Terms of Reference must outline the rules of engagement, objectives of the Council, responsibilities, functioning of the Council (creation, membership, terms of office, meetings) and lastly, reporting relationships.
Draft Legacy Policies
This is a great first project for the Council. Start by having an internal discussion of what types of legacy gifts the organization will accept. Agree on the terms for accepting those legacies and then set out to draft or update the organization’s legacy policies (this may be integrated with the overall Gift Acceptance Policies).
The primary purpose of Council members is to advise the legacy professionals on matters relating to their area of expertise. You may also consider using Council members as sounding boards for the development of legacy materials. That external perspective can help break through blind spots, such as internal jargon that most outside the organization may not understand.
Keep them engaged
Even if there is nothing for Council members to be actively involved with, keep them informed on how the legacy program is performing, invite them to activities and events (when events will be safe again).
If you would like a sample Terms of Reference for your Advisory Council or sample Legacy Policies, don’t hesitate to send me a quick email and I’ll happily share with you what I have. Good luck recruiting Council members!