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Legacy Giving During the Time of COVID

If you have been wondering whether it’s a good, or even appropriate, time to talk to your donors about legacy giving, the answer is YES!

People in Canada and the U.S. are writing wills at a record rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a mostly reactive effort, but we know that many of these people will revisit the estate plans that they’re making now in a more thoughtful way once the immediate crisis passes. This presents us with a great opportunity to ask to be included in those plans because people will be thinking about what’s most important to them—family safety and stability, the places we call home, and the values that we most deeply hold.

Here are TREC’s Fund Development’s Team’s 3 top tips for legacy giving right now during COVID-19:

  1. Recognize and understand that people are more moved to make legacy gifts to your group than any other cause, other than religious organizations. This is because nature, the places we’re from, the well-being of the planet, the well-being of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are among our most deeply held values–and you can be their legacy. Think of it like this; nature is just a different kind of cathedral that nourishes the soul, spirit, community, and relationships.
  2. You don’t need to hold off or hesitate to talk to donors about legacy giving. If you already had a targeted legacy mailing scheduled, go ahead and send it out! Just make sure the language feels appropriate during this pandemic. Remind your most loyal donors (monthly, major, and long-time donors) that they can give legacy gifts, and describe the huge impact they will make. Talk to your Board about how important and meaningful a legacy gift of ANY size and type is to your organization, and how it will act as an endorsement and encourage others to do the same. People are open to your message, and it’s actually timely right now.
  3. Make sure you have a short legacy giving FAQ pdf on your website. A poll of financial planners and estate attorneys in Canada asked, “What is the one thing you most need from nonprofits in order to support and work with your clients in making legacy gifts?” and this was it. Donors and financial planners want to be able to easily find information on how to make a legacy gift. And guess what! TREC has a template for you, so it’s easy to get this important step done. You can customize this for your organization and then add it in an easy-to-find place on your website, send it out with a targeted legacy giving mailing, and share it with major and monthly donors when you meet with them. This one piece will give people all of the information they need to move forward in making a high-value legacy gift to your worthy cause.

Contact: TREC, Ellie Stanley

Background Image: Raincoast Conservation Foundation | Jamen Rhodes
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