Usually when I blog, I rant on about a subject that’s important to me. A subject that I hope is important to you too.

But this time, I’m going to step aside and give the platform to someone who deserves to be listened to more carefully – and much more often. That person is your donor.

For eleven years now, I’ve been listening very carefully to donors from all types of charities and sectors talk about how they want to communicate with you about legacy giving. The first – and most important – point is that they’re absolutely open to having the legacy conversation.

They just want to have that conversation on THEIR terms – and not yours.

So – without further ado – your donor has something to tell you about what she wants – and doesn’t want – from you when it comes to talking about bequests.


  • To hear from other donors and supporters like her who have made bequests already. Why did they make these gifts? What do these gifts mean to them? How do they feel about the bequest and the charity that’s going to receive it someday?
  • To feel very secure in the knowledge that you manage donated dollars wisely and carefully.
  • You to give her a picture of how her bequest could be used when the time comes – and that time could be 10, 15 or 20 years from now in most cases.
  • To FEEL something! She wants to feel proud of her gift decision when she makes it. She wants to feel optimistic about the footprint she’s going to leave on the world when she’s gone. She wants to feel that her bequest has added purpose and meaning to her life.
  • To know that the people she’s giving the bequest to share her BELIEFS and values.
  • TIME to make the right decision. She wants an old-fashioned courtship – not a one-night stand!


  • Instruction on HOW to make a bequest. She either already knows or has someone in her corner who can show her how. (This isn’t the fundraiser’s job.)
  • To be offered all kinds of recognition and publicity. She just wants the satisfaction of doing the right thing and being a good human being.
  • To be pestered too much – or asked if she’s made the gift too soon. This is a deal-breaker way more often than we fundraisers know.
  • To feel PRESSURED in any way. She needs to sort out how to provide for her family AND make the bequest. She needs to decide if she wants to make the bequest to you – or to somebody else. She needs to feel sure when she sits down with her lawyer. We must give her that time and space.

Healthy donor relationships – like all relationships – depend very much on good communications. And, my friends, half of communications is listening. Your donor has just spoken to you. You would be very wise to pay her heed.

Until next time…