Investing in Your Ministry’s Future through Legacy Giving 

What is Legacy Giving?

Legacy Giving, also known as Planned Giving, is a donation (of money, assets, property, or stocks) made by an individual to an organization or cause to be distributed during their lifetime or after their death.

Legacy Giving [or Planned Giving] is a plan people have to fund ministries beyond their own lives,” says Don Eskes.

Legacy or planned giving, is an untapped source of generosity for many ministries.  It contributes to the long-term sustainability of ministries, and taking the time to cultivate planned gifts is an investment in the future of your organization. 

The most common type of legacy or planned giving is a bequest- money left to a charity in a will or trust. In fact, 9 out of every 10 planned gifts are bequests. 

In California, revocable living trusts are often preferred to traditional wills or trusts because they minimize the delays and costs of probate. (For more information on the benefits of revocable living trusts, check out this article)

“Most ministries raise funds to fund their operations. There aren’t that many who spend time on legacy or estate giving… [but] it can have a significant impact if someone includes legacy giving in their planning,”

~ Don Eskes, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Fresno Mission

The Great Wealth Transfer

The Baby Boomer generation (born 1946 to 1964) holds a majority of the wealth in the United States, with Baby Boomers possessing more wealth than the Silent Generation, Gen X, and Millennials combined. As Baby Boomers continue to age, a great wealth transfer through wills and trusts is taking place. This provides ministries like yours with the opportunity to be included as beneficiaries in wills and trusts. 

Bequests provide the opportunity for supporters of churches and faith-based ministries to continue investing in God’s kingdom work even after their life on earth has ended. Bequests provide a deeper sense of vision and impact for donors while also helping carry out your ministry in a sustainable, long-lasting way.

      Help your Donors Give Legacy Gifts

      1. Educate donors through your current media

      The easiest way to start the bequest conversation with your supporters is to include information about giving through bequests in your current media communications. A concise statement in a social media post, newsletter, mailing, etc. informing supporters that they can make a difference through their will/trust can go a long way. 

      A tip- using age-inclusive language broadens the focus of your appeal and can help prevent older donors from feeling targeted. For example: 

      “Even if you plan to live to 150, you still need a will. Get started today.” 

      “Supporters of our organization, from 18 to 98, choose to include us in their will or trust.” 

      2. Take advantage of Make-A-Will month

      August is national Make-A-Will month, which provides a great opportunity to reach out to your supporters about including your organization in their will/trust! We created a sample email letter to give you ideas for what your Make-A-Will month communications could look like! 

      Click here for a sample email on Make-A-Will month

      If donors do not already have an attorney or financial advisor to walk them through the process of creating a will or trust, Ten Talents Foundation can refer donors to trustworthy local professionals. 

      3. Recognize planned giving donors

      Many organizations with planned giving programs offer specific recognition (often called Legacy Societies) to donors who make a bequest or other planned gift. Some ideas for recognizing planned gift donors include:

      • Featuring donor names in your annual report, on your website, or in other relevant publications highlighting their commitment to the organization.
      • Acknowledging contributions through a personalized thank-you letter or certificate of appreciation for their planned gift. 
      • Hosting special events for planned giving donors, including meet-and-greets with clients, tours of new facilities/renovations, or appreciation dinners helping donors see the long-lasting impact of their gifts.

        Additional Resources

        Here are additional resources to help you develop a deeper understanding of planned giving and bequests. Both of these resources were created by FreeWill

        How to start a planned giving program: Step-by-step guide

        Make-A-Will Month Toolkit