3 Must Have Legacy Gift Options

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The 3 Must Have Legacy Giving Options [if you want to raise more money].

Are you of the mindset that just about any legacy gift coming your way is good?  Are you asking for any and all types of legacy gift from your donors?

You can love lots of different types of gift but should focus on promoting just a few.

But, you may be asking, isn’t it better to be flexible and take any gift that the donor may want to give?

Surprisingly, no.  

By focusing on marketing just a few types of gifts you create focus for your donor and less confusion.  The human mind works best when having just a few choices.  If there are too many choices for your donors, the reaction is confusion and the result is the donor turns his or her attention away.  And then – no gift! 

If you have a robust program offering lots of planned giving choices and it works for you, don’t fix what is not broken.  However, if you want to niche down and truly focus your donors’ attention on a few key choices that can bring value to you and them, read on.

If you haven’t ventured into the planned giving program space yet, let’s go through 3 options to provide to your donors PRONTO.


Hello, my lovely gift vehicle that stands the test of time.  Yes, this gift is number one for a variety of reasons.  First, most people either know what an endowment is, of have heard of them.  Hey – isn’t this something that only the big universities and hospitals have?  Nope!  Lot’s of organizations have them, and you should too.  Here is why – they restrict funds to grow over time and spin off income to support your general operations or specific programs.  Your hands are somewhat tied, in a good way.  Meaning you can’t dip into these funds and spend them at your discretion unless the endowment agreement stipulates that condition.  This is a good thing!  Your organization and board still need to work on raising current funds but with the knowledge that a growing endowment will provide some budget relief or allow flexibility in programming. 

Bonus is that endowment gifts are relatively simple to close.  Just make sure you steward your donors to let them know what their endowment is supporting for the future. 

Planting the seed for a legacy gift.

Planting the seed for a legacy gift.


There is a reason why most planned gifts in the United States take the form of a bequest – they are simple to include in the donors’ wills.  When the donor is doing their estate planning and directing where they want their assets to go after their lifetime they can also simply ask their attorney to include a bequest (or many) to organizations they care about.  Here are some of the potential issues – not everyone has a will; some people that have a will already don’t want to go back to their attorney to change it; some donors want to see their gift “in action.”

Even with those possible objections, after the first choice of endowments it is still a fantastic gift option for just about everyone (and maybe it will even prompt those that don’t have a will to go speak with an attorney and get their planning in order!) Read here for more information about bequests.

Psst!  Bequests are usually revocable, meaning that as easy as the donors added you to their will, they can just as easily remove you.  You may not see a realized endowment for many years so stewardship is key to make certain your donor feels appreciated and invested for the long term (and that you don’t lose the gift). 

Appreciated Securities

Gift option number three is really a quasi-legacy gift.  Yes, it requires some thought, planning and a gift other that simply writing out a check or an online donation, but a straight gift of appreciated assets will usually go straight to the annual campaign (which it should, so no argument here).  I include it on this list because I think many organizations do a lukewarm job of promoting the benefits of appreciated securities.  It is an overlooked asset to donate that can provide tax benefits to the donors.  In addition, donors can use these types of assets to do even more sophisticated planning, if you want to get all fancy like that. 

Do your donors, and your organization, a favor – state everywhere you discuss donations that you accept securities.   

Tip: Make sure you have the proper accounts set up to accept these transfers, and you have you stock transfer info handy when donors contact you (because when they do, they want to do it immediately depending on the financial markets!)

Have you been promoting these gifts?  I would love to hear what is working best for you.  Hop into our private Facebook group to connect with your peers to see what they are doing.

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