Legacy Fundraising During A Pandemic
Ligia Peña, CFRE, MInstF will show you how to adapt your gifts in will program so that you continue growing your program during the pandemic.
Steven: Okay. Ligia, 2:00 Eastern. It’s also Eastern for you, right? In Montreal. You’re East of me, so, right?
Ligia: Yeah. It’s 2:00 here too.
Steven: Okay. Well, let’s get it going. Is that okay with you? I’ll kick things off.
Ligia: Let’s do it. Let’s share.
Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon. There she is. Hey, everybody, thanks for being here. Good afternoon if you’re on the East Coast, good morning if you’re out West. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Legacy Fundraising During a Pandemic.” Thanks so much for being here. I know you’re probably pretty busy and overwhelmed with things, so appreciate seeing a full room. Hope you’re all doing okay. Hope you’re staying healthy. Hope you’re saying productive. I’m Steven over at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion.
So just a couple of housekeeping items before we get going. Just want to let you all know that we are recording this session. We’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides a little bit later on this afternoon. We’ll get you . . . any of the goodies mentioned in the presentation, we’ll get you all that good stuff. Just look for an email from me later on this afternoon.
But most importantly, please feel free to chat in any questions or comments you might have throughout the hour. We’re going to try to save some time at the end for Q&A. So don’t be shy, don’t sit on your hands. We’d love for these to be interactive. You can send us a tweet. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed. We’ve got chat box here, a Q&A box. Just send us your questions, we’ll find them. We’ll try to answer them before 3:00 Eastern hour.
And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say an extra special welcome to all of you folks. We do these webinars quite often. Normally, they’re once a week, but we’ve been doing one a day over the last few months or so . . . a few weeks or so. And besides just webinars, what we are most known for is our donor management software. So if you are interested in that or you want to learn more about us, check out our website. You can go watch some videos. You can get a video tour of the software. That’s what Bloomerang is, I just say that for context in case you’ve never heard of us. But we love doing these webinars. One of my favorite things we do, actually. And I always am happy to have my buddy, Ligia here from beautiful Montreal. How is it going? Are you doing okay? You’re awesome. Thanks for doing this for us.
Ligia: Oh, it’s my pleasure. You know, I’m a legacy geek so I love talking about this all the time.
Steven: I mean, you said it. You’re on my very short list of go-to people when it comes to legacy planned giving, bequests because you do it, you’re the global legacy manager over at Greenpeace. So, folks, this is someone who does this for a living. This is someone who knows her stuff for sure. She is often on the road traveling internationally, not just helping out clients, but speaking, going to conferences, doing webinars. She’s awesome. She’s one of my favorite people.
And, by the way, this was her idea. She approached us because she wants to help you folks. And I couldn’t wait to put her on the schedule because this is . . . one of the top questions I’ve been getting leads over the past few weeks, Ligia, is should we start doing this? Is it appropriate? Should we stop it? What should we do? And you’re going to all those questions. So I’m going to pipe down because no one wants to hear from me. I’ll let you just share your screen because so you got some awesome information for us.
Ligia: Brilliant. Okay. Hi, everyone. I’m very happy to be here. So I just want to say first, I do have I do have a bit of an asthma issue so I sometimes have to cough. So I will try to mute myself very quickly when I see a cough coming so that you don’t have to hear me hacking. So I do apologize for that, but that is life with chronic asthma.
All right. So we’re talking about legacies, planned giving, gifts and wills, bequests, whatever terminology you want to use. So we’re talking about what to do with your planned giving program during this pandemic. Oops. Here we go. So what are we going to talk about today? So we’re going to look at what to avoid doing, what you . . . There are a few things you should avoid doing. But everything else, I’ll be talking about also what you can do, some general observations of what’s happening around the globe right now, and some tactics that you can implement today. And let me tell you, these tactics do not require any money. And if it does, it’s very minimal. So hang with me. So this is me. You’re getting these slides, so I’m not going to read this to you.
So first and foremost, what not to do. There are a few things that you should not be doing and they’re pretty straightforward. So you do not want to avoid talking about the current situation. The reason being is that everyone is in this situation, we’re all acknowledging it, and you do not want to appear like you are living under a rock and you are trying to avoid the current situation. So acknowledging it and understand, being very honest about how your organization is coping and handling it will make your donors feel more connected to you. And I will come back to you on this a little later on and I’ll go into greater details about this.
Another thing you do not want to do is stop promoting legacies. Don’t do that. If anything, you need to continue promoting that. And I’ll tell you why in a minute or two. So the worst thing you can do and sadly, I have spoken to a few fundraisers who have confided in me and fundraisers in different kinds of organizations across the world whose board and senior management have told them to stop fundraising and especially to stop promoting legacies. And that is a very big mistake because it’s basically . . . first of all, we’ll know fundraising is essentially a revenue-generating line and a budget code, so why would you want to cut yourself with a need? Right? So that is happening. And so we need to not stop promoting legacies.
Another thing that is also happening and in a way it’s understandable, but you need to be careful about that is to cut your legacy marketing budget. Please make sure that senior management does not cut your legacy marketing. I understand that in some organizations you need to cut the budget so that you can redirect that to new ways of prospecting and identifying, doing some lead generation. But please for God’s sake, don’t cut your marketing budget. This is when you should be probably talking more about legacies, and I’ll go into greater details as we progress over the next hour.
