Whether your organization has a robust, well established Planned Giving program, or if your Legacy Society is just getting off the ground, there is one thing that you will most likely observe if you take a careful look at the individuals who have made a deferred giving commitment: loyalty. Planned Giving donors can be of modest or great wealth. They may be younger individuals who have established a remainder trust, or they may be older annuitants. But, the common denominator in most planned giving donors is that they have given many gifts—often small—to organizations they care about year after year.
Take a closer look. You might be amazed at what you find. It isn’t uncommon that planned giving donors have given dozens, even hundreds of gifts to an organization before they finally ink that deferred arrangement. The even more amazing thing is that many of them have never been formally recognized—or even noticed—by the organizations they are helping. Why is this? Most likely it’s because recognition programs are usually designed to emphasize gift size, not giving consistency.
Give some thought to establishing a recognition program that celebrates loyalty—or giving at any level that has endured 10, 20 or more years. While a little flexibility may be needed to include worthy honorees that may have missed a year or two, you may find that your organization has hundreds of individuals who already qualify for recognition.
Why recognize loyalty? Simply put, it gives you an opportunity to personally say “thank you” to individuals who often go unnoticed. And, it provides a chance to encourage a gift of perpetuity from those who have spent a lifetime demonstrating their affection for your organization. By bringing these invaluable benefactors together to celebrate their commitment, you can share some constructive ideas about how – and why—they may want to consider a bequest, annuity or charitable remainder trust.
Hesitant to add one more event to your already busy schedule? Think about piggybacking your Loyalty Society with your Legacy Society. One event with a dual purpose is not only efficient, but allows you to utilize your best salespeople—those who have already made a deferred gift—to provide meaningful testimonials as to why they made their gift. And, what a captive audience! Who better to share this with than others who have demonstrated their loyalty through years of generous giving. So, next time you prepare your invitation list for your Legacy Society dinner, take a minute to celebrate loyalty as well. You may be surprised at the lasting benefits.
*Laura Worcester is a consultant for Target Analytics. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.