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

3 responses to “Do you care more about your legacy society than the donors in it?”

  1. Scott says:

    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”.

  2. Scott Talbot says:

    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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get smarter with the SmartIdeas blog

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