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[VIDEO] Legacy Giving – How to Get the Right Balance for Your Donors

Join Lori Kranczer, legacy giving expert and philanthropic advisor, to go over the ways to address a donor’s interest in legacy giving and how to have a conversation that brings out what the donor values to match to the best legacy giving options for them.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Lori. I got 3:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Lori: Yeah. Let’s do it.

Steven: All right, awesome. Well, welcome, everybody. Good afternoon. If you’re watching live, and if you’re watching the recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter where you are. We are here to talk about legacy giving, specifically how to get the right balance for your donors, no matter what their age, what stage they’re in, we’re going to talk about it. Thanks for being here. I hope you all had a good holiday, Thanksgiving holiday, if you were celebrating in the States. I hope you had a good Giving Tuesday if you ran a campaign. And I’m so glad you’re all here. We’re going to have a fun hour in store for you. I’m Steven over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.

And just a couple of quick housekeeping items, just want to let you all know that we are recording this session. So if you have to leave early, maybe you get interrupted, maybe a kid bounces into your office or something like that, don’t worry, we will get you that recording later on today. I’ll send you the slides as well. You should already have the slides, if you missed them. I sent them out about an hour ago. But we’ll get everything in your hands later on today. I promise. 

Most importantly, we’d love to hear from you over the next hour or so. We’re going to save some time at the end for QA. So don’t be shy, send us your questions. There’s a chat box and a Q&A box. You can use either of those. I’ll keep an eye on both. But we’d love to hear from you. Don’t be shy. Don’t sit on those hands. If you haven’t just said hi in the chat, go for it. We’d love to know who you are. Send us a Tweet. If you want to send us questions and comments there, I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well. But we’d love to hear from you, so don’t be shy.

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, welcome. We do these webinars just about every single week. We took last week off for the holiday, but we’re back at it. We got some great sessions planned even now through the end of the year and definitely on into 2021. We love doing the webinars. But if you never heard of Bloomerang, our sort of core business is donor management software. So if you’re interested in that, or just kind of check us out, maybe you’re going to buy software here soon, visit our website and there’s all kinds of resources there. You can watch videos. You can learn about us. But don’t do that now. At least wait an hour because you’re going to get a great presentation from my buddy, Lori, here to talk about planned giving. Lori, how’s it going? You doing okay?

Lori: I’m doing great. Thank you.

Steven: This is awesome to have you. You joined us in January, which feels like eons ago, not even the same planet we’re living on. But it’s good to have you back. And, you know, you’ve been very gracious with your time. And obviously, a lot has changed since January, so we’re going to talk about those things. If you all don’t know Lori, check her out. She’s over at Everyday Planned Giving. She’s got a really awesome sort of private group where she does some coaching. We’ll get you connected to that. She was doing some Facebook lives, now she’s doing it over Zoom. You’re going to want to join that group for sure because there’s a lot awesome people in there. And Lori, I mean, she’s one of my go-to, probably my go-to for planned giving stuff. She’s done this. She’s got over 20 years of experience. She’s done, you know, the planned giving product programs, obviously. She’s trained folks and definitely knows her stuff. So I’m excited to hear from this topic. So, Lori, I’m going to stop blabbing here. I’m going to stop sharing my screen because we want to hear from you. So let’s see if we can get your slides up here.

Lori: Yeah. And let me go ahead and do that.

Steven: Oh, yeah. It looks like it’s working. Cool.

Lori: You see them?

Steven: All right. Yeah. The floor is yours, my friend.

Lori: Okay. Hi, everyone, I am going to leave my video on so you can see me. But if you have any questions, like Steven mentioned, just put them in the chat or the QA. We’ll address all the questions at the end here because really one of the things I love to do is talk about legacy giving. And today, we’re going to talk about legacy conversation at different ages and stages, different ways that you can segment your donors. But one of the things I do want to point out, we’re not going to get into all the taxes, and the technical jargon, and all that. So there’s nothing to be concerned about. You don’t have to be an expert on that. We’re going to talk about how to have that conversation.

So what you’re going to learn today is why legacy giving is important to donors, so we need to talk about that first, and also why it’s important to organizations as well, how to segment your donors to categories, and we’re going to talk about three ways today, and it’s going to be a bit of an overview, but you’ll get a good sense of how you can segment your donors to have better, deeper conversations with them about legacy in a more donor-centric way. Okay. And then, we are going to use those categories, and I’m going to show you how to optimize them for marketing and conversations with your donors.

So why is legacy giving important for donors? Well, you know, we always think, well, for the organization, it’s great because it’s a pipeline of very significant assets, allows for long-term planning, it’s built an endowment, wonderful things for the organization. But we have to think about our donors as well. So from my donor’s point of view, it’s going to talk about their values. Essentially, legacy giving is the transfer of someone’s values to an organization. So when someone is thinking about their legacy, it’s transfer of values, transfer of memories to family members, and it’s also transfer of funds. But values is the most important thing. This is the main reason why donors do a legacy gift. It’s not because of taxes. You see, I have tax and financial benefits at the end. That’s not the most important thing. Most donors, the majority of them, do it because it’s something that they want to do as it’s connected to their values.

Then it’s also important for engagement. So the more connected the donor is within an organization, especially through a legacy gift, the more engagement there is, more involved they may get. So that’s a very important thing as well. 

Legacy giving is also important because it can use different assets. So if your donors are not able to do a major gift during their lifetime, they can certainly, if appropriate, do a legacy gift once they pass. So if they own a home but they don’t have discretional income during the lifetime to give a large gift, they could always use an asset like a home, or retirement assets after they pass. So it allows them to use different assets. And I should say it’s not just for legacy afterlife, it’s also a legacy gift during their lifetime. So you can have legacy gifts or planned gifts currently, as well. So always keep that in mind, it’s about what the donor wants to do. It’s their situation. And we’re going to get to that when we talk about conversations with them.

