Never before has there been more money available to your organization than right now.
Members of the “Greatest Generation,” those who lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War, now in their 80s and 90s, are collectively leaving billions of dollars to charitable causes in the United States and Canada.
Their preferred vehicle for giving isn’t a check. Or a credit card. It’s a simple charitable bequest in their Will. If you are not marketing your bequest program to this generation with all the resources you have available, you are missing what many are calling the greatest opportunity in the history of fundraising.
1. Donors are leaving bequests to other charities, so why not yours?
Donors in the United States gave $17.44 billion to charities through bequests in 2005. This amount represents seven percent of all charitable giving for that year. This figure is going to grow during the next few decades because we are in the midst of the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen.
2. The time is now
Between now and 2052, Baby Boomers and their parents will transfer roughly $14 trillion of their assets to the next generation. Around seven percent of that amount will be in the form of bequests to charities. There has never been a better time to be promoting bequests to your donors as a way to leave a lasting legacy.
3. Inexpensive to get started
A bequest program can be started with a minimum of investment. You can start by inserting a simple phrase in your letterhead, direct mail appeals and donor newsletters: “Please remember Chary ABC in your Will.” Doing so won’t cost you a penny, and will generate bequests over time.
4. Average bequest is large
How many times a year does someone walk into your office with a check for $30,000? That’s the size of an average bequest these days. It’s the equivalent of a major gift, and you can receive it even if you do not have a major gifts program or a major gifts officer. And chances are that it will be an unrestricted bequest, which means your charity can use it any way you please.
5. Cost to raise a dollar is nominal
If you host a lavish fundraising event, you can expect to spend around 75 cents to raise a dollar. If you mail a fundraising letter, you can expect to spend around 15 cents to raise a dollar. But if you ask for a bequest by letter or phone, you can expect to spend less than a cent to raise a dollar. That’s because the costs of marketing a bequest program are so small and average bequests are so large. Bequest marketing delivers the highest return on investment of any fundraising method.
6. Many of your wealthiest donors will make their largest gift at death
Your wealthiest donors are in their 70s and 80s. They grew up during the Great Depression, a time that taught them the importance of saving and investing. They have spent their lives accumulating wealth. They are savers, not spenders. Being savers, many of these donors will not make six- and seven-figure gifts in their lifetime. Instead, they will make their largest gifts to charity when they pass away, through bequests in their wills.
If you want to double, triple, or even quadruple your planned giving income, start a bequest marketing program today. If you’re not inviting your donors to leave bequests to your charity in their Wills, just remember that other charities are.