In the world of fundraising, a legacy gift is valued as the pinnacle of giving. It is the coveted brass ring for many charities.  Because of this, we have a tendency to put our legacy donors on a pedestal. A very high one. We treat our legacy donors as the incredible humans that they are and for their selflessness of leaving a gift for which they may never know or see the true impact. It takes a special kind of person to leave a legacy gift.

But let’s be frank, most legacy donors are usually unaware of their superstar status (in fact they’re usually modest to a fault).  And many a legacy donor, while flattered, doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. In their mind, their gift is a reflection of their own deepest values and the fanfare is certainly not a motivator for the gift.

And that, is a lost opportunity.

The Missed Opportunity…

Why? Because sometimes we focus on our appreciation for our donor so much, that we miss the opportunity to really get to know them and offer them the opportunity to get to know themselves better. Yes, they’ll always be superstars to us, but it’s not about us, it’s about them.

I have the distinct privilege of speaking with legacy donors on behalf of clients. Our mission is to write an autobiographical account so that others are prompted to reflect back on their own motivations.

Our conversations often wander back to childhood and upbringing, what kind of person they were in high school, who their friends were, what their aspirations were in life. It’s a deep dive conversation to capture the essence of an individual. And perhaps one of the most surprising revelations is that the donor starts to see a pattern and appreciation for how their own life took shape.

The Gift We Can Offer Legacy Donors…

How often do you do a retrospective meander through your life history? I’m guessing not often. But the opportunity to do one, especially later in life, can reveal some pretty interesting threads and themes that have helped shape you.

This is a gift that we can offer to our legacy donors. The gift of taking the time to really know them and allowing them the opportunity to know themselves more deeply.

I guarantee that focusing on deeper questions will lead to a more satisfying experience for your donor and a deeper connection to you and your charity.