Donors also usually would get more recognition doing a legacy gift. So when you think of the size of a building of a university, you know, that’s named after someone, that’s the type of recognition that they could possibly get. But it’s also, on a smaller scale, not just on the side of a building, it’s those smaller things that you do for your donors once they do a legacy gift, and that’s really part of the engagement and it connects some of the values. It all works together. Recognition could be something like their name on an honor roll or an annual report, small gifts, a handwritten note when it’s their birthday or the anniversary of the gift. There’s lots of little things where they get more recognition and deeper engagement. 

Legacy giving also allows a family to get involved. So many times, you’ll see intergenerational giving, grandparents, then their children, and the grandchildren be involved with legacy giving. And for a particular donor, that’s important. So that is something to be aware of. 

And then you also, at the end, tax and financial benefits, which we’re not really going to address today, but just be aware that there are, of course, tax and financial benefits for legacy giving, but that depends on the donor’s situation.

So I’m just going to do a quick poll here. I’m curious, have you currently had legacy conversations? So it’s either yes, no, not sure, no but will start. So you can just drop it in the chat because I am curious where everyone is, if you just want to add them to the chat. Yes, you’ve done legacy gifts. Conversations, you haven’t done them yet. You’re not sure if you’ve had a legacy conversation, or hopefully after today, you will start doing them. And I’ll take a quick sip of water while everyone is posting. Steve, I’m not able to get into my chat right now. How are we looking on people’s comments?

Steven: They’re pretty diverse, Lori. The people who say “no,” lot of “no but will start.” But it’s pretty across the board.

Lori: Okay. Well, keep posting, and I’m going to continue on. So the first way that we want to think about our donor base, and think about who are our prospects for legacy giving. And I always say to everybody, you have your legacy giving donors already. You don’t have to go out and get new legacy donors. They are already in your donor database. And if you need help finding them in there, you could certainly speak to Steven or any of his colleagues at Bloomerang, but they are already in your donor base. But once you’re starting to think about, “All right, who are these people and how do I find them because we have so many?” and you have limited resources. You can’t speak to everybody. Who are you looking at?

You’re looking at, first, engagement, whatever that means to your organization. I’m going to give you some categories to look at but it may be different for every organization. So start with your most engaged donors. I’m going to share some examples. So your most engaged legacy prospects, number one, is your board. If you have an engaged board, I certainly hope you do, and if they haven’t done legacy gifts already, those are who should focus on right now. So those should be your most engaged legacy prospects is your board. They’re on your board. It’s a fiduciary duty that they have to the organization. They should have a vision for your organization for the future and supported by legacy gifts. So go to board first. 

After that, there’s other leadership or volunteers. Every organization is different. I’ve worked with some organizations that have lots of different advisory groups, or fundraising groups, leadership roles, not fiduciary. If you have those types of groups, go to those next. So those are also very engaged donors. Many donors, I’ve seen people that come off a board and then go into a different type of group that they’re a part of for the organization, maybe they’re volunteering. Speak to them. So even the people that were on your board, and they came off your board and don’t have a role anymore, go and speak with them. So these are the people that also served some sort of role or serving a role for the organization and that they are definitely engaged. 

And then start to work your way down to these other different categories. If you have any planned giving prospects from the past such as someone may have called and inquired about a legacy gift, or responded to a marketing piece like a check off, those are great prospects to follow up with. So for hopefully all of these and any other engagement factors you have, you’re tracking that in your CRM. So I’m sure that Steven can also talk about ways to do that, but this is what you want to do in your CRM, this track engagement.

So besides your planned giving prospects that you may have from the past, also look at major gift donors that are connected to a particular program. And I know I mentioned before, you don’t have to have a major gift during your lifetime and still do a very large or significant gift as a legacy gift. But when you have major gift donors that are giving towards a particular program and you know who they are, okay, we all have those, that can be a very good gift or donor that gives you gift for endowment. And maybe they’re already giving to endowment, and they may want to do a legacy gift that supports continuation of their endowment gifts. So I think you see where I’m going. So if anyone is really interested in a particular program for your organization, take a look at that as a legacy giving prospect. Usually, they’re major gift donors. 

Number five, any past capital campaign donors. I love to also segment these. If you’ve had a capital campaign in the past and donors have paid off their pledges, I would suggest going back to them and talking to them about legacy. Capital campaign donors make wonderful legacy giving donors because they understand the meaning of supporting something with a vision for the future, and whatever that container looked like. And many of them, they also enjoyed the experience of a group of people coming together to support something, which is very similar to what we do with legacy giving. So I would definitely suggest going back to capital campaign donors. 

I’ll share a really quick story. I work with an organization that I suggested that they do that, and they uncover it by speaking to someone that paid off a pledge for a capital campaign a few years prior, that there was a $5 million bequest for them. So this is something that you should definitely go back, and then you can steward and recognize those donors in a more meaningful way.

And then the last one . . . and actually, even before we get to that, there are other engagement factors that you may have for your organization that I don’t know what they are. Maybe it’s you know that all the donors that come to a certain event, they are really engaged, or all the donors that go to your gala or whatever that looks like, for your university, all the ones that buy tickets for the football games. Whatever that is, look at those engagement factors also. So don’t think that they’re meaningless. Really take a look at anything that you can find that your donors are really engaged and supportive of your organization. 

