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When someone brings up the phrase legacy giving, what exactly are they talking about? You may be more familiar with the phrase “planned giving.” For most charities, legacy giving and planned giving are one and the same. In fact, when you hear the phrase planned giving, what comes to mind? If you immediately think of a charitable bequest in a will, you’re only partially there. 

Effective legacy giving is an enhancement of a donor’s resources to provide a greater impact for his or her charitable passions. Properly planned and executed legacy gifts can allow the donor to:

  • Use the asset that best meets his or her needs

  • Gift at the time of his or her choosing

  • Meet the greatest needs of his or her most beloved charity

It’s literally a win-win for both the donor and the charity.

When it comes to creating an effective legacy gift for both the donor and charity, it’s crucial to have the proper team in place. Who are your donor’s most trusted advisors? The most effective legacy gifts are woven into the donor’s retirement goals and estate plan. Even the most talented conductors in the world require a full symphony orchestra to perform—you can’t expect anyone to conduct Mozart without a string section. You can’t ask your donors to make a legacy gift without their full legacy gift team by their side. Who does this team consist of?

  • Your donor

  • An estate planning attorney

  • A certified public accountant (CPA)

  • Your donor’s financial planner

  • The charity development officer

In some cases, additional team members should be brought in to help implement the gift. It’s important the full team collaborates to help make the legacy gift as effective as possible.   

How do you know if your donors have the interest or capacity to make a legacy gift? The truth is, you don’t. However, working with your donors and their legacy gift team toward achieving their personal, financial and estate planning goals will allow you to present this opportunity to them. Here are a few questions to consider asking your donors:

  • What inspires you to make your regular contributions to our charity or not-for-profit?

  • Have you ever thought about ways to leave a lasting impact on our charity for when you’re no longer living?

  • Have you and your attorney recently updated your estate plan to meet your personal and charitable goals?

  • What kind of tax savings conversations are you having with your CPA about gifting or transferring assets?

  • How can we help add value to your current financial plan and help you achieve your charitable goals?

When it comes to legacy giving, remind your donors that you’re grateful for their bequest to your charity, and working with your legacy giving team can offer so much more. With the full team on board you can collectively plan and execute your donor’s personal, estate and charitable goals. Remember, even the best conductors can’t perform George Gershwin without a woodwind section.

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