The Easy Planned Gift

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What is an Easy Planned Gift?

Complex gift planning can be fun, if you are into that sort of thing. 

There are lots of factors involved, like the donor, his/her family and advisors, potentially complicated estate planning and assets. 

Not only can these gifts get your synapses jumping but also time consuming, overwhelming and sometimes not bear the same fruit as a simple planned gift. 

Why not make it easy?

You can reach the same goal of both an impactful gift to your organization and a very happy and engaged donor by using simple gift plans. 

Also, when you are working with lots of moving parts, aging donors and potentially revocable gifts, your best bet is to close these gifts swiftly with the least amount of frustration for you, your donor and your organization.

So what is this magic gift?  I am going to go with the bequest. 



1.              Most donors understand the concept

You need to do a lot less education of this concept to your donors because in my experience most people understand what a bequest, or a gift in their will, is.  Tip: Use language that the donors will understand – while many people know what a bequest is (especially us lawyers) it can be technical and put off some people.  Better to use language such as “gift in your will” or “gift through your estate plan.” 

2.              Most donors have a will (or will plan to have one)

There is a reason why charitable gifts via bequests account for the majority of planned gifts – most people have a will (or should, but don’t get me started on that!). 

It is the most common estate planning tactic, and is usually created not with charitable planning in mind, but with what to do with one’s bounty when they pass on, how funeral costs and estate taxes should be paid, and who should receive which particular items. 

When the individual is giving directives of which tangible items and assets should do to which family members and friends, it is the perfect place to remember the causes the person believed in and to support them into the future. 

I get a sense that most attorneys when interviewing their clients on distributing their assets are not asking which charities the person may want to include. 

This is why it is very important for the nonprofits to have the conversations with their donors, include it in their marketing and provide the tools necessary to make it easier for the donor to create a gift in their will, such as providing sample bequest language.  Make it as easy as possible for your donors to make a planned gift.

3.              It is easy to process

Once you receive a notification of a bequest (such as through a notice of probate) these gifts tend to be easy for the organization to process and record. 

Much of the work is done through the estate attorney or executor.  Depending on the complexity of the estate, the estate administration may be protracted or go into litigation – but most often this had nothing to do with the charity (likely a disgruntled family member) so you need to sit tight and wait things out (certainly, let your counsel know what is going on and determine if any action on your part is necessary).

Every organization should start out with a legacy giving program that promotes bequests and keep its options open for other potential planned gifts.  Read here for more information about bequests.

Are you asking for bequest gifts? 

Join the conversation with your peers to see what they are doing.