And, of course, do not stop communicating with your supporters. Most likely, all the individuals, all your donors who are in your legacy pipeline are older doors, they’re quarantining in some form or another. They are at home probably alone practicing their physical distancing, probably not being able to see family and friends. And so they feel isolated. So you can be part of that joyful call that they would get during the day. So I’ll come back to that as well.
But the biggest thing is don’t lose focus from the big picture. So whatever it is, whatever your overarching goals were for your legacy program for this year and for the next few years, whatever those were, don’t lose track of that. Don’t lose focus from the big picture because everything you’re doing now can make a huge difference in the future of your legacy program because we know that the investment in legacy marketing is not a direct line like it would be with an annual campaign with an event with major gifts, for instance.
Whatever actions you take or choose not to take today could have a significant impact in your program in 3 years, in 5 years, in 10 years from now. So don’t sell yourself short. Keep our eye on the prize, on the big prize. Don’t let yourself get bogged down by the current situation. Because the reason being is that there’s something very big that’s happening in many markets and this is not just in the U.S. or here in Canada where I am, but all over the world, we’re seeing that people rushing to write or update their will right now. And here’s a few numbers for you to see the magnitude of the situation.
So Willful here in Canada is a digital will writing service, just like Gentreo. And there are many, many, like there’s the Free Will Network, there’s all kinds. There’s several, several products like that in Canada and the U.S. Willful in Canada saw 160% increase in March from week to week of people flocking to their website to do their will electronically in the U.S. Gentreo, one of the providers during the week of March 25th, they saw a 43% increase from previous week.
So it’s quite surprising. It’s quite impressive, the number of people who are finally realizing that they need to get their affairs in order. In the UK, the Law Society saw a 30% increase . . . this data was from the beginning of March. And I suspect that by now I wasn’t able to find a more recent statistic, but I suspect that between the month of March and up until today, I suspect that that number has significantly increased.
So it’s really, really important to recognize that people are scared and they’re coming to terms with their own mortality. And that is the topic of my blog that I wrote this morning, is we’re seeing these numbers because people realize that they can no longer procrastinate the process of writing a will. Of course, there is a caution and the biggest challenge in many, many countries is getting witnesses. And so law societies and the government are looking at ways to overcome that in order to make sure that wills are legal regardless. But that’s a completely different topic, not for today.
So what can you do? Okay? Because I already told you what not to do. But there are many things that you can do and I’ve laid out six different tactics that you can do. Now, I’m not saying you need to do absolutely everything because I recognize that perhaps your organization right now is shifting a lot of your priorities and your tactics in order to make sure that you can continue fundraising in general. But the idea here is to share with you as many ideas as possible, as many times tactics that you can implement either in the short term or medium term so that you can overcome the situation and ensure that your legacy program continues progressing.
So the first one is, you know . . . and this is in response to having so many people being aware that they need to write their will, is get your legacy page up or update it. If you do not currently have a page dedicated to gifts and wills on your website, get it up there. If you have one, take some time to review it, update it, refresh it, make it accessible, make it easier to find. Basically, your donor, if they want to write a will and they’re like at that point where they’re ready to sign now, you need to make it so that they can get to that page within two or three clicks, no more than that. If it’s more than that, they give up, they move on, they forget about you, and they go to their next charity. So b) make it very, very easy for them to find you.
So they will be looking for information so that they can write or update their will. So what you can do is make sure that your web copy is inspiring, it makes them feel safe. It’s not about, you know, the fiscal advantages and all of that. That’s something that you shouldn’t even have on your website in the first place. That is not what gets to your donor’s heart. What goes to your donors are inspiring stories, testimonials from other legacy pledgers that have already left a gift in the will to you.
If you haven’t thought of it and you want to partner with a digital will writing service, look at what services are available in your area, in your market. So I don’t want to make an assumption that everybody that’s on this webinar right now is from the U.S. or is from Canada or is from wherever. So, but look at what options are available for you and what is the best option, you know, in terms of the cost and the functionalities and so on and consider offering that service to your donors. It’s all about providing value for your donors so that you can make it easier for them.
Your website could also provide a sample bequest language where, you know, different options. Keep it very, very, super simple, right? You don’t want it to be a three-page document with, “Well, if you want to do this, do that. If you want to do that . . . ” No. Keep it very simple. Pecuniary, residual gift. This is the sample language, make your complete corporate information very clear, your mailing address, etc. And always provide the name of a person. Not a hello, not a planned giving at organization, ABC. No, no, no, no. Make it personal. [email protected], you know, an email address so that they know that if they have any questions, they have a person.
What’s very, very important when it comes to planned giving is that donors, especially the Baby Boomer generation, they need to like they’re talking to a person. And so these blanket emails, info ad or those kinds, they kill your planned giving program. Okay? So make it personal, give it your personal email and well, your personal cell phone number or whatever the case may be.
You can also offer a simple codicil. So what would be the codicil language that is appropriate in your province, in your state, in your market. So there’s different legal systems, so, you know, make sure that you do your research to make sure that whatever sample language you’re offering is appropriate for your market, where you are.
