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Legacy Strategy

Posted on 24 August 2007 at 9:16 am
Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Anonymous
    24 August 2007 at 9:16 am #2918

    I am in the process of writing a legacy strategy. Has anyone got any advice or experience that may help me, starter points, what to include etc. Many thanks for your help.

    2 September 2007 at 3:23 pm #9755

    I am in the process of writing a legacy strategy. Has anyone got any advice or experience that may help me, starter points, what to include etc. Many thanks for your help.

    Paula: My suggested starting points are those which I believe should be recognized and acted upon even before we develop the various legacy instruments (bequests, charitable trusts, paid insurance policies, etc.), advertise and promote them, recruit a volunteer legacy committee, have knowledgeable volunteer and staff professionals at the ready to broker legacy agreements, identify and rate likely major prospects, create named legacy gift opportunities, and then to actively campaign for those first legacy gifts. An apology is extended in advance should you in fact be in that latter phase of your particular legacy program to whatever degree.

    But, for starters, here are my starter points:

    (1) I would never begin a legacy program for an organization just established—even, perhaps, for one less than ten years old. Prospective donors of such funds expect to give them for the organization to use in “perpetuity,” and if an organization has no history, or very little history, there could be concern whether or not the organization will have a future.

    (2) Legacy gifts are special gifts, and are usually initially solicited from the “inside,” that is, from an established and proven donor base—beginning with the Board of Trustees. If there is no history of an annual fund campaign, from which support most legacy gifts evolve, there is very little chance to identify likely prospects.

    (3) Any legacy program should not be developed at the expense of reducing the effectiveness of the annual fund or other campaigns, and especially should not strain the volunteer and staff resources if the principal need is for cash to pay for current expenses. Legacy gifts provide useful and valuable assets for the future, so other cash-generating fund-raising activities must be operating at their best to pay for ongoing expenses.

    (4) A legacy program usually works best when it is an adjunct to a cash-generating endowment fund-raising campaign, or when endowment funds are solicited as a “cap” to a building or renovation capital campaign. Here, the endowment component provides income to help pay for future costs to operate and maintain the facility/capital asset.

    (6) You start a legacy program to be better able to help fund annual operations, to pay for special programs, projects and services— all in the long term. Long term, of course, is generally what legacy giving is all about. The fact is that about 70% of all legacy gifts are in the form of bequests, (here in the US, anyway), so those long-range funding opportunities will depend on the demise of people, making such a program a good and sound investment for the future, to be sure. But it involves funds we cannot count on should we be ascribing the legacy bequest funds at this time to specific financial projections for the future.

    Thus, this should be a forward-looking additional source of income as the “icing on the cake” to the more predictable and reliable money you receive through the annual fund, ongoing grants for programs and services, sponsorships and underwriting support, and even from earnings generated by endowment funds working in the bank and the stock market.

    All of this is somewhat labored, perhaps, regarding the best positioning which I believe a legacy program should have in the fund-raising fortunes of an organization. But I have seen far too many organizations expend far too much effort, time, and expense to install a legacy program with expectation of short-term gain—at the literal and figurative expense of a neglected Annual Fund Campaign.

    Paula: Are these applicable-to-you examples of the starter points to which you referred? In any event, where do you want to go from here—especially relative the legacy program components I cited in the first paragraph?


    2 September 2007 at 3:45 pm #9756

    Paula: I noted after the dispatch of my reply to you that I had a problem knowing how to count. There is no omission of a number (5) statement of my suggested legacy program starting points.

    My error. (I always did have a problem with numbers.)


    4 September 2007 at 2:22 pm #9757

    A “legacy strategy” is – or should be – a sub strategy of your fundraising strategy. It needs to be a perfect fit with whatever else you are doing!

    The usual strategy rules apply. Know what you are aiming for, research your audiences, know your competitors, etc…

    When it comes to the fine detail…
    Use large print and powerful graphics to communicate your message!

    Hope you do well!

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