Now, the last one is very important. So this is the longevity and frequency of giving. And it looks different for every organization. And what you need to do is to take a look at your donor database and see how long or how far back you’re giving goes. So I work with some organizations that have 15 years of giving, and I work with some organizations that are 100 years old. So how far back can you go and find the donors that have been giving to you for the longest period of time and the frequency of giving? So the ones that are giving, for example, once a year for the past 10 years, or 3 times a year for the past 7 years, it’s a little bit of an art and science to do this, and I suggest starting with one query and kind of stretching it in different ways and see what kind of pool you come up with. But that will be also your pool of donors that you’ll start to market to. 

And you may not be able to reach out to them all individually because if you have thousands of them it will be a little bit tough, but you’ll start to market to them and they will start to self-identify that they’re interested. And these are the ones you’re going to continue to talk about legacy giving with, and you will see that these donors, if they’re giving to you all the time . . . I have experienced this when I was working the nonprofits, and I’m sure you have this also, they’re the donors that put in like $1 bill every time they receive an envelope for you, these are wonderful donors. These are wonderful donors. So you really need to think about them as . . . their values and they could possibly do a legacy gift. 

Now, the next one we’re going to talk about is age. And this is sort of interesting. Most people think that legacy giving donors are the elder donors that we have, and that’s not always the case. So when we talk about legacy by age, we understand how age factors into legacy giving, the mindset behind it, and then how to approach legacy giving donors at different ages. So it’s a different mindset for our donors, and there’s a different way that we’re going to approach how we talk with them about legacy giving. And then we’re also going to talk about matching some gift vehicles to donors by age, as an example. Again, I’m not going to get into all the jargon. You don’t have to be an expert in any of these gifts. But I want you to understand how, when they’re doing their gift planning, they may see gift vehicles as better options than not at different ages.

So the skills that you really need for this are those softer skills. It’s really thoughtful listening. This is where we are asking the questions and allowing our donors the opportunity to answer. And I was just talking with my group about this the other day that most people only let someone after they asked a question, like, one second or less than one second to answer before they start to fill in that space and continue talking. But it’s showing that you need at least maybe 10 or 13 seconds or something like that to formulate an answer. So when you’re asking thoughtful questions, allow yourself to have that thoughtful listening of your donor because you’re going to really uncover a lot and basically, you’re going to understand the values. That’s really where we want to go to. 

We want to understand our donor’s values. We understand they’re connected to the organization. They’re our donor. But not every donor in your donor base is going to be a legacy donor. Not all of them share the same values and have that passion and the connection for the organization. So you need to listen for that. 

And then the knowledge of the data, meaning their age, or how much they’re giving, all that information, that’s a starting point. That’s really great to have as you start to segment your list. But that’s not all you need in order to get to that legacy conversation and to have it successfully.

So how does age affect legacy giving? So these are just some averages that I found that I thought would be helpful to just put the whole thing in context. So average age of someone’s first will is 44. And I’m actually going to pose a question. Can anyone say why it would be at around 44, midlife or getting close to midlife? I’m curious. Steven, if you could check in the chat if . . . 

Steven: A lot of people are reading my mind. My first thought was having kids, starting a family. Is that what it is?

Lori: Yeah.

Steven: Yeah.

Lori: When you start to have children or maybe your last child and you know you need a will. Absolutely. So that’s the first will. But the first planned gift, the average is about 53. I’ll show you a difference in mindset in ages just in the next slide. But that legacy gift or the planned gift may not be right in the 40s when you’re doing a first will but it comes a little bit later on. Something to consider at how people start to think about transitioning and transferring their values, they have children, children starting to get older, they have more career success. 

So more than 50% of planned giving donors have been donors for more than 20 years. Do you remember when I mentioned longevity and frequency of giving? So when you have your direct mail donors that are usually . . . I put 60 to 70, but really could be average age really anywhere between 55 and 75, something in there, those donors are really great legacy giving donors. They have been giving for a long period of time. They’re direct mail donors. Your portfolio is full of legacy giving prospects. One of the things that you should be considering all the time, and this is not a direct mail session, but you should really be pushing people through that process of thinking about legacy gift. This is where most of your donor is going to come from. 

So most people make additional changes to the will between 75 and 85. Can anyone tell me why that is? I’m curious to hear. Steven, are there any . . . ?

Steven: Yeah. People are saying retirement, grandchildren, death of a spouse, that’s interesting. Yeah, I can definitely see that. End of life decisions in general. Are they on the right track, Lori?

Lori: Exactly. Last of the grandkids potentially have been growing. And retirement is all . . . Yeah, so absolutely. And then the average age or bequest received by nonprofit is 85. So most gifts, most bequests that are received are from wills that were made in the previous seven years. So just to think about the life stage of someone, and we’re going to talk a little about that, but understand how really different stages of our life will affect our giving. 

All right, so let’s talk about mindset. So younger donors tend to do . . . excuse me, legacy giving by function. So they’re just starting a family so they created a will because it’s out of function, obligation, we feel like we need to do it, it’s the right thing to do. And then in their mindset, their income is starting to go on the rise. And we’re talking about 20s, 30s, maybe early 40s. These are the years that they’re starting to gain success in their business, or profession, you know, planning for family and having a family. A lot of the younger donors, when they do legacy giving, it’s really more . . . so I say by function because it’s more a sense of obligation. 

So these are younger donors that are perhaps on a Young Alumni Board. They are doing a lot of networking. So it’s really the legacy giving component is a function of that networking, doing endowment gifts, like class gifts for universities, things like that. So that’s really the mindset there. They’re not thinking about leaving their legacy for the future generations. That’s not what they’re thinking now. They’re thinking of as they’re building a career, building their family, and the legacy giving that they do is more of like part of a community, if that makes sense.

