Your "Legacy Society": is it time for a refresh?

publication date: Oct 11, 2012
Say a nonprofit is planning to invite 100 prospects to join its "Legacy Society", targeting people who have made a planned gift or say they would like to. On average, how many would welcome such an invitation? 

According to The Stelter Company's latest national study on planned giving, conducted in the US: a whopping three! Ninety-seven percent of those polled expressed no interest in joining a recognition group.

This finding underscores an underlying shift in the preferences and demographics of future planned givers, the company says. 

"Our research reveals a bright future for planned giving," says Bev Hutney, Stelter's director of innovation and research. "Upcoming generations of donors appear to be ready and willing, but in order to resonate with this group, nonprofits may need to reinvent the ways in which they steward members. Now's the time to start thinking about experiences that would encourage greater participation and, in turn, offer greater benefit to the organization as a whole." 

Loyalty not a prime characteristic 

Another surprising finding included in the 2012 Stelter Donor Insight Report: A lucrative segment of planned giving prospects are likely not on your radar. 

Among current planned givers, more than one-fifth say they had never donated to the charity at the time of their gift. And 20% say they had been donating to the nonprofit for less than five years. Bottom line: The annual giving patterns of 41% of current planned givers defy the traditional loyalty model. 

"This was one of the findings that we think is key to unlocking success for nonprofits - for example, just introducing the topic of planned giving much earlier in the conversation and targeting a wider group of people than they do currently could really make a significant difference for a charitable organization," Hutney says. 


Some key discoveries from the 2012 Stelter Study include:   
  • Keep the conversation moving.  People make the decision to make a planned gift quickly. From the first serious thought of making a planned gift to finalizing the documents, 53% of respondents took less than one year.    
  • Focus on a wide variety of donors. Best prospects (those who say they will definitely or probably make a planned gift in the future) are decidedly young. Sixty percent of these best prospects are between the ages of 40 and 54, while only 10% of people aged 70 or older meet the criteria.     
  • Connect outside traditional outlet.  Higher than average proportions of major donors, current planned givers and best prospects in their 40s (24% of each) express interest in connecting to a charity via Facebook.     
  • Mindset matters more than means. Income does not dictate whether a person is or will be a planned giver.     
For the purposes of the study, the phrase "current planned givers" was defined as people who already have a planned gift in place, and "best prospects" was defined as people who say they will definitely or probably make a planned gift in the future. It is based on a telephone study of 401 adults aged 40 and over.

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