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Bequests and Legacies

VIDEO: The Amazing “4-S” Method for Nervous Bequest Fundraisers

In this quick video interview, Professor Russell James, Professor of Charitable Financial Planning at Texas Tech University, shares the “4-S” Method of engaging with donors about bequest giving:

  1. Story
  2. Story
  3. Story
  4. Shut up

Following this method can make the most nervous or shy fundraiser into a bequest superstar because it connects with donors on a meaningful level.

You don’t always get a “yes,” but you can count on having a good conversation! Try it! I’d welcome your thoughts and feedback in the comments section of this blog!

Want to learn everything you need to know about bequest fundraising? My online course, Your Complete Roadmap to Raising Money with Bequests is available for all members of The Fundraisingology Lab.

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Bequests and Legacies

12 Things You Need to Know about Talking to Donors about Bequests

Just the idea of talking to donors about bequests can be overwhelming. As fundraisers, we’re used to simple calls to action, quick solutions to problems, and lots of urgency.

If you’re good at fundraising, you are equipped to be good at bequest fundraising. But here are 12 things you should know that will make you a lot better at it:

  1. Donors love to give.

This is a basic truth about fundraising, but it’s especially important when talking about bequests. You are not trying to get them to do something they don’t really want to do. You are trying to suggest a different way they can do something they love doing.

  1. Most people have never thought about a bequest.

That’s the hardest part about bequest fundraising — but also what makes it so exciting. They simply haven’t thought about this great way to leave a legacy. You’re usually bringing a whole new idea to them.

  1. Older donors don’t have the same hang up you do about death.

The old “they don’t want to talk about death” excuse is rarely true about older donors. The people most likely to feel creeped-out by death conversations are younger people. Like you! But when we talk to donors about bequests, it’s really not about death… it’s about a donor’s life, their life story, their values and continuing that support into the future.

  1. Bequests are a continuation of the donor’s values and aspirations.

If you think of bequests as something that happens after they’re gone, you’re missing it. They see it as part of who they are now! Research by Professor Russell James at Texas Tech University has shown that phrases such as, “with a gift in your will you can support a cause that has been important in your life,” is particularly useful when talking to donors about bequests.

  1. Thanking is a key component of asking – recognising past gifts.

When you remind them of all they’ve already done, you pave the way for an opportunity to talk about bequests.

  1. Don’t use complex technical terminology or insider language.

Most people get lost when you use professional jargon or “contract” language. Use simple words, not formal words. Avoid terms like estate planning, estate gifts, and bequest gifts. Instead, talk about “a gift in a will.”

  1. Use soft language, asking a donor to consider a gift in their will.

Ask people to consider a bequest whenever the time is right for them. No urgency, no deadlines. This is one area where bequest fundraising is decidedly different from other fundraising! Talking to people about having a ‘lasting impact’ changes the conversation. But let’s be clear, that doesn’t mean not asking. We still need to ask for bequests, just in a slightly different way.

  1. Listen – understand why the donor gives to you – reflect that back when talking about bequests.

So hard to do sometimes! Some donors’ reasons for supporting you may surprise you. Ask questions about how a donor’s life story and experience is connected with your cause.

  1. Share stories about living donors who have done it.

Stories of others who have put your organisation in their will give social proof and inspiration. It helps them see that this is “normal.” The key to these stories is to make them feel like this is something ‘I’ could do too!

  1. Start promoting bequests in your donor newsletter.

This is an easy first step to getting the idea of bequest giving out there. Newsletters are a great place to share stories of your living bequest donors.

  1. Use fundraising and data segmentation tools to help you identify those most likely.

Not all donors are equally likely to think about a bequest. Your most committed supporters, those who are older, and those without children are those most likely, but certainly not the only ones, to be receptive to a bequest offer.

The number one way to identify interest is to include a question about bequests in your donor survey. That leaves the door wide open to having a brilliant bequest conversation. But there are other great tools to find those most likely to be interested, too.

  1. It’s okay if someone says no.

It’s inevitable. Some will flat out turn you down. They aren’t rejecting you, your organisation, or your cause. It’s just that a bequest isn’t right for them. It’s great to know that and you can respect your donor’s wishes.

Here’s the best thing you can do to jump-start an effective bequest fundraising program: Check out my online course, Your Complete Roadmap to Raising Money with Bequests. It is available for all members of The Fundraisingology Lab.

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Bequests and Legacies

The Liberating Truth Behind Smart Bequest Fundraising — It’s About Life

You are going to die. And probably sooner than you think.

Not a great way to start a conversation is it?

To hear some people talk about it, you’d think communicating with donors about bequests is like some kind of cruel, death-obsessed whack in the face. Something no polite person would ever foist on a fellow human.

I hear it all the time: People don’t want to talk about death.

