Q. What is legacy giving?
Also called “estate gifts,” “planned giving” or “gifts in the will,” legacy giving is the process of a donor designating a financial or asset-based gift to a nonprofit in their will or trust. It’s basically adding their favorite nonprofit (you!) as an heir to a portion of their estate or will.
There are a variety of ways to structure estate gifts: some tools offer tax benefits, others pay the donor a monthly stipend throughout their lifetime. All planned gifts are arranged now to be given later, after the donor has passed away.
We like to refer to legacy giving as “an act of worship.” If we really believe God owns everything and we’re simply stewards of His resources, it’s easy to think about blessing a ministry or cause we care about as a “thank you” to Him.
Q. Will adjusting our planned giving program increase my workload?
A. No, Money for Ministry’s goal is to make things easy for you. We do the work for you. You simply choose how involved you want to be. Even if you do nothing, 80% of your results will come through our automated process.
Q. I don’t understand the legal jargon of planned giving. How will I be able to communicate clearly to my donors?
A. You’re not alone – technical talk is confusing. People are much more likely to respond when you lead with inspiration rather than information. The vast majority of planned giving donors start with a simple will.
Q. What kind of results can I expect from my planned giving program with Money for Ministry?
A. Our average client receives $39 in estate gift notifications for every dollar they invest with us! Compared to anything else you can do in fundraising, that’s an amazing return on investment!
Q. I’m not very web savvy. Is it okay if my communications lean toward direct mail instead?
A. Many people believe direct mail is outdated and ineffective, but our research shows that 80% or more prefer direct mail. We can promise you more prospects because we know how to appeal to them, inbox and mailbox.
Q. Do I have to stay in tight personal contact with every donor I hope to approach for an estate gift?
A. It is commonly believed that donors need personal contact to consider an estate gift, but 80-90% of newly surfaced donors have reported they do not expect or want a personal follow up. Ongoing dialogue through our automated correspondence does the work for you. In fact, many donors move from zero to a completed estate gift with no personal contact or follow up.
Our job is to help educate your prospects about the estate giving resources available to them. We regularly hear reports that our clients have received estate gifts from people they’ve never met. Many of these individuals never gave money to the organization while they were alive, were only on the mailing list, or only had a connection to the organization through a neighbor or loved one. Consistent, ongoing conversation is key – even if it’s just through mail-back correspondence.
Q. To get the biggest bang for our buck, should we start by approaching our major gift donors first?
A. Every donor is an estate gift prospect, and the majority of your “major” donors are currently hidden – disguised as small gift, monthly supporters just waiting to be found and nurtured. These individuals give on a consistent basis because they’re passionate about supporting your work and are strong prospects for leaving an end-of-life gift.
In fact, small gift donors donate an average of 10 times more in an estate gift than they gave throughout their entire lifetime.
Q. When should our organization begin to consider a planned giving program?
A. Most of the organizations we work with have been around for 20+ years. While it is good to focus on planned giving even before your organization reaches its 20th anniversary, it’s critical to have a plan in place once you have hit that 20 – 25-year threshold. By that time, you have established a depth of relationship and longevity with your donors and built trust that your organization will be true to its mission for future generations.
Q. How much does it cost to work with your organization? Do you take a percentage from estate gifts received?
A. Pricing varies depending on the size and scope of the work we are doing with your organization, but our fees cover everything we do and are a fraction of what it would cost to hire staff to do the work.
We do not take a percentage from gifts received. Our annual service agreements are broken down into equal monthly payments (like a retainer). We do offer a discount for our service if you prefer an annual prepay model.
Q. How do I know if my organization has good potential planned giving prospects?
A. That is certainly something that we will help uncover as we start working with you, but if you want a jumpstart on potential legacy giving prospects, run this simple 12x12x12 report.
- Donors with at least 12 years of giving history
- Donors with at least 12 gifts given
- Donors with a gift within the last 12 months
The output of that report will give you a great list of long-time, loyal, and faithful donors—perfect to be considered for a legacy gift! Check out our Estate Gift Calculator!
Q. What is the average estate gift size?
A. According to several sources, the average estate gift is about $57,000 per gift (and increasing!). It is often the largest gift the donor will ever make to your organization—and usually about 10 times the amount of their lifetime giving.
Q. Who is most likely to be interested in legacy giving? Do I need to do a wealth screening?
A. It is true that donors who have greater wealth are more likely to leave a legacy gift, but wealth is NOT the reason that they decide to leave this kind of gift. In fact, you may miss some incredible gifts if you eliminate givers because of a wealth screen. Instead, you want to look for long-time faithful givers. You will be amazed at the number of major gifts that will be generated from those you may not necessarily define as a “major giver.” The deep connection to your work and organizational mission is what leads to the gift for both major and mass-level givers. Understand your donor funnel.
