More notes from the recent Bridge to Integrated Fundraising and Marketing conference, this time on getting bequests.
- No, your best bequest donors are not the high-household income folks who make major gifts. Bequests almost always come from people who’ve given often, in small amounts, and you haven’t heard from in a year or so.
- Profile of a bequest donor: 83 years old, widowed last year, no children or grandchildren. Never gave more than $25, but gave at least twice a year for a decade. Great predictor I hear: made gifts in 14 of the last 21 years. But not 14 consecutive years. A few people are crunching profiles here.
- Bequests donors have wealth. Just not liquid wealth.
- Something like 96% of planned gifts are bequests, written into wills. If you have extra time on your hands, pay attention to all those annuities and other fancy financial products. If not: stick to bequests.
- Surveys are still a great way to fish for potential bequest donors. But the first question should not be “are you remembering us in your will?” but instead “have you made out a will?” … “do you have a will?” The majority of people die without wills, it seems. If you have a donor who loves you, finding out that she hasn’t made out a will can be your entry point for offering help and getting a bequest.
- Yes, it’s important to get people to reveal their bequest, and highlight them in your newsletter. New: a page on your web site dedicated to bequests … bequest STORIES, that is. Link to this from everything. Even chapter web site. The challenge: keeping it fresh. Someone has to pay attention.
- Anecdote: At a gathering of good donors, declared bequest donors were given a special tag with the name of the “bequest society.” Other donors saw this, asked, and many then inquired: I want to remember XX in my will. How do I arrange that?
- There are some very savvy consultants in the bequest field now. Get the right one.