Do you care more about your legacy society than the donors in it?

Some nonprofits seem to care about ‘having’ a legacy society far more than they care about the donors in them. 
There’s lots of evidence supporting my claim. For instance:

  • Way less than half of the people who make planned gifts notify the nonprofits in advance and many of those that do, ask to be anonymous.
  • Look online and try to determine the benefits of joining any legacy society and you’ll see that too many provide very little real, meaningful value to the donors.
  • Some just give donors a pin and a newsletter.
  • Others don’t do anything for the donors except put them on a list in the annual report (sometimes without their permission). Yipes!

I think the organizations maintaining these weak societies created them primarily for two reasons:

  1. They believe they have to create a legacy society in order to have a robust legacy giving program but they don’t understand their true purpose.
  2. They think the opportunity to join the legacy society is a major motivator. But think about it, would you change your will just to get into the legacy society or to get on a list in the annual report or on the website?  I didn’t think so.

Some do it right.

They recognize that a legacy society can be a powerful marketing tool for:

  • Encouraging supporters to disclose their legacy gift intentions.
  • Ensuring that gifts remain in the supporters’ plans.
  • Generating leads for additional legacy gifts.
  • Gaining referrals.

How do they do it?

  • They show that they sincerely care about and appreciate each donor — not just about the existence of the society.
  • They provide them with massive value.
  • They create offers for engagement and involvement.
  • They offer opportunities for them to do even more in ways they never imagined.
  • They help the donors show their friends, colleagues and peers that they are helping your organization by making the ultimate gift.
  • They make sure they feel good!


Related Posts:

>>The easiest way to grow your Legacy Society (5 super-simple steps)
>>NEWS FLASH: Most of your supporters don’t really want to be in your legacy society

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

I read the title of this post two ways, inserting a “do” at the end completely changes the meaning of the question, but it is implied in the one that you asked. Organizations that might forget that a Legacy Society is a means to an end, would do well to put more focus on the “ends” than the “means”.

Scott Talbot
3 years ago

I’ve always realized the importance of a legacy society, but I’ve struggled to find ways to create real value for the donors. Currently, we …

* Send a welcome letter, thanking the donor for the above-and-beyond gift; highlighting its (and their) extreme value to the mission; and telling them how special they are.
* Mail a series of small gifts–four in year 1, and then once per year.
* Send a birthday card and a Thanksgiving card.
* Make efforts to connect by phone and in person to remind them how much we value them.
* We would like to begin scheduling Thank You luncheons on campus.

Is there more we can do? I’d love to hear what others are doing for their legacy society members.

Get smarter with the SmartIdeas blog

Subscribe to our blog today and get actionable fundraising ideas delivered straight to your inbox!