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Let’s talk about the power of a conversation, for driving legacy giving forward!

There has never been a time in my life when conversation was more important. I miss the casual conversations with friends over a drink or the conversation with a colleague over lunch. I miss late-night conversations with my adult children, and I miss conversations with my mother at her kitchen table. We know the power of conversation in our personal lives because the pandemic has changed our ability to have all of the conversations we want or need.

So, let’s think about the impact of conversation in our work, moving legacy ahead in our organizations.

There is an immense need for conversation, collaboration and engagement internally, especially if you want to truly grow your legacy giving. We have always known that building capacity internally means you need to build understanding and buy-in – and make legacy everyone’s responsibility, across the organization, to spot and start legacy conversations with donors. But how are we using the power of conversation to inspire our colleagues, and possibly even impact our cultures, so that our organizations are more open to legacy engagement?

It starts with internal conversations

Start by having one on one conversations and identifying champions in your organization. I always started with the CFO – they know how to build business cases and secure investments so discussion, aspirations and approach with them is a great way to get someone in your corner who can recognize great ROI when they see it. They may need help in understanding future value and the long game, but we have seen these individuals help to truly transform legacy in organizations.

I also talk to the digital lead – either in Mar/comm or in fund development – this conversation is key to understanding how digital evergreen, media and content for social is developed and how you might be able to support this through legacy.

Mar/comm is key to looking at the comms calendars and storytelling; Major gift is key to discussions on blended gifts and seeing how you can use their amazing proposals to tailor to legacy. Annual giving and DRM are often the gateway to the donor and prospect base so connecting with them and understanding timing and mutual objectives is important. The list goes on!

Pulling everyone together and sharing key legacy elements like outcomes from your proposition work, relationship analytics & affinity surveys, is so valuable. Moments like the development of donor journeys and content development are supported through sprint workshops internally – we see amazing buy-in and ideas for legacy through these connections and conversations that make programs strong and deliver amazing experiences for donors. Now more than ever, don’t sit in your office trying to dream this up yourself – get your colleagues’ perspectives, help them see the opportunities and the bigger picture, and how they can contribute to success!

Conversations with your known audiences

And this brings us to external conversations – conversations with people that are already on our file.

For known audiences, we have three main groups when it comes to legacy giving. We have the group of special people who have already confirmed a bequest or future gift. What an amazing opportunity to treat these people with the best engagement, and to think about how to ensure the right conversations are happening, in order to remain relevant and connected for years to come.

Then, there are the hand-raisers; an important group of people who have asked for more information, who have told you they intend on making a future gift or have asked for will language. These are people for whom we know a large percentage will take action and never tell us – which is ok! Let’s build our donor journeys to support this and assume the best. Let’s continue to inspire them and stay connected – and even ask for input. Let’s make conversation easy if that is what they want.

Then we have our prospects for legacy on our donor files; from high net worth individuals who need blended gifts or securities positioned as an option, to our core and loyal donor groups who may be inspired to make the ultimate gift. Are we making a conversation easy? Do they know who you are? Do they have access to your calendar, and do we engage them by furthering the legacy conversation at different times in the year?

In our research over the last year on Donor Attitudes Towards Giving (get the Wave 4 research here: Blakely Whitepaper New Year New Normal), we have seen consistent interest and uptake in giving a legacy gift to charities that people are passionate about – especially younger people (45 to 55). This means a different conversation is needed to understand how to keep these donors engaged longer, through life’s ups and downs. Staying relevant means changing the conversation with these donors for the long-term.

Driving conversation with people who you don’t yet know

The most challenging for engagement, connection and conversation is the unknown group – which could be delivering 50% plus of the actual revenue in fulfilled legacy programs! Digital is making targeting and reaching these people easier and easier but that means we need to ensure we are making it easy to connect – that our organizations are open for legacy conversations from the donor relations team, to the major gift team, to the programs people.

We need to make ourselves accessible by ensuring our digital real estate is inspiring and drives conversations, and we need to allow people to connect on their own terms, in their own way. This might mean looking outside of traditional legacy marketing channels and ensuring that we are investing in real storytelling and inspiration in our creative and our proposition. We need to do the heavy lifting to find people that will be inspired by our cause and are looking for meaning and engagement – and then create onboarding experiences that do just that.

And we will need to measure conversations in their simplest forms. They may not be face to face – they may be by phone, by email, by social media platform, by conversation-based landing pages, by the rest of our team making a connection. We need to open up the conversations, arm our organizations with the right tools and engage our community to make connections.

That is the true power of conversation to fuel legacy and move it forward. We hope you are inspired to start the conversation.