Somewhere, hiding under beds and in closets, lurk the creatures that haunt planned giving officers: losing current sustainable gifts, complex lingo, and the discomfort of speaking about death.
Mark Hefter, associate vice president at American Technion Society (ATS), and Marc Krause, associate vice president of National Jewish Health, gathered fundraisers around the campfire during Fundraising Day in New York at the New York Marriott Marquis to discuss what fears they have in soliciting planned gifts during their session “Legacy Giving: So What Are You Afraid Of?”
Hefter and Krause insisted, when asked by an audience member, that “legacy” and “planned” aren’t dirty words. ATS considered changing its planned-giving program to another name, but it wasn’t worth it, Hefter said.
The vast majority of planned giving donors Google “planned gifts” when deciding where to give to — making a softer term not worth the loss in traffic. Additionally, everyone wants a legacy and the two means of obtaining a legacy tend to be major Einstein-like accomplishments or large donations.
“You see this in your own lives,” Hefter said. As a former estate planner, he’d speak with clients about their family trees – the names of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. “Your own family forgets you within four generations. We are not remembered for our name, but for our deeds. That message resonates.”
Krause added that he has never in his career referenced death in his interactions with prospective donors – a subject that some fundraisers fear to broach. Planned and legacy gifts are about life, according to the presenters, and the ability to find a level or immortality by giving to a cause that will endure for many years.
Krause said that the key is providing donors with as much information as possible and allowing them to self-select. Working in healthcare, Krause said that he informs prospective donors about a number of disease-related initiatives, searching for a cause that resonates with them;
As we celebrate our 36th year, NPT remains dedicated to supplying breaking news, in-depth reporting, and special issue coverage to help nonprofit executives run their organizations more effectively.