And a very simple, easy tech thing that honestly, like your web person would be able to do this . . . trust me, I was able to do with my own website. So if I can do it and I have zero tech skills, then I’m sure you can do it, is capture web visitors by using a pop-up. So when someone comes to the page for your legacy page and wants to download the sample bequest language or a sample codicil or whatever document there is, make it a pop-up so that a pop-up or a signup form. And I mean, you’ve all seen them so that you can capture their information and you can follow up with them. The reason why I’ve put this in there, and I know sometimes with some organizations, especially small organizations, I worked most of my career in small organizations where, you know, getting all of these things were more challenging, so I totally get where you’re coming from.
But this is a very simple thing that a lot of like email marketing platforms can offer that very simply. But the reason why it’s important to capture this information is what we’ve seen globally. So when I say globally is I’m talking about my counterparts in other international NGOs, we share a lot of our information and what we’ve noticed internationally is that about 55% to 65% of gifts and wills that come in are usually from individuals who were completely unknown to the organization. And when I’ve shared this statistic in webinars or in conferences, I’m astounded that even local organizations, small or medium-size organizations also have . . . actually, I’ve even heard as far as 75% of bequests come in from people who were not known to be organization. You know, we’re talking about a local organization. So the reason why it’s important to capture this information, this pop-up is because it allows you, at least to up with your donor.
All right. So, Steven, maybe I should stop and check if there’s any questions coming up to see if I should answer?
Steven: Yeah. We got one question coming from a fundraiser who . . .
Ligia: Jason. Yeah, I know Jason.
Steven: Yeah. What do you think about someone who complains that you were marketing these things, maybe you went right to the head of the organization. Should you let one piece of feedback totally stop you? I mean, it seems like not everyone would feel that way even if you do get some complaints.
Ligia: You know, odds are, is that they would have probably complained whether you’re in a pandemic or not, right? Because you will get those kinds of complaints even when there is no crisis happening. Okay? So, you know, would you change your entire strategy over one person? No, but one person means . . . to me, I see one complaint as someone who cared so much for your organization that they were willing to go back and write to you and say that they were dissatisfied or unhappy with what you did. So I see that as an opportunity more than anything else for you to engage with them and have a one-on-one conversation and say, “Well, I’m really sorry you felt that way. It wasn’t intended in any negative way. However, we’ve seen that a lot of people find this information incredibly important because a lot of people are writing their wills right now, and so we want to make it easier for you.” So when you frame it that way, then usually the issue is the issue goes away.
I’ll give you an example. You know, I was talking to my colleague at Greenpeace, Germany and she was saying that they did a mail out as well. They had it planned well before the pandemic hit and they decided to go ahead. They modified it a little bit, the language, and out of everybody, only one person . . . And I think it’s sent out to a little over 2000 people and only one person kind of complained but complained in a way that they also turned around and said, “But I also understand that that’s just my personal opinion and other people might find value.” So, you know, there you go.
We don’t have a legacy gift page brochure. Do you have content that I can look at to get started? So, Cheryl, at the end of the webinar, you’ll have my contact information. You can fire off an email to me and you and I can talk and I can share some resources.
So Marianne is asking . . . Hi, Marianne. I know her too as well. Pop-Up mandatory for them to give their name and contact info before they can download or not? Well, if they would have to complete a pop-up, they would have to give at least their email and name. And so, yeah, you can. I mean, you could do a test to, is it, you know, are you getting drop-offs or not? And most of the time, usually, it’s not really an issue because anyone that wants to sign up to anything, they would have to provide their email address. Even if they just give their email address, at least it gives you a little something that you can say, “Hey, we saw you downloaded this. Do you have any questions?” It’s just, you know, good customer service. And dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.
Chelsea, “Can we talk a little bit more about pop-up options for web summary planned giving landing page? That’s why I did it here. I should not have the how of . . . ” Oh, wow. Everything is moving really fast and I don’t know . . . Steven, are people seeing these Q&A’s? Do I have to read them back?
Ligia: Okay, good. Okay. Because sometimes they don’t so, you know, you have to read them. Pop-up options for website on your planned giving landing page. As a follow-up, did I hear you say you should not have the how of planned giving sharing details like your website? So, okay. Your legacy page could have some information about how. What I was referring to is don’t make all your legacy copy be about the fiscal advantages to the estate of leaving a gift in the will. That’s what I’m talking about.
Yes, you should have language that says, you know, this is how you can leave a gift in the will, but the message, the key message you want to convey to your donors is the impact they will have through their gift in their will. Do you know what I mean? It’s more about that from that angle and spend less, you know, because I’ve seen . . . I still see a lot of websites, they’re like, “Oh, leave a gift in your will because, you know, your [C 00:22:26] will benefit from it.” It doesn’t pull at their heartstrings, you know?
All right. So I’m going to get to continue because I’m mindful of the time, but keep the questions in there and I’ll come back and I’ll try to get back to the questions that I can’t get to it. But really quickly, should the sample codicil be prepared by an attorney, you can get samples online and then you should have it double-checked by a lawyer so that you can make sure that it’s compliant. So you don’t want to find yourself giving wrong information to your donors.
All right. So I’m going to continue to the next stage because we still have five more to go and then come back to the questions that I did get to answer. So hang in there. All right. So the next one, replace your in-person for a virtual. So I know many of you have probably had a bunch of, you know, one-on-one meetings scheduled. You have probably had events planned, legacy events, you know, notary or attorney events planned and now suddenly, boom, “No can do.” And I know like some of this stuff you’re going to go, “Well, duh, of course.” But take them virtual.
