Are You Using Legacy Giving in Year-End Fundraising?

Using Legacy Giving can increase annual gifts.

Using Legacy Giving can increase annual gifts.

This is one of the busiest times of your year – it is likely loaded with galas, year-end direct mail appeals and email campaigns, staff campaigns (and, throw a Board meeting or retreat in there as well). 

While I tend to thrive in being overextended, and the year end is where you will do some of your most important, and lucrative, work let’s not lose sight that you can plant the seeds of legacy giving to get current gifts to the annual appeal as well as pave the way for future gifts.

You are in luck – you can insert legacy giving ideals and methods without creating a whole new campaign during this crunch time. 

And bonus points – using these tips may lead to larger gifts and better engagement as you are providing your donors with options that may suit them to make a year end gift and opening them up to using planned giving vehicles as a way to make a gift.

Before you insert a legacy message in your year end fundraising, think about what you want to accomplish.

Is your goal to raise legacy awareness?  Then perhaps you want to plant seeds to grow over time.  This message would not conflict with raising current funds for your annual campaign but perhaps warm people up for a future legacy gift. 

Is your goal to educate your donors about legacy giving? 

This would fall between raising awareness and actually asking for a gift.  This way by using marketing you can share a testimonial about a type of legacy gift that another donor made.  If you are leaning towards awareness, you can make it a long-range gift, such as bequest.  Looking to raise some money now, if they time is right for your donor, talk about endowment or gifts of appreciated assets.

Is your goal to raise current funds now by utilizing a legacy gift vehicle? 

Think of these as trip-wire gifts.  If a donor is comfortable making this type of gift, they may be more likely to create more of them.

1.    Donor advised funds – encourage your donors to make their gift to you from their existing DAF.  They can either recommend a distribution from the DAF to the organization when they have already received their charitable deduction or you can suggest that they “bunch” and add a larger gift into their fund to cover all their charitable gifts for this year and next (in order to reap the benefits of the new tax law, if it applies to them) and to them suggest a distribution from the DAF to your organization.  [you can even ask them to front load next year’s gift now if that makes sense for them and you; or ask for the gift in January – just no pledges please!  DAF distributions may not fund a legally enforceable pledge.

2.    Appreciated assets – yes, the market is in a correction right now, but last I looked it was up this year.  Certainly it may be a tax-wise way of giving for some of your donors.  Interestingly many people still don’t know that they can give charitable gifts through securities – go ahead and let your donors know about this method of giving to you.  You know that they will save on capital gains, but they may not know this important piece of information.  It happens to be one of the most advantageous benefits of giving to charities – go ahead and let them know.

Maybe you are now saying, but wait Lori, wouldn’t these go into the annual campaign?

Certainly, if that is what your gift acceptance and other policies indicate.  There is nothing wrong about using quasi-planned giving techniques to bring in funds to the annual fund. In fact, using these other gift vehicles are beneficial to your donor as well as the organization. 


For more tips please join the closed Facebook group of nonprofit professionals interested in maximizing legacy giving – click here to join