So midlife donors, where I am sitting right now, 40s, 50s, 60s, these are legacy giving planning by loyalty. So these are the donors that perhaps are on a board now. They’ve had career and business success. They’re at, you know, the higher earning ages right now. And they have increased engagement with nonprofits rather than just going to a networking event that they’re having at a nonprofit, bringing younger donors in. They’re really truly engaged with the nonprofit. I mentioned sitting on the board, maybe doing volunteer work, becoming major gift donors. So this is, you know, going to galas. This is where they’re starting to get really involved in nonprofits and they’re tending to start to get loyalty towards them.

And then we have our mature donor. So this is maybe 65 and up, which most people think about as planned giving donors. And these donors, it’s legacy giving planning by values. So this is when they’re starting to think about transferring their values and funds to the nonprofits that they care about, to families. Like, they’re thinking about what kind of legacy they’re leaving, and they’re looking back to make meaningful connections and opportunities, and they’re reflecting on their lives. And they’re in the final stages of their estate planning so this is also the usually the time that they’re making that last will that they’re making. They could also do different types of gift vehicles, which I’ll explain in a moment. 

But, again, the types of gift vehicles that they do is personal to the donor. So we can always suggest gift vehicles for different stages and understand maybe this one is better for this donor. But it always comes down to the donor’s personal financial, philanthropic, everything situation. Unless you’re really their most trusted advisor, we don’t know all that information. But you can sort of lead them down the path. But you can understand how it works with the different stages and where they’re thinking about legacy giving. So if you’re speaking with a younger donor about leaving a bequest, they may not be right there. But if you want to talk about endowment gift, that may be a better option for them, to understand where they are.

And then let’s talk about matching possible gifts to donors by age. So this is what I just mentioned before. So if you have your younger donors, they’re gifting through association networking. So I’ve had organizations that I worked with have tremendous success building endowments from young leadership. That’s a great way for them to do a gift. There can be also legacy gifts that they can do as well that worked well for them. So bequests, they can certainly do bequests if they have a will at that point in time. But retirement asset beneficiaries are fantastic for younger donors because if they’re working they likely have a 401(k) plan, or a 43B or something like that that they can leave charity as a beneficiary. They can do life insurance. I’ve had younger donors do take-out life insurance policies because they’re younger and the premium would be less than would it be for an older donor. 

But again, this depends on the donor’s situation. But this is where the donor may be thinking, if you’re thinking what kind of gift vehicle is right for our donor at this age and stage, this is what you’d be looking at. They are gifting through networking and not necessarily thinking about what legacy that they want to leave.

So our midlife donors, they have greater success, they’re in their peak years for earnings, and this is where likely you’re having your major gift donors. And again, these are just general statements. You could have outliers everywhere here. And their children are starting careers. Maybe they’re like 60 years old and their children’s are starting careers. And so, therefore, they can do different types of gifting that is more appropriate for them. So it could be, of course, the retirement beneficiaries, insurance policies. Maybe they don’t need that insurance policy anymore because their child is an adult and they don’t need to have that policy for them. Endowment is always an option. They could think about trust, or donor advised funds. There are different gifts that are better for this group. They may start thinking about that. They could also do bequest. But they’re not really thinking about transferring their values at this point.

And then our mature donors, which are, say, the 65 and up, are doing their final state planning at this point, usually a little bit later. But right now, 65, they are doing some estate planning and retirement planning. So they’re doing financial planning for their retirement and also, they have to think about possibly a long life expectancy. People are living a lot longer now. So for those in this category, charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts are fantastic because it gives them lifetime income for as long as they should live or a certain amount of years if they’re doing a trust. So these are great options for them. They may want that income during their lifetime. Certainly, endowment is always an option. And bequests, bequest and life insurance are really great way for them to be leaving their legacy as well. 

So again, each of these lists are not the full list of types of gift vehicles, but just to give you a little understanding of how some of them may be thinking at different ages of their life of what they are thinking about and how they might go about planning.

So to have a legacy giving conversation . . . this is in general, and I’m going to show you examples of broken down into different ages because this is the fun part. So we want to understand why people make a legacy gift. This is when you’re having the conversation. You want to connect their passion to their gift, you want to bring up legacy, and you want either they’re going to say yes, no, or they may have conditions or objections you’ll need to address. So let’s see what that looks like. 

So with the younger donors, so you want to always understand why someone’s making a legacy gift. So it really all goes down to the values, again, focus on their connection to the organization, not with the organization needs. So don’t lead with, “You’ve been so generous for so many years. We want to build this program. Would you consider supporting it?” That’s not the way to approach it. It’s about the donor’s values. They have been so supportive, you know how engaged they are, what do they want to see for the future? So you’re going to focus on their values, so you want to connect their passions to their gift.

How did they get involved with the organization? You want to ask them, like, engagement kind of conversations, “Tell me about your experience with the organization? What does the organization do that’s most important to you?” Get them to connect their value and their experience from the organization and with their values. So it’s likely they have not been involved for so many years at this point in time, they’re younger, so you want to tap into that experience that they’ve had so far and really connect them with that. 

And then, if you bring up legacy, you can talk about you started a new initiative to raise funds for the future, “Would you like to hear more about it?” really simple way of bringing up legacy for them. At this point, they’re likely not going to react if you’re saying, “Have you thought about what your legacy is going to be?” because they’re younger and maybe in their 20s, and 30s, or 40s and they haven’t thought about their legacy at this point. So they may be more interested in hearing about a new initiative that you’re doing to raise more money, and that could be endowment or something else. But that is a good way to bring up legacy for them. And then of course, there’s you’re going to get a yes, no, conditions or objections. I’ll talk a little about objections once we get through all of these.

