Planned giving requests are always a touchy subject. It can be difficult to find the right time to start asking frequent donors about it.
According to Joan Flanagan in “Successful Fundraising,” there are 10 instances when people will write or update their will:
- They inherit money or property;
- They marry or divorce;
- They have a baby;
- They leave for a war zone;
- They buy a home;
- They start a business;
- They are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness;
- They acquire a great deal of money – win the lottery or make a killing in the stock market;
- They plan to take a trip out of the country; and,
- They have a relative who becomes a lawyer.
All of these instances should theoretically help you to decide when to ask for bequests. There’s only one problem: Your organization generally has no way to anticipate these events. So how do you know when to ask for bequests? There really isn’t a foolproof answer to this question, according to Flanagan. She suggested the following tips to make your timing less awkward:
- Include a checkbox in your newsletters or other communications to allow donors to receive information about your bequest program;
- Send communications at least once a year about wills;
- Include a “success story” about a donor who has remembered your agency in their will and what you can now do with that money; and,
- Add bequests and other deferred gifts to the “menu” you offer your prospects when you discuss ways they can support your organization.