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

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

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doug bouws
doug bouws
7 years ago

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.

7 years ago
Reply to  doug bouws

Thanks Doug. Clearly you are not alone.

Sylvie Laflamme
4 years ago

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!


Barry Kearney
Barry Kearney
2 years ago

Hi Greg
Just looking at Bequests for my church giving campaign.

I clearly understand issue with understanding it, did wonder. You mention Giving in Will but also say the whole concept turns people off giving altogether.

So is that your advice – don’t mention it at all. Cheers Barry

1 year ago

Hey Barry,

Do you have a link to Russell James’ research that specifically discusses the word bequest?

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