NEWS FLASH: Most of your supporters don’t really want to be in your legacy society

But, oddly, that’s the first thing fundraisers offer legacy gift prospects and those who have disclosed their legacy gift intentions. 
The next most popular offer is a pin.

I think these offers are pretty lame. Most of your supporters don’t really want to be in your legacy society. And they didn’t leave your organization in their will to get a pin.

So what do they want? Here’s a good list for starters:

  • A sense of community
  • A feeling of involvement
  • A way to see first hand how their money will be used
  • A way to be honored and appreciated so they can feel like a hero in their own life story
  • A way to commemorate or memorialize someone who inspired them
  • An opportunity to share why they care and tell their story
  • A “thank you” every once in a while
  • An invitation to have lunch perhaps

Can you think of some other reasons why they’d want to be in your Legacy Society?
If so, use those reasons to create offers that provide your supporters with value and make them feel good. Then they will want to be in your Legacy Society after all.

>> The Biggest Fundraising Mistake Non-Profits Make

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Dave Bonfilio
7 years ago

If all they get is a pin, I agree. Here we list them in our annual report. They receive their own copy right from the printer. They also receive a copy of our puppy calendar (usually sold through our on-line gift shop). I get many calls and notes about the calendar. Finally, we do small receptions throughout the country. These receptions contain information not widely disseminated and an opportunity to ask questions. The invitee list includes select major donors and a graduate or two. Because they are intimate, supporters love them.

7 years ago
Reply to  Dave Bonfilio

Great job Dave. Glad to hear you’re doing it right! I hope others read your comment.

Chris Morton
7 years ago

It was much easier many years ago to entice legacy prospects to join a legacy society. My experience is that more than two thirds of our bequests come from people who have not self identified as planned gifts.
Our current focus is to thank our planned gift donors while they are still present and can be appreciated. A legacy society also serves as a tent pole for communication to our members and programs that might be of interest. We are about to activate and name our legacy society in honor of our founder and the process will allow staff to communicate with those who have put our organization in their estate plan or are considering this option. This is the third time I have started a legacy society in the past twenty eight years, the fourth legacy society that I have utilized and the process is still the same with our generous donors and prospects.

7 years ago
Reply to  Chris Morton

Glad to hear it Chris. Not sure if you knew that we generated tons of leads for Yad Vashem (with Jonathan) about a year ago give or take.

7 years ago

I am curious if there are any organizations that go beyond simply requesting documentation of this intentions, but requiring it for any type of benefit of Legacy Society Membership.

7 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

Hi Lisa. I believe that most organizations give the benefits without making documentation necessary. Usually it’s a worthwhile “gamble” since not much can be lost for giving away those benefits. But a lot can be lost if they aren’t given away.

Marci S.
Marci S.
7 years ago

Know your market tho! We are primarily a retirement market, and we offer pins as part of our package for giving society, not legacy society. They LOVE their pins — and they get a new attachment for the pin each year indicating how long they’ve been a part of the society. However, they are primarily matures and older boomers. Probably wouldn’t work with milennials.

7 years ago
Reply to  Marci S.

Indeed. Right on Marci! I agree.

Bill Riek
7 years ago

I would agree with your point wholeheartedly if an organization is just saying thank you by putting the donor’s name on a list and forgetting them. We like to think of our Legacy as a welcome to the family.
We offer many kinds of opportunities to our Legacy members to further build a sense of community. Yes, we have the expected annual lunch and we make calls and send birthday cards (and we have a pin, lol), but we also invite our members to volunteer opportunities and other “Legacy” exclusive events. There they are able to meet like-minded individuals who care so much about our organization that they share their experiences with each other and build friendships.
I agree that most members don’t “join” a Legacy Society, they make a gift to an organization that they care about. However, I believe many CONTINUE to keep an organization in their estate plans because of the stewardship that happens through a Legacy Society. A Legacy Society is just one more tool to help deepen the relationship.

7 years ago
Reply to  Bill Riek

Thanks Bill. Yes indeed. People love to belong. We are tribal beings after all.
A sense of community with people who have common interests is powerful for building relationships and stewarding legacy gift donors.

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