And I think now . . . I mean, at Greenpeace, we’ve been using Zoom for a couple of years and before that we were using another platform. So we’re used to it, but I recognize that for a lot of organizations, the last month or so has been a huge adjustment to learn Zoom and get used to that and a lot of people playing with the virtual backgrounds and everything. But this is an easy tool and the great thing is that, you know, your donors don’t even need to download the app. They can just go straight online, right? So you can make it really, really easy for them in that way.
So invite your pledgers, invite your donors and your pipeline to take part in the virtual events, either with your CEO or ED, whatever, you know, the case may be with your program staff or even with you, or if you were planning to have, you know, a will writing seminar, you know, talk to talk to the attorney or the notary to see if they would be willing to do it virtually in that way.
Record every event and then share it in an email. You know, give it as a special, you know, preview, for instance. You can even do Facebook lives. And Facebook live events are really super simple. And Facebook is probably the best place you could do it and it’s easy because we know that the growing demographic on Facebook are people over the age of 55. So odds are most of the people in your pipeline would already be on Facebook. So scheduling a Facebook live and inviting them to go in it, they’re already on Facebook, then they already know the technology, so it’s pretty easy peasy, right? So, you know, use tools that you’ll know will make it easier.
And the messaging should always focus on the collective wellbeing, providing value to the call so, you know, providing them like ideas of how they can continue coping with this situation. So, for instance, I’ll give you a very simple example. Some of our Greenpeace offices, what they’re doing is sharing, you know, doing like little virtual events with donors. To show them like, “Oh, well how can you grow a little garden while you’re, you know, physically distancing from everybody else?” You know, like the little green-related things. You know, that that mail out that I was telling you about that my colleague in Germany sent out. Well, in that mail out, she sent out seeds for plants and said, “Well, you know what? Well, we’re all stuck at home. What a great way to plant these little seeds and see something blossom while you’re physically distancing.” So things like that. So, you know, this is a great opportunity to bring value to your donors in a different way.
And another idea that I failed to add on this, which is I thought was . . . Oh, make it light and fun to connect on an even more personal, especially if they came to see you at home, right? Now they get to see in a different way. You know, we always try to separate the personal from the professional with our donors. But in this current, like, you know, the rule book has a little change now with this, you know, a stay at home situation. And so I think donors will most like to connect even more with you now because they’ll be able to see you in your natural environment and you’ll see them in their natural environment. And I think there’s a lot of pluses to this in a way.
And then also one last idea that I didn’t put on here that we brainstorm with a bunch of fundraisers was, you know, for donors who don’t, you know, something that’s come up in this time of, you know, working from home is the realization that there are some areas in, you know, in our communities where they don’t have access to high speed internet where, you know, internet is lacking or, you know, they’re in a rural area, they probably don’t have a computer or they’re not tech savvy enough, and it’s a little bit too difficult for them to do all this virtual stuff.
Well, if you were planning, let’s say a virtual event and you hold it, then you record it and everyone is recording these things or if you were planning to have, let’s say an attorney event like a will writing event, you could always record them ahead of time, burn them on a DVD, remember those DVDs, remember that machine, that you can, you know, record them on a DVD and mail them out to those donors who don’t have access to the internet, who are not comfortable enough with their tech. This is all about thinking very creatively and going back to like our old way of working where we would mail out the DVDs, go back to what Netflix looked like at the beginning, which was never a streaming service. It was a mail order DVD rental place. So go back to that that, go back to the roots of how things were late ’90s, early 2000s.
All right. Next idea, idea number three. Ramp up your stewardship. Of course, this is the perfect time to build those relationships and to get really, really personal with your donors. Regardless of where they are in that pipeline, whether they are pledgers, or inquirers, or intenders, or considers, it’s a good time to connect with them. So show a lot of empathy. You know, right now, it’s no fun. It kind of sucks to be stuck at home. So what can we do? Commiserate or come up with ideas to make the best of it. Right? So keep your donors informed of how you are figuring out how to deliver your programs. And your donors are curious. I’ve had donors asked like, “Well, so how are, you know, food banks delivering their programs? How are they adapting for this? How are you all adapting?” You know? We’ve had donors asked us at Greenpeace, “Well, you usually do a lot of physical stuff outside these actions and this so and so. What are you doing?” And a lot of the biggest concern was, well, what’s happening with our ships? We have three ships that are in different parts of the world. What’s happening to them? And so it’s been really, really interesting to share that with your donors. Your donors are interested. Excuse me, I’m going to have a little bit of water.
Pardon me. So, you know, ramping up your stewardship, whether it’s through handwritten cards or digital cards, if that is easier for you, just checking in, calling and just saying we just want to check in to see how you’re doing. Let’s not forget that a lot of our donors in our pipeline, especially our pledgers they’re, you know, like I said before, they’re at home and they probably are not being visited. Like, you know, they’re not being visited like they normally are or they’re not hearing from, you know, they don’t have their social network in front of them all the time. And so getting that phone call can make a really, really huge difference. So this is what we can be doing right now. And I suspect you’re probably already doing that.
So let me pop into the Q&A and see. Okay. So Jeanette is asking to go more into the website. So how about we pin that and I’ll come back to it at the end. How’s that? Okay? So we can cover the other topics, the other things we could do. And I’ll come back to your question, Jeanette.
