August is one of the months many people look forward to every year. The weather is great, making it the perfect time to go on a summer vacation and decompress. For nonprofit organizations, August is special because it has the honor of being the Make-a-Will month. This presents a unique opportunity to increase legacy gifts and start a conversation around planned giving.
What Is Make-a-Will Month?
While there is no official proclamation, there seems to be a consensus among the nonprofit sector that deems August the National Make-a-Will Month. During this month, there is a widespread awareness drive to encourage people to create their will.
Today, only 3 out of 10 Americans have a will and many still do not realize the importance of having one. For some, it is needless because they do not have much money or property. Others avoid it, thinking that it is too tedious and costly.
However, everyone needs to have a will regardless of their assets. Besides indicating specific instructions for assets, a will can also be used to nominate guardians for minor children and to write funeral wishes. It saves the loved ones who are left behind from the stress of having to make decisions and dealing with potential court proceedings.
For nonprofit organizations, Make-a-Will month is an ideal time to reach out to donors and secure planned gifts as many people tend to include charitable donations in their first will. In fact, 53% of donors established a planned gift the first time they wrote a will.
4 Ways to Secure Gifts During Make-a-Will Month
1. Host a free webinar about creating a will
Invite existing donors and potential ones to a free webinar on the importance of creating a will and how to go about making one. While one of your goals is to secure gifts in the will, make sure that your webinar is truly informative and offers value to your audience. Provide specific ways on how they can create a will, while providing key steps and advice on how to successfully execute. Invite a legal expert who can address some of their questions to make the webinar more engaging and interactive. Remind donors that they can leave a gift in their will to a nonprofit organization of their choosing. Then briefly mention how such gifts help your organization fulfill its mission. If your organization has a legacy group or association, invite some members to speak about its benefits, while explaining why they support your organization.
2. Run an email campaign offering free resources for preparing a will
Send an engaging email to supporters to encourage them to make or update their will. Aside from explaining how a will protects their loved ones, give them the resources that they need to learn more about creating their will. Include links to free resources such as an estate plan questionnaire or an online will-writing tool. End your email with a compelling message on how leaving a gift in their will impacts the life of many people and creates a legacy.
3. Create and publish infographics that clearly enumerate the benefits of planned gifts
Infographics are a great way to present vast information in easily digestible forms. They are also easy to share on various social media platforms and marketing channels. For Make-a-Will month, focus on the benefits that planned gifts provide to both the donor and your organization. Include potential tax breaks they can receive by leaving a charitable gift in their will. Show examples of how some bequests reduce inheritance tax liabilities and federal estate taxes.
4. Make it easy for donors to create a will and add a legacy gift
Increase the probability of securing gifts by making it easy for your donors to create their will. Even those who know how important it is to have a will may put it off if they find it too cumbersome to do. So, help them by connecting them with legal professionals or offering assistance on how to use free will makers. You can also create a dedicated page on your website addressing some common FAQs, while also including a submission forum or direct phone line for donors to request help in leaving a legacy gift.
Foster Relationships Year-Round
August may be a good month to secure planned gifts, but it isn’t the only month that you can do so. Strive to connect with all your donors throughout the year and establish a relationship with them. Those who feel a connection with your organization are most likely to leave a legacy gift.
You can boost your planned gifts throughout the year, by running a planned giving campaign. Over the past 25 years, Donor Compass™ has helped more than 200 nonprofit organizations create lasting relationships with their donors, while securing gifts in the will — and they were the first direct response fundraising vendor in North America to introduce integrated mail and phone programs. Click here to learn more about optimizing your planned giving strategy.