So we’re talking the same situation but midlife donor. So again, you’re going to understand why that person would want to make a legacy gift, connect with their values, and when you want to connect their passion to their gift, “How did they get involved with the organization?” So that always brings the person back. Think about that. It’s a really a very important question to ask your donors. You probably know it already, but it’s really great to bring it up with your donor. 

And you can say, “You’ve devoted your time and given generously over the years. What factors go into your philanthropic planning?” Bring it up. It’s always asking these types of questions to your donors to allow them to think about it. You want to have that type of deeper conversation with them. It’s not going right into, “Do you want to support and do a legacy gift?” So this is how you’re starting to bring up legacy. 

And then if you bring up legacy, “Philanthropy is a family decision. What story do you want yours to tell?” These are really powerful ways to bring up legacy for them to start thinking about what they envision for the future. So at this stage, if they have children, the children are a little bit older so they’ve already done some estate planning, and their children may be adults at this point. So this is where you have to start to bring up talking about transferring those values to their family. At this point, they may or may not have grandchildren but you want to start them to think about what the future will hold and also think about the past. And again, you’re going to have a yes, no, conditions, and objections.

And with your mature donors, so same thing, so you can see I’m just substituting out some of the questions. So when you connect their passion to the gift, “What is your biggest accomplishment in your life?” Bring them back to something about their life. Have them think of it because this is the point of time they’re really thinking about doing something meaningful. And, you know, we hope that of course that relates to your organization, but you want to bring them back to what is meaningful for them. Allow them to tell their story. Allow them to think about it. Many people haven’t even thought about it. And then you could talk about, “How has the organization shaped your life?” So, again, remember, all your donors, your legacy donors, you have them already, this may not be the right conversation for each of your donors, but they will be for the legacy giving donors.

So you have to start with those prospects by engagement and then you could break it down by age. And then when you bring up legacy, “What values do you want to pass on to your family? What impact you wish to create?” So remember, people want to pass on their legacy through their memories, and their stories, and their values, and their assets. What do they want for themselves, for the values? What do they want for their family? What do they want for their community? What do they want for society? So you want to understand from them what they want to do. 

It’s a different way of thinking. And I really do a lot of training on this. And the people in my group have done an amazing job with creating these types of conversations with donors and have these deeper conversations and bringing in those gifts, which are truly meaningful for the donor. And this is where we want to go. We want to create that meaning for the donor. So try to understand that you need to have that value conversation with your donor rather than saying, “Hey, would you consider doing a bequest?” That could come later on. Think about you’re understanding why they want to do the gift and then we go into how they would do the gift. How is the transactional bequest, life insurance, whatever the gift vehicle is. The why is the conversation that you’re having, and this is what we’re talking about now, why would they want to do that?

So let’s talk about legacy by stage. And I’m not sure if . . . Steven, if you want me to pause here for a second just to answer any questions, or if I could just take them all at the end because don’t know if you’re getting a lot of questions right now.

Steven: I would keep trucking. Yeah. I think a couple of the ones in here are going to get answered in a second. I have a feeling.

Lori: Fantastic. Okay. So legacy by stage, so we have ages and we have stages. And the stage is just to understand what the stages of life or life events factor into legacy giving mindset. We’re going to talk about also the approach for legacy and for donors at different stages, which can overlap with ages as well. But there are, you know, few little things in here. And then we’re going to talk about matching some gift vehicles to certain stages. 

So different stages, we talked about ages. So ages can be stages, young, midlife, and mature. And there’s also a few, you know, stages in between there, but we’re just going to focus on those three. Life events also. And I know people have mentioned about death of a spouse, or retirement. These are life events that really do also affect us with our giving. And so that marriage, divorce, birth, death, retirement, selling a business like career events, those are also large events in someone’s life that will affect the way they are giving to an organization and think about and reflect on their life.

So considerations at stages. So you have the age and stage of life. We’re thinking about children, income, engagement, which we talked about already, then there’s all the tax considerations. So I know I mentioned before, it’s not a major consideration, but we have someone that, at a certain stage that they do need to consider some sort of tax implications, say selling a business, which is a taxable event, then something like a legacy gift, the way that it’s planned could be very good for them at that stage. So you need to understand like where they are in different stages. And some of these things may become more important than others. 

Income consideration. So if, like, in retirement, if someone needs income, they’re looking to supplement their income in retirement. That would be a good time to potentially bring up a charitable gift annuity or charitable trust, which provides them income over their lifetime and still makes a very significant legacy gift. So this is also a consideration. So if you’re having a conversation with a donor and they mentioned these things regarding tax implications or income considerations. You could also then discuss with them these options that may be beneficial for them.

Same thing with memorial gifts. So, unfortunately, we do lose people in our lives, and many donors do like to make a memorial gift to the loss of a loved one. So it’s something like you can suggest to them doing an endowment gift, so they put an endowment in honor of someone or in memory of someone that they care about. These are also the types of things that you can talk about with your donors and considerations for your donors at different stages. It doesn’t even have to be right when that . . . say, a memorial gift doesn’t have to be right when that happened. But many donors when they’re considering doing a legacy gift, they do like to do it in memory of a loved one, maybe their parents or a spouse, and that could be worked into the gift planning.