So next, follow up on pledge commitments. So you have people who have said that they are pledging a gift in their will to your organization, so get them to confirm their gift. Okay? So I know that oftentimes when a donor says, “Yes, I’ve put you in our will,” we take that at face value. But there’s often a lot of information that we don’t know and we make assumptions, right? We don’t know if it’s a residual gift, if it’s a pecuniary gift, if it’s designated or not. We don’t know how or if they to be recognized. You know, sometimes they’ll give you that information, sometimes they will not.
So I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of a gift commitment form or a gift and announcement form. I don’t like to use commitment actually because, you know, we know that wills can be changed at any time, so a commitment does not necessarily mean a commitment forever. So review your pledge or file, send the . . . Whoops. Pledge announcement form, not commitment form. My bad. I need to fix that. So you can send that by mail or electronically.
So if you heard me do this webinar in the past or if you’ve heard me speak before, you probably have heard me talk about this form. And basically, it’s an internal form. It is not legally binding and it enables the donor to share with you the terms of the gift, but also how they want to be recognized if they want to be recognized. So, you know, they can say, “Well, I’ve left . . . ” you know, “The terms of the gift are, I’ve left $10,000,” Or, “Fifteen percent of my estate is going to your organization.” Or, “I’m leaving this work of art or that property,” or whatever the case may be. They can also choose to let you know how they want their gift recognized, the estate of who so that. They also can share the name of their executor and their contact information so that you can be informed and you can stay in touch with the executor.
And then the last bit . . . Oh, you can also, and this is your choice, you can also give them an option to designate their gift. So if you do offer your donors designation, so for different programs, you may be running, for scholarships, for education grants, whatever the case may be, you can give them that option. And so they can tell you if that’s what they want, if you give them the opportunity to endow their gift, either all of it or part of it, you can put wording there about the kinds of endowments and what the terms are and so on.
And then lastly, which is the part that I like the most, and this is perhaps to me, the most important section of the document, is a message to the future generations. It’s kind of a bit of a testimonial, but it’s a message that they would be conveying to the next generation that will be benefiting from the gift. And I think that’s the most beautiful bit. And so that’s a document that you could have as well either on your website or something that you would give in at this stage.
So why am I saying this? Well, this form, you can either send it them by mail and invite them to complete it or when you do your phone calls, your stewardship calls, you could say, “Well, listen, would you be willing to answer these questions for us? That will help us be able to better manage your gift when it comes in.” And so you can take the time to complete it together if you don’t think that they’ll answer it and send it back to you by mail. So, yeah . . . Or if you already are doing something like that, if you have already sent it, then you can then follow up with them. And so that’s a good . . . another reason to steward your donors.
All right. So let me quickly stop this. See what Q&A’s have come in to see. So Anonymous is asking, “I have donors in my portfolio that I have not yet met. What approach should I use when calling to check in?” Just saying, “Well, hey, I’m calling to introduce myself and, you know, unfortunately, we have not had an opportunity to talk before, but I’m working from home and I thought this would be a great opportunity to check in and see how you’re doing.” That’s it. And then let the conversation go from them from there. And donors are going to basically direct the conversation from there. If and if it’s not a good time for them, that’s fine. Be very humble and say, “Okay, great, no problem. We’ll talk another time.” And then you can put a ticker in your database to remind you to check in with them later on.
Do I have an example of a gift announcement form? Well, of course I do. So at the end of the webinar, you’ll have my email. You can flip me an email and I’ll be happy to send it to you.
Could sending the pledge form be offensive during this crisis? Let’s not forget that this form would be sent to those who have already committed, who have notified you that that you were in their will. So it’s not like you’re trying to get a gift, is you’re just confirming it. So, you know, so basically they technically shouldn’t be like, as far as I would think that they wouldn’t necessarily get offended because they already had told you that you were in their will. So you’re just basically following up with them and saying, “Well, you know, would you like to give us more information so that we can better steward you or we can better serve you in the future?”
So you have to feel it out. You know, a lot of it is really like, how do you know the person? If you know that it’s a donor that’s a little bit prickly, well, of course not, don’t send it to them. Leave it at this. But if it’s someone that really, really is always happy and excited to hear from you, then absolutely, test it out and do a few tests with different donors and feel out how people are reacting to it. And if the answer is, “X, that’s not going to work,” then don’t, it’s okay.
Can you please say more about the message to a future generation? It’s something we’re committing to get to their loved ones. So, no, it’s more about . . . So let’s say you’re an organization that works in social services. So what would be the . . . you know, what is it that the donor wants to convey to the beneficiaries of your program? Okay? So it’s from that angle, that message. It’s kind of a testimonial to the next generation who will be benefiting from the gifts in the will. So I hope that makes more sense.
So Amy’s asking, “Is there a way to solicit gifts, legacy gifts sensitively during the crisis? What language would you use to make a legacy gift ask?” So right now, making an actual ask would require you knowing more information about the donor and where they are in their thought process. So let’s say someone, and I think I was coming to that. I think that’s my next slide if memory serves me right, basically it’s about if someone had inquired and had requested information and you had sent to them, the information, then it is okay for you to follow up and say, “Well, are you at that stage? Did you have any questions? And is this something that you’re ready to do now at this moment?” So it’s a different type of ask. It’s a much softer ask than you would do under normal circumstances because, again, you know, I think I mentioned this on at the beginning of the hour, you do not want to sound like you’re an ambulance-chaser, basically. So you have to word your ask very delicately in that way. I hope that makes sense.
