Legacy Party - Oh Yeah!

Legacy donors are special. You know you should be thinking more about them, right?

By Karen Uffelman | July 27, 2016 |
Image by Franklin Heijnen, "DSCF3304.jpg" is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

You have your grassroots donors and your members. Those folks are good.

You have your monthly donors. Monthly donors are great. (Data tells us that monthly donors continue to give on a monthly basis for an average of 7 years…making that donor = to a major donor for many organizations.) More on them soon.

Speaking of major donors, we love them.

But legacy donors…legacy donors are special. You know you should be thinking more about them, right?

So many of our clients are doing the kind of hard work that takes years. Issues like achieving racial and gender equity, eliminating poverty, combating climate change…we’re not going to solve any of those things next month. But as a supporter of your organization and the difficult issues you work to address, I can make a long-term impact through a legacy gift. And because the majority of nonprofit donors tend to be older, talking to me about my legacy if I’m an existing donor is not strange. Legacy is likely something I’m thinking about in general, if not specifically in regard to your organization.

Where do you find these potential legacy donors in the first place? Donors age 65 and above are a good place to start, but many people who leave legacy gifts to nonprofits never gave during their lifetimes to the organizations they include in their estates. Length of supporter’s involvement with a nonprofit is the best indicator of the likelihood of a legacy gift.

So…here’s what we suggest:

Look at everyone in your engagement pyramid who is 65 and over. Of course invite your major donors in that age range to consider a legacy gift. But don’t forget those supporters who are highly engaged but not big givers. Most important are those folks at levels 3 and higher who are there because of their volunteer work, their advocacy, or other contributions of skill or time. And if any of those supporters have been involved with your work for 10 or more years, make a personal request. Invite them to legacy events and focus groups. Help your potential legacy donors understand their options for making a long-term impact on an issue they care about.

For aging donors, legacy gifts are an inspiring way to envision the future. Make sure to offer opportunities to help them envision that future with you.

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