Here's why you should remove the word "bequest" from your vocabulary

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

The word bequest sucks when it comes to generating planned gift revenue. Stop using it. Here’s why:

  1. No one uses this word with their family and friends so you shouldn’t use it with your donors… they won’t “get it”
  2. It reminds people about death and nothing scares people away from making planned giving decisions faster than thoughts about death
  3. Dr. Russell James’ research found that it increases the likelihood that donors will never be interested in a planned gift and decreases their interest in considering a planned gift as an option for supporting your mission


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Single worst word -- bequest

4 responses to “Here's why you should remove the word "bequest" from your vocabulary”

  1. doug bouws says:

    I agree. The first time I heard the word “bequest” used in a planned gift setting, I had to ask my partner if my understanding of the term was correct! The term is not obvious to many people.

  2. Indeed.
    But, what word schould we use instead?
    Can we use the word “donation”?
    In french, I use : don (donation) or legs (legacy) or succession or patrimoine (inheritance).

    Thanks for your input!


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