Hi, Natalia. Nice to nice to have you here. “What if donors will ask advice to their notary and they have to . . . if they have to fill a pledge commitment form? My experience is that notaries don’t advise to fill a pledge commitment.” It’s quite possible. You know, in the pledge commitment form, what’s really important and in my template, it clearly indicates. You know, one of the big, big things at the top of the form, and I think if you develop one from scratch or if you want to use the template that I have, it’s very important to highlight that this is not legally binding document. It’s basically a tool to help us better serve the donor. And so it’s not a . . . you know, and you can even add in a sentence that says, “We recognize that you might change your will from the moment that you complete this form to, you know, the future.” So recognizing the limitations, you know, you can make sure that it’s written in your document that you recognize the limitations and that it is not, you know, you are not holding the donor to account for this. So I think this could be good enough and you can convey that on your conversation with them. So it should be okay.
All right. Moving on. And next part. So report on impact. This is a great time. So through your stewardship calls, reporting on impact, and thanking your donors for their contribution, whether they are, you know, for their pledge and especially if they also continued being an annual donor to your organization. So if you don’t already have a donor impact report, well, what a great opportunity to do it now? So before I started working at Greenpeace, I worked at a very small local organization. I was the only fundraiser on staff, and we created a donor impact report in . . . I think it took me about two weeks to get it all done on Word template. You know, they’ve got these great templates, low budget. My biggest expense was the stamp and the printing and the stamping. But you can do it electronically, especially if you have your donor’s email address. Hopefully you do. But if you don’t, you can still print it out. I think in most places that service is still available.
So doing something like that with a very strong message about legacies. I’m very happy that Natalia is here on the call because I give to the organization where she is and I received, a couple of months ago, their donor impact report and it was so good and it was so impactful and so heartwarming. And although it didn’t have a legacy message in there, it prompted me to want to leave a legacy to them. So it’s coming. I need to update my will now.
So you can send the donor impact report by mail or electronically. You know, you have to look at, you know, your mail services if it’s still possible right now, but there’s always a way to do it. And then use that report as an engagement tool. It’s all about engaging in conversations with your donors so you could send it out and then follow up with them and use that as your reason to reach out to them. Right? Because I know sometimes you’re looking at the phone and the phone feels like it weighs 300 tons because you’re like, “Well, what am I going to talk with them about this? Like what in the world could I say to them that will be interesting enough to make a phone call?” And so now having a donor impact report could be your nudge, basically. So, yeah, so follow up by telephone,
And lastly, keep your pipeline moving. It goes back to the question about making the ask. So this is not the time to let, you know, your inquirers, you considerers, your intenders, anybody in your pipeline to . . . you know, it’s not the time to let them forget you. Okay? Because we know how hard it is to get them into that pipeline. If you stop talking to them, if you stop engaging with them, they will forget you. And another organization who is not stopping during the pandemic will pick them up. So don’t leave them. It’s hard enough to get them through the door in the first place. Keep them here. And especially that seeing as everyone is home, your response rate will be through the roof. It’ll bust any KPI you may have been trying to hit in the past.
So jump on a call to ask them if they have questions, if you can provide value to them, if you can, you know, provide them with additional information. You know, anybody you had a tagged as an inquirer in your pipeline, ask them if they read the information. Do they need to have another copy of it? Can you answer any question they may have? Continue building that trust so that they can feel that they can really, really, they know exactly how the gift will be used and how the impact of their gift will change the life of those that you’re trying to serve.
You know, if needs be, get a program person to jump on the call with you. You know, this is a great time for your program people to also call the donors to say, you know, “Thanks, this is what we’re doing right now.” Resend the documentation if needs be. You know, people forget. I lose stuff all the time. If you’d see my desk, like although I keep my office clean, but I have piles of paper where it’s a mishmash of stuff. I’m sure I’m, you know, I’m like anybody else, right? And so don’t assume that your donor has necessarily kept that brochure or that leaflet you sent them months ago or two weeks ago. And then offer them sample bequest language in codicil. This is like the cornerstone of your planned giving program. It’s that sample language so that they know exactly what to do and how to do it.
And then, you know, the biggest thing is also is, you know, I know I’ve mentioned this several times about providing value, but a will writing a workbook. And so this is different than all the other tools I’ve mentioned before. It’s basically a simple workbook that can help your donors start planning out whenever they will go see their will. And there are several examples out there. I’m currently working on a template one, so if you’re interested, you can reach out to me on my website and I’ll be happy to share it with you once I have it ready. I’m about halfway there.
But it’s basically, it literally is a workbook whereby the donor would complete that where they would write, “Okay, well, you know, if they have kids, you know, are they thinking about who will be their kids under the age of maturity?” You know, how have they thought about who would be the guardians and what would be the, you know, do they want to set up a trust for their kids and do a new list of their inventory of their assets so that then they can decide like who will get, you know, the immediate gifts, what will be the residual gifts, etc., etc., all that kind of stuff. It’s basically something that they could do before going to see their lawyer. And so that brings value to them and they’ll remember that. So that is a great tool to be sharing with your donors right now.
