Inspiring Geneorsity


Legacy Giving: Love that Low-Hanging Fruit – Part 1

                  Low-hanging fruit. Yuuuuum.  Heidelbergerin @Pixabay

Do you like low-hanging fruit? Me too! Right out my front door, I can see my blueberries beginning to bloom. I love going out in late June and early July to grab handfuls for my morning oatmeal. Those &^%$! birds also seem to like my blueberries. Grrrr. Sharing is hard.

Well folks, in addition to blueberries, there’re all kinds of low-hanging fruit out there, just ripe for the picking. And one of those fruits is legacy giving. The term “legacy giving” leads to these questions:

“Have you written a will?”
"Have you remembered your amazing congregation in that will?”
A surprising fact: According to the Veritus Group, “the older the individual is, the more likely they are to have an estate plan. By the time one reaches their 70’s and 80’s, well in excess of 75% of those surveyed had an estate plan.” Sadly, Aretha Franklin was not one of them.

The shocker: “[Only] 8% of those wills or estates have some type of charitable gift contained in them.”

The good news: “The longer the length of the relationship to any organization, the more likely that gift will come to the organization from that donor. An individual who has been giving consistently for 30 years or more, especially if there is some type of volunteer relationship, has a very high likelihood of a planned gift to the organization.”
In a recent post Rebecca Davis advises the following about requesting legacy gifts: Keep it simple. Too often, churches avoid asking for legacy gifts because they are worried they don’t have enough knowledge. Davis assures,
“In fact, you don’t need to know much of anything at all about planned giving to ask your constituents to remember them in their wills…it might even work to your advantage to not know much of anything…” Who does have that information?  Financial advisors and estate planning lawyers – the very people with financial and legal expertise who will help draw up a will.

In order to inspire people to remember your congregation in their will, you just need to do the following:
A. Remind people why your church should be included in their legacy plans and
 B. Ask. “Let people know that you would love for them to remember your organization in their will (which is how 85% of all planned gifts are made).”
In addition, Davis suggests, you should –
1. Put simple information about legacy giving on your website.

2. Add legacy giving reminders in your print and electronic newsletters (every issue!).

Here’s simple language you can suggest to people:
“I give and bequeath to ________ Church located at___________,  the sum of $______________ (or ____% of my residuary estate), for such purposes as the Church shall determine are in the best interests of the Church.”
Low-hanging fruit is soooo delicious, unless some &%$! bird gets to it first. There are lots of sophisticated organizations who are already asking members of your congregation to remember them in their legacy plans. You should be doing the same. Your ministries are well-worth funding far into the future. Your congregation changes lives and communities. Let people, who already love you and believe in what you’re doing, know how they can make a difference for generations to come.
Next week: How to honor and steward people who have remembered your congregation in their legacy plans.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She loves her Gravenstein apple tree too. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.

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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.