August was National Make-A-Will Month.
To celebrate the august August, I compiled 18 reasons why wills – simple charitable bequests – are the way to launch your Planned Giving program.
I published them in segments on LinkedIn throughout the month, but here they are together in one place, for easy reading and posterity.
1. Wills are the most popular planned gift, by far. Expect 75-90 percent of your planned gifts to be in wills.
2. You don’t need to educate your potential donors. Everyone knows what a will is, how a will works, and that they need one.
3. You don’t have to educate your staff. Ditto.
4. There’s no lifetime cost. Charitable bequests are gifts of cash to your nonprofit at the death of the donor. This enables gifts from donors who can’t afford something sizable while they’re living.
5. You’ll grow your endowment. The vast majority of gifts by will are unrestricted. I encourage you to seize the opportunity and preserve as much as possible in your endowment.
6. You’ll strengthen your sustainability. A strong, growing endowment protects your important work during inevitable low revenue periods.
7. Your donors don’t have to tell you about the gifts in their wills. That’s a comfort to many folks, and along with #4, it’s a reason for #1.
8. It’s easy for your donors. Each one speaks to their attorney to get you added to their will. Wills are the simplest of all the planned gifts, another reason they’re the most popular.
9. Donors can change their minds. Only about 4 percent do, but like #7, it’s a comfort. And another reason for #1. (See how so many of these are related!)
10. Most are gifts of cash. The overwhelming majority of these gifts are simple cash. Don’t get bogged down worrying you’ll be given something you can’t use, like a junk car. That’s misplaced thinking; it rarely, rarely ever happens.
11. This is the ideal long-term gift for your donors of modest means. See #4.
12. There are no tax issues. Fewer than 1 percent of estates are taxable, so more than 99 percent of the time, taxes aren’t in play.
13. Most gifts are unrestricted. Unrestricted cash (see #10), there’s no better gift.
14. Everyone needs a will. Amplifying this from #2, you have quite a large prospect pool.
15. There’s a lot of value in residual estates. That’s the part left after death and other expenses, creditors, and outright bequests have been paid. Don’t think residual means pennies. I once worked on a $3 million estate with $2.8 million in the residual. Large residuals are common.
16. The average charitable bequest is $35,000.
17. Nearly anyone can afford a $1,000 charitable bequest. Though way below the average, that’s not a bad gift.
18. You’ll enjoy deeper donor relationships. Opening the conversation about a gift by will, recognizes a donor’s loyalty and commitment to your mission. When done right, donors appreciate you asking.
That’s one for each hole on your next round of golf. If you’re like me, it’ll be miniature golf. (In the South, it’s putt putt golf.)
But there’s nothing miniature about gifts by will for your nonprofit. They’re outsize in popularity, simplicity, return on investment, donor relations, and value to your mission.
I can barely wait for next August!