Planned-Giving Donors Need Love Too
We all know how important recognition is — it’s an opportunity to acknowledge, thank and celebrate donors for their trust in, and commitment to, your organization’s mission. But recognition of planned-giving donors often won’t happen through conventional donor-recognition channels. That is where a heritage society comes in.
Why a heritage society?
Including planned-giving donors in outright giving clubs raises difficult issues regarding how to value and credit planned gifts. A commonly adopted option is to establish a special society known, generically, as a heritage society.
A heritage society helps ensure that planned-giving donors receive recognition and are thanked systematically. Their decisions to make deferred gifts (which are, after all, revocable in many instances) are reinforced by being part of a group and by connecting them with other far-thinking individuals. In addition, a heritage society can be a very helpful way to initiate conversations with prospects about their legacy planning and possible future gifts.
Who can join?
Since one of the underlying purposes behind the society is to strengthen relationships with your organization, it’s to your advantage to be generously inclusive. In that spirit, all donors who make future financial provisions for the organization should qualify. This means any donors who establish life income arrangements (charitable trusts, gift annuities), arrange for retained life estates or donate life insurance policies (all irrevocable), as well as those providing for bequests or naming your organization as a beneficiary of their retirement plans or life insurance policies (revocable). The common theme of these donors is their belief that providing for the future of the organization is important.
Two things follow from this inclusiveness. First, required “proof” of a gift should be minimal. Any written or verbal indication of a commitment should be sufficient; more formal documentation could follow, but it doesn’t really matter whether it does or not. Very rarely will donors tell you they have made these types of gifts when they haven’t. Second, there should not be a minimum required gift size. By their very nature, bequest gifts are difficult to “value” and to “credit” and might even vary over a donor’s lifetime (for example, a gift of a stated percent of the donor’s residual estate). No purpose is achieved by excluding a deferred gift donor.