publication date: Oct 3, 2011
author/source: Fraser Green
What I'm about to tell you - which should take about a
minute to read - could make you a million extra dollars. And better yet, this
stuff is so simple
Let's start with a few factoids:
Why your legacy pages
- The average charitable
bequest in Canada is about $20,000. (You can double that amount if you're
a hospital foundation, a university or a major arts institution.)
- When you receive fifty
bequests worth $20,000 each, you've just made your extra million.
- It's a very safe bet that
at least half of the prospects who are considering making a bequest to
your organization will visit your website before making their final
So, when they come to visit you online, what do they find?
Frankly, they find a lot of jargon, technicalities and
Last weekend, I visited about a dozen charity websites at
random, as if I were a legacy gift prospect. It was a depressing experience.
I can tell you this: if my dad had visited those sites, he
would have given up the ghost long before deciding he wanted to leave a bequest
to any of them.
Folks, this is a seriously missed opportunity. It's costing
you money - and lots of it. And it's not all that hard (or expensive) to fix.
I understand that we're all busy. I also suspect that no-one
in the executive office is pressuring you to fix your planned giving page(s) by
the end of the month. You've got other priorities and deadlines.
I get all that. But, the fact remains that our planned
giving pages are sloppy and ineffective. For example, one of Canada's legendary
pioneers of planned giving hides its legacy gift information under the tab
labelled "Tax Smart Giving." Oops!
So friends, it's makeover time. I've got more than a dozen
faults and fixes in my head right now - but let's start with a simple three.
Find these faults on your site - and fix them. I promise you that the time and
effort you put into these fixes will pay for themselves many, many times over.
The sites I visited talked way too much about the gift
itself. This isn't about the gift. It's about the donor making the gift!
Talk about the donor! Talk about legacy giving being the appropriate
ultimate gift for the loyal few - those who have supported your charity for
many years. Talk about your shared commitment to the mission of the
organization - and the beliefs and values behind that mission. Talk about the
meaning of life - and the donor's ability to leave a meaningful footprint on
the world after she's gone from it.
The first thing I encountered when I visited most sites was
a menu of giving options. And surprisingly, wills and bequests often weren't
even the first item on the menu. What in the world are we thinking? We know
where the money comes from - yet we insist on taking up valuable web real
estate on non-productive messaging.
This is simple stuff. Ninety to ninety-five percent of all
planned giving revenue comes from bequests. So use your page content to talk
about wills and bequests! This isn't rocket science - and it's an easy fix to
The sites I visited talked a lot about financial management
and taxes. Yet donors I've listened to in focus groups rarely speak of taxes.
And they only go there when we ask them to. It isn't about the tax breaks
folks. The donor decided to leave the bequest because she wants you to keep
doing your good work to fulfill your mission long into the future.
Take out the tax stuff. Take out 90% of anything that's
there now that has anything to do with money. Replace it with inspiring content
about your cause and mission. Talk about your history of getting great results.
Show the future - and your role in it. Speak from your heart - and leave your
calculator in your pocket!
I promised you three tips, but here's a freebie:
Simply take out the words "planned giving." Your donors
(most of them anyway) have no idea what those words mean. Say "gifts in wills"
or "bequests" or "legacy gifts" instead. Use language that your donors
understand instead of jargon that confuses them and sends them on to somebody
Fraser Green is principal and
chief strategist at Good Works, a consulting firm
that works with Canadian charities to engage donors at a truly human level and
build donor loyalty and commitment. Fraser welcomes your ideas, comments and
criticisms about this tip. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your reactions