So I never leave a session without giving you some next steps, some things that are actionable to do. So I want you to be comfortable with your case statement and your core messages to your different categories. If you don’t have a legacy giving a case statement, you should. I do run free workshops on them. So you’re welcome to join. But it’s really important to understand and have your case statement because then you understand your donor’s values and it makes having the conversations much easier. In fact, I’ve had people say once they have a legacy giving case statement, it’s like a light bulb, went off, you know, on top of their head. And they really have clarity around their donors values, which is really incredibly important. 

You should start to gather and segment your categories of donors if you can do that. So it’s fun. It’s fun but so tedious. It’s a good exercise to do. And once you’ve done it, you’ve done it. And you can then start to have deeper conversations with your donors. You should be able to assign different donors to other people, colleagues of yours to have conversations. Do some training. You know, use these slides to train your colleagues before they have conversations with their donors. Use the questions, sample questions. And I have some more sample questions I can read off, if you’d like at the end.

So this is really the way that you’re going to have conversations with your donors and bring in those gifts. So as much as we like to segment and market, which is incredibly important for planned giving, we have to have these deeper conversations with our donors. Not only are you providing an opportunity for your donors to make an impact and do something meaningful within their life and connect their values with your organization, I really think it’s a disservice to your donors if you don’t have these conversations. 

I will share that many times talking about philanthropy with our donors is on the shoulders of nonprofits. Many of the attorneys . . . and I’m an attorney, I can talk about this, many attorneys, and CPAs, and financial advisors are not having these conversations with their clients, nor to connect donors and helping them finding meaning in their life by doing some sort of philanthropic gift. It really is our responsibility. So please, I implore you, please go out and have conversations with your donors.

And then take your case statement and core message, develop your marketing communications with those categories in mind. You can highlight donor’s values all the time. You should do that. It will actually lift your whole program up. Once you start talking to your donors, and your marketing, and your communications in donor-centric language, which is what we’re talking about today, you will bring in more annual gifts, it happens all the time, and because you’re speaking to them from their point of view. So take a look at all your marketing that you’re sending out and see if you can do any tweaks before things go out the next time. I absolutely guarantee it will change your fundraising, so even if you don’t even go into legacy giving. So definitely take a look at that. 

And then also write out possible objections to legacy giving and ways to answer them. Some objections could be, if you’re talking about ages and stages, it can be anything from, “I’m not old enough to do legacy giving,” or, you know, “I’m too young to do legacy giving,” or, “I’m not wealthy enough to do legacy giving.” There’s lots of different objections that can come up, and I tell all my clients objections are just requests for more information. It’s not necessarily a no that they don’t want to do legacy gift. It’s more of you’re not meeting of the minds at that point.

I’m not sure if she’s on here, but there’s an example from someone in my group that really goes right to the heart of this. She spoke with one of her board members about a legacy gift, and he said he couldn’t do one. And she asked, “Why?” because I shared with everyone they should always ask why out of curiosity, “Why is that?” He said he couldn’t do a gift of a million dollars or more. And we know that you don’t have to do a gift of million dollars or more for a legacy gift. But in his mind, that’s what a legacy gift was. So objections are a request for more information. There’s lots of different objections out there. Always ask your donor why they feel that way or find out what the mindset is about the objection. Sometimes it’s wanting to control the assets over their lifetime because they’re concerned they’re going to run through their funds. Maybe they feel they need to support their children. Whatever it is, find out what the mindset is behind that objection. 

But there will be some objections, particular to your organization that I just couldn’t give as an example, but it could be anything from a donor could say, “Your CEO makes too much money,” or, “I didn’t like what you did in that program,” or whatever that could be. Write those out as well because they may come up, and it’s really important for you to understand how to be able to answer to that and also to understand the mindset behind that. Remember, our donors that are doing legacy gifts are putting the organization, if they’re doing it through a bequest, next to their family and friends in their will. That’s how important it is. So we have to understand the mindset behind that when they’re willing to do a legacy gift. It’s a very significant thing.

So this is me, and this is where you could find me. So there’s my email. There’s my Facebook group. You’re welcome to join. I’m also on LinkedIn. So if you want to connect with me, I’d love to make connections. So go ahead and make a connection with me on LinkedIn, if you’d like. That Facebook group, it’s free and it’s a lot of fun. It’s all nonprofit professionals in there and we do trainings all the time. And it’s a really great resource if you’re interested in doing more legacy giving. And, Steven, would you like me to stop sharing?

Steven: No. Let’s leave that up because I want to make sure folks connect with you, and the Facebook group definitely, people should join. Whenever I scroll through there, those tend to pop up and I always get some good tidbits from the conversation. So, Lori, this was awesome. Thanks for doing this, first of all. It’s always great to hear from you. And I love the topic. So it’s like I always enjoy, always enjoy listening to you talk about it. 

We got some questions here. If you haven’t asked a question yet, please do now. We got probably 12 minutes, 12 to 15 minutes before we adjourn here. So don’t be shy. Lori, you know, you’re speaking my language about the segmentation, the database, obviously, I just want to hammer home the point that, you know, when you showed the statistics about the ages, I feel like the question I get is who are the old people in our database? I’m, like, “Tell me more? Why do you want to know?” and like, “Why we want to do legacy?” I’m like, “Well, hang on. There may be better people.” That’s it, right? It’s not age and rich people. Like, there are better signals, and those are good signals, obviously, but there seemed to be better signals.

Lori: Always engagement first. So I tell my clients that want to do either a wealth or age overlay of their database, I said, “You know, you focus on engagement first. That’s the most important thing,” because you can have a really engaged 35-year-old donor that can do some sort of legacy gift, whether it’s, you know, endowment or something that they want to give and you should focus on engagement first. So certainly age is helpful. So if you have, say, a 65-year-old donor, it’s likely they’ve been giving to you for 20 years.

