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Legacy Giving Made Super Simple

I had the privilege of interviewing Richard Radcliffe, author of “Why legacies are brilliant for charities and how to get them" for our YouTube channel. His insights on legacy giving were so impressive that I am sharing some highlights in today's LinkedIn Newsletter article so we can incorporate his suggestions into our holiday giving and year-end campaigns.

If you're unfamiliar with legacy giving, it simply is when someone donates a portion of their estate through their Will to a nonprofit or charity. Planned giving, on the contrary, can be more complex and deals with bequests, gifts of appreciated stock, real estate, artwork, life insurance, RRSPs, etc. Additionally, fundraisers need to understand the basics of estate planning and taxation. They should also be familiar with the assets used to fund a gift, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and real estate.

Legacy giving is the way to go for smaller charities. Richard shared some stats with me based on his research, and the average gift to a charity in a Will is approximate $70,000.00. Additionally, CAGP reports that by the time Canadians are 75 years of age or older, nearly 90% will have made a Will, and 86% of Canadians know that they can leave a charitable gift in their Will.

A few key times when people typically make or update their Will include when they get married, have children, buy a property or later in life after retirement. So, how do we encourage them to consider our charity in their Will?

How to Start a Legacy Campaign:

It is as simple as creating a landing page on your website! The landing page should be clear and straightforward.

All it needs to include is:

  • Some verbiage around how easy it is to make a legacy gift

  • A story of how a legacy gift impacted your organization or how it could impact it

  • Your charitable name and registration number to give to their lawyer

  • An FAQ, but this is optional

When creating a Will, either online or with a lawyer, all you need to designate a portion to a charitable organization is your charity registration number and name. It is that simple.

Once you have built a landing page, you can begin to market your legacy giving program, which is also super simple.

How to Promote your Legacy Campaign

If you are a small shop, you will be delighted that there is no need for costly brochures or mailouts. Don’t worry about making prospect lists and doing research. Digital marketing is the best way to promote your legacy giving campaign because your communications should be less formal and more upbeat.

Richard shared his 'Nudge Theory' with us, where we incorporate a line or two of text into our regular social media posts or emails. He encourages us to use short statements that plant a seed.

Here are some examples:

“Did you know that only __% of our funds come from government funding, and the remaining __% comes from donations and gifts in Wills?"

“When the time is right for you to remember a charity in your Will, please think of us."

“Did you know you can leave 1% to charity in your Will and 99% to your family?"

The holidays are when many of us think about our loved ones, health, and the ability to give back to causes we care about. By including these tips for legacy giving in our holiday communications, we can help inspire more donors to leave a lasting impact. A legacy gift is a powerful way to ensure that the work of vital organizations can continue long into the future.

Legacy Giving Programs for Nonprofits


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