Leading Freedom (and Fundraising) Forward
The campaign was bolstered by a matching-gift challenge by philanthropist Robert Wilson, who committed to giving a cash gift of 10 percent of every planned-giving pledge up to $100,000. (The cap was on individual gifts, not the overall funds raised.)
As a result, the Wilson Legacy Challenge raised $217 million in planned gifts and $6 million in matching funds from Wilson.
Prior to the challenge, which Wilson kept open for four years of the LFF campaign's five-year run, the ACLU was bringing in $17 million a year in bequest intentions. Afterward, McKay says, that number shot up to more than $50 million annually under the guidance of Director of Planned Giving Mohammad Zaidi, who developed an aggressive marketing campaign to reach all ACLU members.
The challenge, Romero says, gave ACLU fundraisers an easy way to talk about planned giving and more people an easy opportunity to support the organization.
"Our donors and staff and board and lay leaders had immediate incentive to review their wills because [the challenge] would mean money now," he says. "Then once you're in their wills, you can ensure the continuity of those revenues."
Other goals to be met
While planned giving was a major component of fundraising for the LFF campaign, it wasn't the only one. The ACLU also set out to engage its next generation of supporters, focusing on younger and multigenerational donors, and to inspire longtime donors to dig deeper and give larger "stretch" gifts.
On the first count, McKay says, 40 percent to 45 percent of donors who made contributions of $10,000 or more were younger than 50, including an anonymous donor in his 20s who gave $250,000. Plus, donations were coming in from the children and grandchildren of longtime supporters.
"One of my favorite civil-liberties heroes, Ellie Friedman, made it her mission to enlist her entire clan," McKay says of the campaign's multigenerational appeal, explaining that Friedman recruited her children, nieces and nephews ages 19-29, as well as many other family members across the generations and country, to support the campaign.