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Your Donors Want Symbolic Immortality… So Why Not Give It to Them?

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.

IMG_5585On her deathbed, my wife’s grandmother wrote this note.
She asked my wife to make copies of it for each of the grandchildren in the family. Of course, my wife did just that. But she didn’t stop there. She also, had it framed for each of them.
Here’s one copy. It hangs prominently in the foyer of our home so people will see it when they enter and when they leave.
 
My wife’s grandmother sought something magical and my wife was happy to oblige her.
What she wanted is what just about every single one of your supporters want: To find meaning in their lives and to share the best of themselves in a way that will enable them to live on forever in the memories of others. Otherwise known as symbolic immortality.
Your supporters want that too.
They may, in fact, plan for your organization to receive gifts in the future — after their lifetime. But what you might not know is that the feelings they get in return for their gift decisions occur while they are still alive. And they are powerful feelings.
For example, I’m sure my wife’s grandmother benefited tremendously because she could rest comfortably knowing that her message would reach and touch the hearts of each of her beloved grandchildren. I can only imagine the satisfaction and security she felt knowing that her beautiful, loving letter would ensure her spirit’s eternal life in the hearts and minds of those she loves while making an impact on her descendants for generations to come.
So why not give your supporters the same kind of opportunity? The same benefits? The same chance at receiving symbolic immortality?
Give them the opportunity to tell you what matters most in their lives? To tell you why they are who they are? To tell you what they learned over the years? To tell you how they would like to give back to others? To tell you who influenced them? And, best of all, to tell you what charities they care about enough to support after they are gone?
Your organization owes it to them to carve out a budget and to take the time to find out how they want to be remembered. How they want to live forever in the memories of others.
You should do it in a considerate, thoughtful, gentle, kind, inquisitive and endearing way. But most of all, you should do it! You owe it to them because, after all, they have been supporting your mission and contributing to your paycheck for years. You owe it to them to do for them what my wife did for her grandmother. Oh, and by the way… it IS your job to provide this kind of opportunity for your organization’s supporters.
In return for your time and effort, they will give your organization the ultimate gift— a legacy gift that far surpasses the donations they might have contributed throughout their entire lives.
They want to give your organization that gift. They really do! But they need you to give them the opportunity to do so.

You owe it to them! To call them and ask questions.

You owe it to them! To stop ONLY sending them expensive estate planning newsletters that push them to avoid the subject— because nobody likes to think about estate planning but everyone likes to think about symbolic immortality.

You owe it to them! To stop spamming them ONLY with estate planning email blasts that are irrelevant, inconsiderate, and obnoxious.

You owe it to them! To fight for a budget if one doesn’t already exist.

You owe it to them! To fight for a bigger budget if yours is currently too small (and they ALL are too small when you consider the return on investment you get from planned gift marketing done right).

You owe it to them! To realign your budget so you can spend less money but get better results— with Engagement Fundraising.

Your job is a magical one.
You have the power to give your supporters an opportunity to live forever in the minds of others while making a positive impact forever. My wife gave her grandmother that opportunity. And, because my children pass by this memento every day in our home, I am thankful she did.
You can do the same for someone too!
 

4 responses to “Your Donors Want Symbolic Immortality… So Why Not Give It to Them?”

  1. Dears,
    This is all very well but very American…Europeans mostly would get goose pimp from this talk. Many people in the Netherlands for example, don’t even want anybody to know which charity is or will be in their will; they even don’t want to mention it to the charity, they do not want any contact, any information or any relationship.
    Many other do want to receive information and want to be engaged, but not in the ways Americans are often suggesting. Do you have examples of suggestions to do and do not IN EUROPE?? I would love to read best practice from over here….

  2. Dears,
    This is all very well but very American…Europeans mostly would get goose pimp from this talk. Many people in the Netherlands for example, don’t even want anybody to know which charity is or will be in their will; they even don’t want to mention it to the charity, they do not want any contact, any information or any relationship.
    Many other do want to receive information and want to be engaged, but not in the ways Americans are often suggesting. Do you have examples of suggestions to do and do not IN EUROPE?? I would love to read best practice from over here….

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