Random Thoughts on Life and Work

March 18, 2015

Stewarding the Legacy Donor

Filed under: Non-Profit — Darren Mullenix @ 7:36 am

Current donors tend to receive all of the attention. After all, they are “active” and their gift(s) is useful today. The legacy gift won’t be useful until sometime in the future.  Yet, the legacy donor – the donor who makes their ultimate gift to your organization – might be your most committed, connected, and valuable donor. As with all other donors, the more you know the donor and the deeper your relationship, the easier the stewardship process becomes.

So how do you go about recognizing the legacy donor and their commitment to your organization? Here are five steps to consider:

  1. The first and obvious question is – do you know who your legacy donors are? There may be many donors on your file who have designated you in their will or estate plan and not yet told you. The first step then is to regularly ask your donors to self-identify.
  2. Recognize that legacy donors are making the ultimate gift to your organization. You are important enough to them that they are ensuring that their final wishes include you. When a legacy donor is identified, send them a PERSONALIZED acknowledgement.
  3. Provide your legacy donors with an insider contact. This can be challenging for smaller organizations, but it will pay dividends. This doesn’t require that you have a formal planned giving/legacy development office – just a relational individual who is willing to answer questions or provide information and learn more about the donor as the conversations continue.
  4. At least once a year make contact with this group of donors. This contact doesn’t have to be intensive but the more personal you can make it, the better. This contact can range from a personalized letter from the CEO to a special report about some aspect of your organization.
  5. Finally, when the gift matures (the donor passes), effectively managing the relationship with the executor/attorney/personal representative will build goodwill for your organization. Remember to acknowledge the gift to survivor family members praising the generosity of the donor. Handle this with care though as family may not be so supportive.

Spending a little bit of time to encourage legacy giving and establishing a process of relating to this group of donors will pay dividends in (continued) current giving and potential ambassadorship on behalf of your organization. Use these simple steps as a launch pad for your own organization.

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