Why Don’t You Start Asking Monthly Donors for Bequests?
I’m so excited. As you’re reading this, I’m touching down in Amsterdam to attend the International Fundraising Congress in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands.
One of this year’s speakers is Richard Radcliffe. He’s not only a funny, energetic and entertaining presenter, but he’s also one of the most admired experts when it comes to legacy fundraising.
In the U.K., because of the way wills are recorded, they’re able to do a ton of legacy fundraising research. When I asked him how monthly donors respond to legacy fundraising, according to his research, donors are seven times more likely to leave you in their will.
Monthly donors are small donors (typically). On average, they give $24/month. Sometimes more, but usually not more than $85 to $100/month—tops!
So, why would they make great bequest prospects?
Well, there are a few reasons:
- They are very loyal donors. They’ll keep giving to you for many years.
- They trust you.
- They’re on a fixed budget now, but they do have assets to leave you.
- They think you’re doing a great job of telling them how you’re taking care of the children, animals, clients and people you serve.
- They also understand that it takes bigger gifts to make that happen.
- They want to leave a legacy.
All of these reasons don’t mean a thing unless you start asking them to think about leaving you in their will. There are a few great opportunities where you can consider doing this, without it costing you an arm and a leg.
Start by planting the seed in January. When you send out your tax receipt for the year, include a buck slip about leaving a legacy to your organization. Ideally include a testimonial from another monthly donor who has already done this. Give them your tax information, so that they know exactly what they give to their attorney. Give them a person to contact if they have questions. In other words, make it easy to reach you.
Then, a few months later, send a special appeal focused on bequests. That’s when you ask the donors to specifically let you know their intent. Some donors will want you to know. For example, for one of my clients, a legacy-focused appeal generated about one percent of donors telling us that they were going to leave us in their will. Two thirds of them were monthly donors. (Small donors!)
Others will not want you to know. They worry you’re going to treat them differently. These donors may still take action—go to their attorney and set up that bequest gift to your organization. You may just not find out until they pass on. That’s okay. You’ve asked them to take action, and they did.
Never think that monthly donors are too small to ask about bequest gifts. The fact that they give for multiple years and give multiple gifts is a much better indicator than anything else. So, if you need to decide whom to include in your next bequest mailing and your email message, go ahead and include your small monthly donors and your bigger donors and see which segment works better. It’s a small investment that will pay off handsomely in the long run!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.