That might be true. But talking to donors about including your charity in their will has nothing to do with death.

These are some of the most life-affirming kinds of conversation you’ll ever have!

Because bequest conversations are all about life. In the richest, largest, and fullest sense.

To think about leaving a charity you care about in your will is to think about the very purpose and meaning of your life. It’s about your values that live on into the future far beyond you. It leaves you feeling peaceful and empowered. Transcendent.

That’s what you talk about when you talk about bequests. Most donors absolutely love that conversation.

When someone tells me their donors don’t want to talk about death, I think I know what they really mean: They mean, I don’t want to talk about death.

It’s frankly a more difficult topic for young people than it is for older people. I know I learned that as a young bequest manager talking to older donors. At first, I had to grit my teeth and try not to show my discomfort. Gradually I discovered the beauty and joy of it — thanks to my lovely older donors and some wonderful older colleagues at work.

Bequests can and do change everything for organisations that know how to ask for them. And they are a wonderful opportunity for our donors to continue their support well into the future.

If you want to succeed at bequest fundraising, you must work from the basic assumption that it’s not about death. (It’s also not about lawyers, and not about money or taxes.)

It’s about life!

Here’s the best thing you can do to jump-start an effective bequest fundraising program: Check out my online course, Your Complete Roadmap to Raising Money with Bequests. It is available for all members of The Fundraisingology Lab.
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Bequests and Legacies

VIDEO: The Magic Words of Bequest Fundraising

Professor Russell James, Professor of Charitable Financial Planning at Texas Tech University, shares the words and phrases that help donors connect meaningfully with the topic of bequest giving.

Learn the importance of:

  • “Family” language
  • The importance of simplicity
  • The power of the word “like”

And more … all of it confirmed by neuroscience research and experience. Watch the video to learn more!

Here’s the best thing you can do to jump-start an effective bequest fundraising program: Check out my online course, Your Complete Roadmap to Raising Money with Bequests. You can access it in The Fundraisingology Lab.

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Fundraising

The Fundraiser’s Number One Challenge: The Boss

Christiana Stergiou and Jeff Brooks, Fundraisingologists at Moceanic, discuss recent polling where professional fundraisers overwhelmingly cited interference from bosses — executive directors, presidents, board members, and other authorities — to be the most significant challenge they face in their work.

We also discussed ways to solve the problem, or at least work around it — and when it’s time to leave an organization that has this problem.

Please share your thoughts by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

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Fundraising

3 Ways to Find Out More About Your Donors

Sean Triner and Christiana Stergiou, Fundraisingologists at Moceanic, answer a question from Marta, who wants to know how to smartly find out more about her donors when there’s not much transactional information about them.

There are three ways:

  1. Just wait a few years and you’ll know everything you need to know. (Easy, but not recommended because it takes so long to get critical information!)
  2. Do a Donor Survey (get access to our course inside The Fundraisingology Lab) to find out what you need to know. (The best way.)
  3. Append the data from outside sources. (Fairly good, but expensive, and sometimes less trustworthy.)

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

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Monthly Giving

How Can I Get More Monthly Donors Without a Big Budget?

Christiana Stergiou, Fundraisingologist with Moceanic, and Harvey McKinnon, Harvey McKinnon Associates tackle an important question from blog reader Bec:

How can I get more monthly givers without a big budget?

You’ll find the answers remarkably helpful. Because a big budget is not the most important key to getting those important monthly donors!

Please share your thoughts by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

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Fundraising

Fundraising in a Small Town

Christiana Stergiou and Jeff Brooks, Fundraisingologists at Moceanic answer a question from blog reader Louise:

“How Do We Raise Funds in a Small Community, where Everyone Wants to Get into the Same Donors’ Pockets”

Discover the answer to this thorny question that affects more fundraisers than you might think!

Find out more about The Fundraisingology Lab to help you make your fundraising more effective.

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Should I Delay Fundraising Because of an Election?
Fundraising

Should I Delay Fundraising Because of an Election?

Christiana Stergiou and Jeff Brooks, Fundraisingologists at Moceanic answer a question from blog reader Fiona in New Zealand:

Should I Delay My Appeal Because of an Election?

The answer might surprise you!

Please share your thoughts by leaving a reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

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Do fundraisers need to tell their story to attract more donors
Fundraising

NO! We Don’t Need to Tell Our Story!

Jeff Brooks and Christiana Stergiou from Moceanic look at the fundamental problem that arises when fundraisers focus on telling “their” story. The story that moves donors to action? Their story — not ours!

Deepen your ability to tell their story by taking Jeff’s 4-session masterclass, Irresistible Communications for Great Nonprofits. You will get access to this and more when you join The Fundraisingology Lab.

These action-packed sessions will help you be a master communicator — with lots of real-life examples that will inspire and motivate you. You can even get CFRE credit!

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