In my last post Getting Real: Planned Giving Conversations are (should be) About Life and Legacy I noted that
between now and 2029 there is a tremendous opportunity for nonprofits to connect with donors about planned giving.
I also thanked Dr. Russel James for his advice about planned giving marketing outlined in
Words that Work II: The Phrases that Encourage Planned Giving (published by marketsmart)
I offered steps that you might take to open the door to a planned giving conversation:
1. Asking a donor if you might meet to thank them for their current gifts
2. And learn more about what led them to make those gifts.
3. If the person has been particularly loyal you might say that you would appreciate learning what promoted them to be so supportive for so long.
This is week I’m sharing a bit about legacy letters, what they are and the role such letters might play in the planned giving process.
Letter writing might one day become a lost art, but those over 65, and even those over 50, remember letter writing well. Many learned about family events through regular written missives (long before the holiday letter became ubiquitous).
Such letters, along with love letters from a beau serving in the military and even notes from pen pals were often saved and passed down through generations. How does a legacy letter differ from these missives? Legacy letters focus on:
1. Family, friends, and others who influenced one’s thinking, values, and life.
2. Values that one holds dear.
3. Messages that one might want to pass down to future generations.
Don’t know how to write or have a prospective donor write a legacy letter? You can help a person move in that direction by asking them about the topics listed above. You might suggest that if they have not done so that the person consider writing down thoughts about the people, places, and events that mattered to them.
How does this experience connect to planned giving? When considering what matters to the donor ask yourself how it connects to your nonprofit, e.g., the person’s family scraped and saved to send them to college and that experience changed their life. If you work for an independent school, college, or university learning such information could open the door to discussing creation of an endowed scholarship.
Want to know more? I will be speaking about legacy letter writing at the AFP Lehigh Valley Philanthropy Institute on May 16 at the Virginia Fundraising Institute in July. Can’t attend either one, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about legacy letter writing.