Over the years, I’ve heard dozens of reasons why fundraisers don’t think that now is the right time to invest in their legacy giving program.
Legacy & Planned Giving Inertia
Often, the reason for not ramping up legacy gift fundraising is the fear that annual donors will stop giving once they’ve made their bequests. This concern is compounded when annual giving and planned giving are in organizational silos. In this case, the annual giving fundraiser doesn’t want to ‘lose’ her donors to the planned giving department for legacy stewardship.
The second reason that fundraisers delay on legacy fundraising is that they’re hungry for short-term cash – and they’re afraid that once the bequest is made, the donor will simply stop making annual gifts.
We now have solid evidence that donors continue to make annual gifts to their favourite charities AFTER they’ve made their bequests. Not only do they continue to give, they give significantly MORE!
Dr. Russell James at Texas Tech University is a favourite legacy giving thought leader amongst my fellow Good Workers and me. He has recently released research, after studying thousands of U.S. donors aged 50+, that tracks annual giving amounts that donors make both before and after making their bequests.
As you can see from the graph, U.S. donors give 74% MORE to charities after they’ve made their bequests. These findings are supported by the anecdotal experiences of Good Workers for many years. Our clients have told us that donors who are receiving legacy marketing (which could come in many channels like mail, email, social media, phone) start giving more frequently or giving bigger amounts.
Making Up Your Pandemic Shortfall
Many of the charities that Good Workers talk to every day have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. They can’t do special events. They can’t do face to face on the street or they’re finding major gift and corporate fundraising more challenging. James’ findings could prove part of the solution to their problems.
Almost all of the direct mail and digital clients we partner with at Good Works have had BETTER results in the first half of 2020 than they had in the first (pre-pandemic) half of 2019. When you add the Legacy Lift to the equation, your direct response program can really help to make up revenue you’ve lost in other channels.
The lesson here is simple: If you want to maximize your revenues during this pandemic, make sure to keep your mail and digital programs really active – AND, market legacy giving like there’s no tomorrow!