Steven: Wow. Yeah.

Lori: So if you are looking through your database for that longevity and frequency, you going to find that person even if you didn’t know their age. So that is really is if you’re starting out legacy giving, I tell everyone if you’re just starting out, your board and longevity and frequency of giving. Those are the ones to go for. Yes, there’s absolutely other factors that make it more likely someone will do a legacy gift, you know, potential wealth, higher education, women, there’s lots of different factors, but really if you go for engagement, you’re going to capture most of them.

Steven: I love it. We’re recording this in December of 2020. There’s a terrible pandemic that’s been going on. And a lot of people are wondering, and I’ve heard this a lot too, you know, this is a topic ostensibly centered around death. And, you know, there’s a lot of deaths happening. How can people navigate that? I don’t think people should stop doing legacy giving or any planned gift marketing, but is there a way to, you know, be sensitive, not appear tone deaf because obviously this is a challenge that is sort of unprecedented? What have you told folks to . . . or are you, saying to kind of change the way they’re talking about the topic?

Lori: So I have told everyone do not retreat because it will just take a long time to recover. And the organizations that have not retreated and actually are continuing to promote legacy giving are doing very well because donors want to give. They are seeking meaning in their life right now. This is a very interesting year. And actually, I think one of the most Googled searches is gifts and wills and estate planning. People are thinking about it. 

I don’t think that promoting bequests, depending on what your organization is, like, promoting, if it gift as a bequest, if you find that’s a little insensitive then to promote all different gift options because there’s lots of other gift options besides bequests. People always think legacies are bequests. It could be an endowment gift right now. It could be a gift of jewelry. It could be real estate. There are so many things that someone can do right now. So it’s promoting and giving options to donors, and it’s also doing that donor-centric language and questioning. 

So if you saw my questions, I didn’t ask anyone, “Do you want to do a bequest in your will?” It’s about what was most meaningful in your life, you know, what do you want to talk about? What do you want to do for the future? It’s value based questioning. And then, should that conversation go down the path of the best option for them is to do a bequest, that may be between them and their accountant and their lawyer. So it’s providing options. I don’t think that anyone should not promote legacy giving right now. It’d be detrimental to the organization that doesn’t do it.

Steven: Yup. I love it. And we’ve seen that across the board with all types of fundraising, the people who kept the foot on the gas, for lack of a better term, they’re doing better than the ones who weren’t. So I love it. You mentioned capital campaign donors as being good prospects, Lori, and that sparked a couple questions. One from someone who is doing a capital campaign right now. Is that a bad time, or is that a kind of a sneaky good time to maybe be bringing up those questions? Can they sort of be woven together, or is it past capital campaign donors that are the best prospects?

Lori: So in your capital campaign, if it’s ongoing right now including legacy giving in it, is a very smart move, because you can give them donor credits. So it depends what the capital campaign looks like. If you’re raising cash or bricks and mortar but you also have a component someone can do a legacy gift as well and they get campaign credit for both those gifts and they get [inaudible 00:50:56] so even if it’s only, you know, a certain portion is cash. And also to raise endowment with . . . it depends on the capital campaign. So it’s hard for me to answer, but legacy and a capital campaign really go well together, if you can put them together. I don’t know what stage the campaign is at this point. But if it’s all cash and you’re just raising the capital campaign, then I think it’s wise to wait for the campaign to end and then you can go back to those donors that paid off those capital campaign pledges, if it was cash, and then ask for the legacy gift later.

Steven: That makes sense. Cool. Okay. You mentioned that maybe case statements should look different depending on the age or the stage that the person is in. First thing, did I hear that correctly? And if so, what are those differences? Is it just a matter of addressing the stage that they’re in or sort of, you know, making it appear as if you’re aware of what it is, kind of like you maybe you would be in some other segmented piece? Did I get that right?

Lori: Maybe I misspoke. So the case statement should stay pretty much the same unless you have different areas that you want to address that donors have different, you know, values towards. So I have organizations I work with it, say, a community foundation, their main value is supporting and investing by the community within the community. That’s their core value for their case statement. But they have lots of different other programs that they can have other core messages for and different segmentation. So it should really be one core case statement that you have, like value your organization, and then using that then to segment and depending on where they are in their age, or stage, or engagement, to use them to adjust that messaging.

Steven: Makes sense. Cool. Okay. I’m glad we clarified that because a couple people brought it up. Nice. That makes sense. The board, so you mentioned the board members being good prospects. Is having 100% board giving a prerequisite, or could this be a way to get a board to give for the first time? Whereas if you haven’t really brought that up, do you really need high engagement before you can bring up this topic of bequests or planned gifts? What do you think?

Lori: So having a board engaged or that buy-in from the board about legacy giving is incredibly important when you’re start to do your legacy program, or if you’re just trying to scale, wherever you are in that process. Many organizations start out that their board tells them, “Yes, go ahead and do it,” but they haven’t made their own gifts yet. So doing the legacy giving process, starting to create a program is a great way to get your board involved. In fact, that’s where I have everyone to start. They get some ambassador on the board to start pitching the board at meetings, having calls. You know, no one gets to self-solicit. They have a conversation and they start to bring in gifts. 

If you’re really motivated in doing a legacy giving program, you should get 30% to 50% of your board members to do a legacy gift the first year or 18 months and then your goal would be 100% participation. You could have a legacy given policy for the board that says, you know, as a board member, maybe the second or third year, whatever the service looks like, that they do some sort of personally significant legacy gift, alongside their annual gift commitments, whatever they also have.