And so the most important thing is that at the end of the day, this too shall pass. We know this. And, you know, I didn’t want to be facetious or anything, but it’s true that right now it, you know, we know it’s not the best situation, but we can continue moving our legacy program because all of this will pass. And the worst thing you can do is to not be prepared for the next phase when things start reactivating and reworking. You do not want to have to go back to the drawing board. You want to be able to pick up and continue. Not even pick up where you left off, you want to continue what you’ve been building all this time so that you can then be ahead of the ball.
So let’s go to the questions. So for those of you were asking questions about samples and this and that, this is where you can write to me and I will get you those templates right away. And I’m also currently offering a free 30-minute coaching call with me if you want to. Oops, what did I do? I did something. Your share desktop. Oh, God, I’ve gone black. I don’t know what . . .
Steven: I think you’re still sharing, Ligia. I think it’s your slides went away, is all. We’re still seeing your computer, I believe.
Ligia: Well, I don’t know what’s going on. Oh, here we go.
Steven: There it is. Yeah. We see it now.
Ligia: I don’t know, for some reason, my screen went completely black and I couldn’t see my PowerPoint anymore. But yeah, I’m offering a free 30-minute coaching call with me if you are interested.
All right. So for the remainder of the time we can address the question, so Jeanette had asked . . . I said I was going to address Jeanette’s question about your website, “Can you touch more on websites suggestions like graphs or brochure links and info?” Really, honestly, it should be as simple as possible. So first and foremost, making sure that you’re . . . Organize your thoughts, Ligia. I get excited. And you want to make sure that the font is big enough so that your donors can see it. Too often, you know, the copy is written very tight, very small, and let’s not forget, your donors are older, like I’m not even at that age yet and I’m wearing glasses. So be mindful of that. And so that.
The copy should be really emotional. It should be focused on telling stories, telling stories of donors who already have left a gift in their will and if they don’t, they can also be people who are currently living who have already pledged their gifts. So it’s about the storytelling. And then do provide links to, like I said in here, you know, the sample language, the sample bequest language, sample codicil, that kind of stuff. But really, all of it should be about the impact that the gift will have on the beneficiaries of your organization itself.
And honestly, if you do a quick scan of different organizations, so look at organizations that are similar or even completely different to you and read their legacy page and see, you know, like honestly, like just picking bits and pieces of what others are doing and then you can piece together something beautiful that is very relevant to the organization, then you’ll have a killer legacy page. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t say that.
“Do you recommend a story of gratitude for a recent legacy gift or a testimonial in a newsletter to keep planned giving top of mind?” Absolutely. It should be a standard. You should always have real estate in any marketing material in order to always keep it top of mind. Pandemic or not, that should always be there. And I know that the biggest challenge is oftentimes being able to have that real estate because you have to have that sometimes battle with coms. But yes, absolutely. Anything that is relatable. So, you know, using the concept of social proofing, so making sure that social proofing being of demonstrating how others that look like you that are like you are also leaving a gift in their will. You know, so making sure that you always have that.
Marianne is asking, “Can you repeat how you call people depending on where they are in the pipeline, inquirers and tenders, pledgers?” Oh, considerers perhaps the stage that you’re missing. So I would just say, you know, depending on where they are and, of course, you have to go based on like the information that you have at your disposal if they’ve communicated anything with you. But, you know, if it’s an inquirer, so someone who requested information on, you know, your bequest program or whatever and, you know, you could open the conversation by saying, “Hi, you know, I’m so and so. I’m calling to first and foremost, I want to see how you doing. Are you coping well?” etc., etc. I would say, you know, “You requested on such date, our brochure, we mailed it out. I want to make sure that you received it. And do you have any questions?”
If they’re an intender, so the intender usually is really at the stage right before the pledger is, how are you doing? Of course, you know, the customary how you doing kind of, you know, conversation opener and then say, “Well, so, you know, do you need any information? I know right now it’s more difficult to make these arrangements with your legal advisor. Is there anything I can help you with? Is there anything that I can help bridge for you in order to help you along the process for, have you already made an appointment or arrangements with your regional advisor?” So that kind of stuff.
Is donor impact report same as annual report? Okay, Elise, very good question. I love that. The way I see it is no. It’s two completely different tools. However, having said that, I’m seeing more and more organizations that are using donor . . . like a more donor impact report-focused approach and then with very minimal, you know, the annual report stuff, that’s all the financial stuff that is, you know, not as exciting. We’re seeing people using more of a donor impact report approach to their annual report and then minimizing, you know, the financial side of things, but not minimizing to the point where they’re no longer compliant because they still need to be compliant in communicating that kind of stuff. So it’s up to you to determine what is the right mix. I like the idea of separating the two and having something that is very, very heavy on the donor love, on the donor stewardship and then the annual report having its own purpose in and of itself in order for you to remain compliant with, you know, federal, or provincial, or state regulations for your charitable status.
Any best practice website you love, you recommend that we could look at? Oh, it’s just so different from different sectors. So I could pull together something. So if you want to send me an email, I could pull together a few things because it’s so specific to the sector in which you work in that, you know, it really depends.
