That’s what it feels like when you receive notices of bequests. It is realistic for almost any provider to set a goal of 10 $5,000 gifts a year within three to five years of starting a simple wills and bequest program. We serve the perfect demographic for realized gifts so the statistics of needing 10 years to actually see results of a program does not apply.
Are your residents/clients remembering your organization in their wills?
Have you even asked them? Often the most important thing you can do is ask. Donors frequently say, “I never thought of that until your note on my thank you letter…” or until they read your story about someone like them leaving a gift.
Are you saying “But I doubt that many of our clients have any money to leave us?”
Do not assume they all can’t. Stories of the bus driver who left a million dollars to the hospital, or the lady who left her house to the organization that provided her with good home care, are not that uncommon. Visit Leave a Legacy to be inspired. Even someone living only on social security may have an asset like a life insurance policy or a house.
How do you start?
First your organization needs a bequest policy stating that bequests will not fund annual operating deficits. People must know that a legacy gift will do just that, remember them in perpetuity. The gift may fund something permanent such as a capital improvement or endowment.
The bequest policy should define the guidelines for types of funds and the amounts needed to set up named funds. But keep this simple!
Establish a Legacy Society.
An essential early step is to establish a society to honor those who have given in the past and who make or pledge new gifts. Even if you only have received three gifts in your organization’s history, it is a way to start. Many of our organizations were started with a legacy gift of property, a trust or a bequest. The name should inspire others.
Also very important is the fact that once donors are publically recognized, it is much less likely they will take your organization out of their plans.
The bequest program marketing plan is next.
Put a P.S. on ‘thank you’ letters for annual fund gifts. Do you know that a bequest in your will or from your IRA of $12,500 will perpetuate your generous gift of $500 in perpetuity?
Contact Freddi if you would like to explore a simple approach to establishing a wills and bequest legacy program or to kick start a program that is not achieving the results your organization deserves. We can work on a plan as part of your strategic work with us or as a separate project.