Q. Do you promote other ways to give (outside of gift in will or trust)?
A. The simple answer is “yes we do.” But first and foremost is the need to create awareness of the concept of planned giving and legacy giving. A simple gift in will is still the most common gift (and understood by most people). Once a donor begins to show interest in planned giving, then you can help them determine the best giving tool for them to use. We want to make sure that when talking about planned giving we don’t make the tool the lead story. You ALWAYS want to lead with inspiration (the “why” of the gift) and follow with information (the “how” the gift can be given/ received). Visit our resource page.
Q. We have limited staff time to devote to planned giving, can we still experience growth?
A. Good news! Whether you have next to no time to focus on planned giving, or you have a team of planned giving officers, we can come alongside and help maximize your planned giving growth potential. Our program is designed to run completely in the background and help grow your planned giving pipeline even if your team has limited time. As we like to say, “We’ll do the work, you get the results.”
That said, there are aspects of the work we do that can enhance and be added to the work you are already doing. Also, if you WANT to strategically lean into planned giving allocate some staff time to growing it, we can help you maximize that time (no matter the level of time you wish to allocate). Contact us.
Q. We are brand new to planned giving and not sure where to start. Can you help?
A. That’s why we’re here! The most important decision you can make is to get started. We help organizations begin the process of mapping out what’s possible and create a plan to get there. We also help organizations that have been doing planned giving for years by building efficiencies, adding best practices, and providing a new perspective on what planned giving growth and success looks like. Contact us.
Q. We’re getting ready to launch a capital campaign. Should we wait to start a planned giving program?
A. The nice thing about planned giving is that it can really “ride along” with almost any type of fundraising appeal. To that end, we believe that every capital campaign could or should have a planned giving component to it. And when done right, it will enhance your campaign, not complicate or slow it down. How to Integrate Legacy Giving with your Capital Campaign.
Q. What makes Money for Ministry’s approach affective?
A. We find that organizations can spend an outsized portion of time on the functions of planned giving (type of gift, tax implications, tools, etc.). This technique limits your organization’s total results potential because the end user is ALREADY interested in planned giving. Instead, Money for Ministry focuses on the characteristics of a potential planned giving prospect even before they may have ever considered a planned gift.
A donor will consider a planned gift to your organization because of their deep, heartfelt connection with your organization’s mission and work, NOT because of your efforts to help them with tax saving techniques and gift planning. You will maximize your planned giving potential by leading with inspiration (how the donor is connected to your work) and follow with information (the techniques of how they might bless your organization through planned giving). The order of the conversation is foundational and crucial. Get your copy of Ride the Wave.
Q. What does the process of working with Money for Ministry look like? (what do you do)?
A. We’re glad you asked. We believe there are 5 points of planned giving growth success.
- Goal: You need to set a clear goal in order to experience planned giving growth. Without a clear and compelling goal, we find that planned giving growth often gets pushed forward to “next year’s strategic plan” and then again, and again. And yet, we know that the greatest wealth transfer in history is underway, and those organizations that lean into its potential will experience the most impact. Money for Ministry will help create and build a planned giving goal with you, develop a plan to achieve it, and measure against it to ensure that it remains a point of emphasis. Estate Gift Calculator!
- Messaging: Consistent multi-channel communication is the foundation for all successful planned gift programs. Money for Ministry helps you optimize your existing donor communication channels by providing content for your newsletters, receipt inserts, appeal letter reply device, web, social media, leave-behinds for donor contacts, events, etc. Our unique approach was preferred by donors 10-to-1 over the traditional “Terminology & Techniques” approach in an independent split test. Get your copy of Ride the Wave.
- Interest: It’s critical to identify donors who are the most likely planned giving prospects. Money for Ministry has developed an automated trigger-based marketing program that will identify the “hidden major donors” in your database. We have hundreds of thousands of data points that allow us to understand the characteristics of potential planned giving prospects and help them move from the point of awareness to interest to action. We’ll do the work and you get the results. Understand your donor funnel.
- Team: Money for Ministry works as an extension of your team. You will have an Account Manager assigned to you who will help with strategic planning, development, training, and direction. You will also have a Client Care Specialist assigned to your account who will ensure that your program is running smoothly and provide service and assistance as needed. Planned giving growth is possible, even if it can’t be your top priority or focus. Read some of our testimonies!
This 5-prong approach will lead to deeper relationships with your donors and more estate gifts in your pipeline.