Do you have any recommendations for resources? What are your go-to website or software to help you do your fundraising? So, well, what’s really important is right now with my work at Greenpeace, I’m not in a frontline fundraising position. So I support all of our offices around the world who run legacy programs. So, yeah. So I’m more in the resource resource-generating business, sort of. So I would say me obviously. So maybe the best thing would be to say like the resources that I read and that I, you know, reshare and things like that is obviously Bloomerang always has amazing, amazing resources. Honestly, I actually even put it in my newsletter this morning. I’ve shared about all their free resources that Bloomerang has. So there you go.
DonorVoice, so The Agitator, amazing, amazing resources, really like research-based, that kind of stuff. Anything that Jen Shang and Adrian Sargeant generate is actually really fantastic. There’s so much more and I’m collating a lot of these things and I need to add that on my website. So if you want to reach out to me, I’ll be happy to, give you . . . because I have them all like links saved, but I need to actually organize them in a more organized way, so this could be a good prompt for me to actually finally do it.
Is this better to say planned giving or legacy giving? Ah, Geneva. Love it. I hate the word planned giving. I want this to be eradicated from our lexicon because it means absolutely nothing. Having said that, I’ve been using legacy because, you know, at Greenpeace this is what we use because in other countries . . . So let me give you a little bit background. Planned giving is very organization-centric and it’s really only really used here in North America, in Canada and the U.S. In Canada, we’re starting to move towards more legacy giving. Having recently been back in Australia, I am starting to use more gifts and wills and legacy.
So legacy, I continue using, but I’m starting to use more gifts in the wills because gifts and will is very specific. Donors know what that mean. It’s a gift in will. Straightforward. Planned giving means absolutely nothing. So if you want your donors to know exactly what you’re talking about, use gifts and wills, you can even use legacy to make it shorter or smoother. But I think we really, really need to kill the whole planned giving lexicon. And planned giving refers to all of the other financial vehicles that you can use. And so, you know, Russell James demonstrated that in a study that basically donors don’t understand what planned giving is. So why do we keep using that? The research tells us that donors are not getting it and if they’re not getting it, they’re not going to give you a gift in your will. So I hope that that answers that.
Do you have any advice on best approach to reaching out to professional advisors at this time? They are going bananas. They are really super busy because, like I said, donors are reaching out to them. You definitely should have a good relationship with professional advisors because they are also a great resource to be a prompt. So when they do have a donor that wants to write a will, it’d be amazing if attorneys would also prompt their donors or financial planners would also prompt their clients saying, “Well, have you thought of leaving a gift in the will?”
So I would say, you know, a great approach is to have, you know, share with them a leaflet or pamphlet or something about your organization, how you accept gifts and wills and, you know, if you do also offer other financial vehicles that, you know, you’re open to engage in the conversation so that they can also convey that information to their clients. But oftentimes, that’s also what Leave a Legacy does or the National Gift Planning Association. And so, you know, you have to work in collaboration with them in order to have greater impact. In Canada, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners has a big connection with financial planners and the legal sector, so that helps alleviate that workload.
All right. I think I’ve covered all the questions in the Q&A. I’m happy to stay on longer if people still have questions, but, Steve, you’re the captain of the ship, so you decide.
Steve: Well, you’ve been so gracious with your time, so thank you for doing this and just giving away all that knowledge and your noggin. This was awesome. For what it’s worth, planned giving, that never made any sense to me either. So I love it. I’m trying to spread the word or not spread the word, I guess. Call it something else. Geez.
This was awesome, Ligia. Thanks for doing this.
Ligia: Thank you.
Steven: Really appreciate you offering, first of all, not just doing it, but also approaching us to do it. So you’re obviously an awesome person and a wealth of knowledge. Visit her website, bookmark it, globetrottingfundraiser.com. Follow her on Twitter too. Good Twitter follower. Follow also. I’m a big fan.
We’ve got some good webinars coming up. We actually had a quadruple header this week. So we’re finishing it strong tomorrow with my buddy Jeff Jowdy. He’s going to come on and talk about board chairs, specifically. So what they should be doing right now. I love the topic. I love specific topics. I’m just kind of a geek like that. So maybe invite your board chair or your board members. I think it will be a positive conversation. So be here tomorrow, 2:00 p.m. Eastern, same time, same place. Got some other webinars next week, next month. You can find them at our Resources page.
But thanks to all of you for being here. This was a fun session. I knew it would be and I appreciate seeing a full room. So we will send you the slides and the recording here in just a little bit. You’ll have them before dinner time. And if you don’t have an orangutan in your life, a stuffed one, send me a message.
Ligia: You should, everyone.
Steven: I can’t guarantee a big one like that, but I do have to have a little inside track with a little stuffed one.
Ligia: And come back next month because I think I’m . . .
Steven: Oh yes, I forgot. I can’t believe it. Ligia is coming back next month. We will invite all of you to that. I’m so sorry. I’m such a dumb dumb for not mentioning that. How can I forget?
Ligia: All good.
Steven: Yeah. It’s going to be a good stuff. You’ll get the invite to that. We’ll send you all that good stuff. Don’t worry. But be on the lookout for that. We’ll call it a day there. Have a good rest of your Wednesday. If you’re watching a recording, I hope you’re just having a good day no matter where you are or what day it is. And hopefully we’ll see you tomorrow. If not, have a good rest of your week. Stay safe, please. Stay healthy. Take care of yourselves. And we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.