Steven: Cool. I love the idea of the board members kind of doing it internally. That makes a lot of sense, the board champion. I love that. There’s a question in here that was on my mind around ROI. I have heard that this is one of the highest ROI fundraising activities there is. First off, is that true? And if so, how do you kind of convince people who maybe think, “Jeez, this sounds like a lot of work,” but it seems like it pays huge dividends and may be far off into the future, sure, but it seems like this is a super higher ROI, you know, fundraising program in the long run?

Lori: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it’s really the only surefire way to sustain an organization for the long term. You are going to be replacing those annual gifts that you may lose one day. Their ROI, you know, depends on what numbers you’re looking at. So it’s hard to really get a good number on it because, say, for example, if you’re doing a marketing campaign, you know what the cost is, but you may not receive a gift from that campaign immediately. It may come in 18 months later. 

So it’s a long game. And that’s how you [inaudible 00:55:56], that’s how your board has to accept that because sometimes the board will say, “Well, you know, we tried it for a year . . . ” or even staff, you know, “We tried it for a year and it’s not working. So let’s do something else.” And that’s the wrong thing to do. 

Actually, probably the biggest problem is when people give up because planned giving thrives on consistency. You need to be out there having conversations with donors, putting your marketing for the long game, and it absolutely will pay off. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot. It’s conversations with donors you’re already having. So if you’re meeting with the donor and you can just have that legacy conversation, if appropriate, you’ve just, you know, added on that legacy component, doing marketing and the things you’re already doing. There’s a lot of different things you could do to keep the cost down. Return on investment, average gifts, I mean, depending on the sector and everything range from $25,000 to $100,000. So if you just get a few legacy intents a year, that’s pretty significant.

Steven: Yeah, absolutely. What’s the saying? The best time to plant a tree is yesterday, but the second best time today.” And every time I hear that I think about that legacy giving. It’s, like, that’s it.

Lori: Yeah. [inaudible 00:57:11] most people are not waiting 30 years for these gifts to close. I mean, of course, we hope our donors live a very, very long life. But for the most part, when they’re doing the legacy gifts, as you could see, any time you gain that gift, probably, you know, five to seven years after they’ve done the planning for it in their will potentially. So it’s not as long of a horizon as most of you think.

Steven: Would you prioritize your time more on the older subset because of that, or is it really just go back to any length of giving, any engagement regardless of age?

Lori: So a good solicitation and marketing plan is really to focus on both. You focus on engagement. You go through engagement first. But then you could also focus on the factors that you can work into your CRM to pull those donors out like the ages, and the long-term giving and like that, and continue to market to them because you may not be able to speak with all them. So you want to talk to the people you’re always speaking with, your board, your restricted donors, you know, the ones that give restricted gifts, those donors first, alongside the other ones that you’re marketing to, and as they start to sort of self-identify, and you can find the ones that are more engaged from that then pull them out and start talking to them. 

In a way, you have to talk to everybody. Sorry, [inaudible 00:58:40] what everyone wants to hear. You really have to feel it out to see where your donors are. It also takes a lot of A/B testing because you may think, “Oh, I’m sending out . . . ” and I’ve had clients do this, send out a marketing piece that just did not sit right with their donors, meaning, like, there was no response, it wasn’t the right message, and then we sent out something else and it got a great response. It’s to understand where your donors are and what kind of messaging that they want to get will save you a lot of time and resources.

Steven: That makes sense. Well, if I can speak for my generation, I’m 36, I’ve been giving to some nonprofits for many years now, including monthly gifts. I have yet to get that packet in the mail. I’ve got two kids. So we’ve created a will and updated a will now a couple of times. I’m ready, if any of you are listening. If you have me as a donor, send me a packet because the next time I’ll do it, that we are out there even though we’re Millennials. We’re not all, you know, completely useless. 

Lori, this was awesome. I feel like I could talk about this stuff all day. I want to let you go. You’ve already been really gracious with your time. But how can people get a hold of you? We got your stuff on the screen there. But one final plug from you.

Lori: So feel free to join the group. It’s a great engaged group. I’m in there every day answering questions. You can DM me. You can email me. Everyone, I have an open door policy. I love talking about legacy giving. So I’ve been doing this for 20 years and teaching for 20 years on this, so happy to talk about with just about everybody. So feel free to connect.

Steven: Do it, and join that group. It’s awesome. There’s a lot of good conversation there. You get some quick snippets from Lori, little pieces of advice here and there. It’s a good one. So, yeah, this was awesome. Thanks for doing it. And thanks to all of you for hanging out. I know it’s a busy week. It was Giving Tuesday week. You’re probably still wrapping up that stuff. So I really appreciate . . . well, close to 400 people hanging out with us. 

We got some cool webinars coming up. Lori, I’m going to grab my screen away from you because I just want to talk about next week’s. Hopefully, you all can see that. We got my, buddy Rachel Werner, is going to join us. She joined us, similar to Lori, earlier this year, pre-pandemic to talk about grants. And she’s coming back to tell us all about what has changed in terms of all that grant funding out there since the pandemic. So next week, same time, same place, exact same time, same place, 3:00 p.m. Eastern, next Thursday, free. Rachel’s awesome. It’ll be a good session. So hopefully, we’ll see you there. 

If not, look for an email for me with the recording and the slides, connect with Lori, and hopefully we’ll talk to you again soon on another webinar. So we’ll call it a day there. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Stay safe, stay healthy. We need all of you out there. And hopefully, you’ll get some well-deserved rest here towards the end of the year. And good luck with the year-end campaigns if you’re doing those. So take care, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Lori: Bye.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. She also serves as the Director of Communications for PRSA’s Hoosier chapter.

Kristen Hay
Kristen Hay
Kristen Hay

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