In a past post I asked fundraising leaders whether they know their Ikigai (Raison D’etre or “reason for being”). I noted that fundraising leaders rightly focus on goals, metrics, tactics, and progress made.
Following Debbie I spoke about legacy letter and ethical wills (thanks John Warren of Hartsook Companies for inviting me). I reminded attendees that while it is important to focus on planned giving marketing and metrics, so too it is critical to dig deeper, to ask our donors about their Ikigai or what they want their legacy to be.
Do you have a donor who has yet to record thoughts about their “reason for being”? Developing an ethical will (a will that speaks to one’s values rather than one’s valuables) or legacy statement can help a donor clarify what matters most.
How does writing an ethical will or legacy statement inform philanthropy?
When we and donors know what they are most passionate about, when they can define their Ikigai or outline what their legacy will be, it can lead to deeper and more fruitful conversations about giving, particularly regarding legacy gifts.
When your energy for email or calls is waning stop and . . .
- Write down the names of your top five to 10 donors.
- Record for each person what you believe to be their Ikigai or the legacy you believe they want to leave.
- If you don’t know that donor’s reason for being or what they want their legacy to be call and schedule a meeting. Let the person know that you aren’t coming to ask for money, you are coming to learn about their reason for being or what they want their legacy to be.
- If you know the answer, ask yourself whether the gift conversations that you are having with each donor ties as closely as possible to that donor’s Ikagai or what they want their legacy to be.
If the donor has created an endowed fund ask whether they might like to write a brief legacy statement that could be shared with those who benefit from the fund.
A legacy statement can be a powerful way to acknowledge a donor in addition to placing their name on a donor wall. Having a donor craft a legacy statement can also provide an opportunity to share it with and inspire other donors who might wish to create an endowed fund of their own.
Sophie Penney is President of i5 Fundraising: www.i5fundraising.com and is the Senior Program Coordinator and Lecturer for Penn State’s all online Certificate Program in Fundraising Leadership.