PMA Consulting, LLC

How Do You Start the Legacy Gift Conversation?

A recent Pew Charitable Trust study reported that close to 92% of financial advisors talk with their clients about estate and philanthropic planning. With that in mind, the Charlotte chapter of Leave A Legacy hosted a luncheon focused on planned giving and the benefits legacy gifts can bring to a nonprofit. The panel discussion was moderated by Chris McLeod of the Foundation for the Carolinas, and included Phillips Bragg from Bragg Financial Advisors, Debra Foster from the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and Donna Mitchell from the NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The panel focused on tactics development professionals can use to attract, cultivate and keep legacy donors:

1. Don’t be afraid. Starting the planned giving conversation can be daunting, but it is appropriate and important to talk with major donors and long-time volunteers about supporting your organization through a legacy gift. These friends of your organization see your mission as important, and it is wise to talk to them about major gifts such as a legacy gift.

2. Never miss an opportunity. Development officers are speaking with donors on a regular basis, and a missed opportunity to discuss planned giving due to a lack of preparedness is frustrating. The panel recommended having tools at your disposal to help you convey how donors can get involved. This would include: a list of gift opportunities, a list of endowments, a list of programs, and your wish list for the organization. The panel also mentioned the importance of giving donors specific examples of projects and programs. Inspire a passion for your mission and show the donor how they can work with you.

3. Do your homework. Regularly connect with several key individuals regarding planned gifts. Meet with the lawyers and accountants of your legacy donor to ensure that everyone is in agreement. Stay in touch with those professionals to confirm there aren’t any changes to the gift. Keep the donor apprised of organizational changes, updates and successes. Remember, just because the gift was arranged doesn’t mean it has been given. These donors want to feel that they are still a large part of your organization.

With a very large percentage of financial advisors discussing planned giving with their clients, it is important that your organization be prepared to attract, cultivate and keep this type of donor. Planned giving is a great way for donors to feel that they are making a significant and lasting connection with your organization, and your ability to attract and maintain these relationships is important.