Do you have a planned giving section on your website? If you do, does it even start to reflect the donor’s ACTUAL pathway on the route to a legacy gift decision?

I’ve looked at lots of legacy sections on websites – and almost all of them FAIL completely to help the donor move along her own natural path to making a positive gift decision.

So what is that path? And, how do you organize your site to help the donor make her decision journey?

Let’s take a walk down that path – and examine the steps along the way…

  1. The first issue the donor needs to deal with is whether a bequest (to anybody) is the right choice for her. You want to open with a discussion of the types of people who make bequests – and their reasons for making them.
  2. Next, you want to talk about your cause (NOT your organization) as a suitable recipient of a legacy gift. Whether your cause is poverty, animal welfare or the environment, you need to talk about the cause first – because it’s the cause the donor cares most about.
  3. Now, you can talk about yourself. You want to present your organization as the best vehicle for the donor to perpetuate her support for the cause in the years to come.
  4. Next, you want to pre-empt the two donor objections: namely ‘But I need to take care of my family’ and ‘I thought this was something only wealthy people do’.
  5. Now – and only now – you can get into some of the HOW of legacy giving. I like to encourage residual and percentage (over fixed amount) gifts here. The key here is to make it feel EASIER to make a bequest than the donor had previously thought.
  6. Last, demonstrate that you’re available to answer questions and provide more information. Give the donor a person’s name, postal address, phone number and email address – and encourage the donor to contact you if she wants to.  Two keys here are to promise confidentiality/discretion and that you won’t initiate unwanted phone calls and visits.

KEY TIP! You can and should use storytelling all the way along this path. Donor profiles, testimonials and stories can illustrate how others followed the same path, dealt with the same issues and came to a positive gift decision. NOTHING communicates these messages more powerfully than stories.

So go and give your legacy site a makeover – and call me when you’re done. I’d LOVE to have a look!


Banner image credit: Susanne Nilsson from Flickr via Creative Commons