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Legacy Appeals Are a Different Breed

Nonprofits often promote legacy giving in different ways. For example, special newsletters mailed periodically to both prospects and those who have declared themselves, occasional letters specifically promoting bequests sent to the most likely legacy donors, legacy clubs or societies that celebrate those donors who have committed to leaving legacies, information about legacy giving on the nonprofit’s website and recognition at special events and in annual reports.

However, we think the most effective promotional efforts, regardless of the medium used, have the following 4 features:

  1. They emphasize bequests rather than planned gifts that are usually of interest only to the wealthiest of donors.

  2. They stress the organization’s mission and vision, not on the mechanics involved in leaving a legacy. At best, legal and accounting information are only mildly interesting. For many, it is a turnoff.

  3. The request to declare a legacy gift typically notes that going public shows leadership by providing an example to other donors.

  4. The primary purpose of most legacy giving promotions is not to secure a legacy commitment by return mail (or on the phone or by e-mail): rather, it is to engage the donor in a dialogue that, in the future, may result in a commitment. Leaving a legacy requires a major commitment-financially and psychologically. Many donors take a very long time to think about this idea.

How are you doing with legacy appeals. Please share a success story.

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