When it comes to legacy gifts, most fundraisers spend too much time focused on uncovering hidden gifts or closing more of them.
Sure, it’s important to find out who planned a secret gift and to inspire donors to make them. But, believe it or not, closing these kinds of gifts is just the beginning of the fundraising process, not the end. That’s because most legacy gifts are revocable and many people change their plans near the end of their lives. In other words, the trick is to make sure your supporters never change their minds.
Don’t just send ’em a pin!
Now that you know they’ve planned the ultimate gift for your organization, it’s imperative that you steward the relationship in a meaningful way for the rest of their lives.
Here are my best practices for you to consider employing in your communications:
- Survey them! – There’s simply no better way to cost-effectively conduct donor discovery.
- Prioritize them. – You only have so much time and since 80% of your legacy gift dollars will come from 20% of your legacy society members, you must determine who has the capacity to give more.
- Be relevant. – Now that you understand them (thanks to the survey), you should use the information they gave you about why they planned their gift, their interests and their passions so you can send them communications that matter to them, not you.
- Personalize everything. – Use their names and spell them correctly! It’s just plain nice to do so and you owe them that courtesy.
- Create an Alumni feeling. – “You part of a special club and you are special because you’re in it.”
- Include testimonials. – Social proof is powerful. Don’t forget that!
- Drive them online. – Digital communications are cheap!
- Make them feel like a hero. – “You are amazing because you have planned an amazing gift that will help others in the future.”
- Prove impact. – “Here’s where your money goes (and will go).”
- Include conversion opportunities. – Make it easy for them to contact you (give them your direct phone number or email, not info@), make it easy for them sign-up for volunteer opportunities, and help them learn about and consider ways they can add to the gift they already planned.
- Finally, for goodness sake… call and visit them! Especially the ones with the most capacity. Many donors leave several organizations in their wills. If you don’t visit them, another probably will. Then the gift for your organization might disappear!
Create an ‘alumni’ feeling in your design.
Use testimonials as social proof.
Drive them online to learn more.
Make them feel like a hero
Show them where their money goes and will go (proof of impact).
>>Do you care more about your legacy society than the donors in it?
>>NEWS FLASH: Most of your supporters don’t really want to be in your legacy society