Nonprofit Endowment Toolkit

How to Set Up A Planned Giving Program

Create a Legacy Society

If you do not have one, start one.  A Legacy Society is a group of individuals who have conveyed to you their intention of leaving a legacy to your institution.  Creating a Legacy Society is simple, costs nothing, and no legal documents are needed.  You can name it so that it pertains to your organization or just keep it simple.  Creating a Legacy Society deepens your relationship with your donors and allows you to honor them during their lifetime.  If you already have a Legacy Society, keep these donors top of mind.

To find your Legacy Society members:

Mail a letter once a year, either in September or in April, to your best prospects for the Legacy Society.  These would be the people who have been involved with your organization for ten years or more, no matter at what philanthropic or volunteer level.  A one page letter should include a reply device where they are able to indicate that they have made plans for your organization or that they would like to be contacted with more information.  For every legacy gift that you know about, there are four or five that you don’t.

On your reply device please remember to put the Florida Department of Agriculture’s required legal language which should be on every solicitation you convey – in all capital letters - A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE, WITHIN THE STATE, 1-800-HELPFLA, OR VIA THE INTERNET AT WWW.800HELPFLA.COM.  REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. REGISTRATION NO. CH????

Honor your Legacy Society members

Determine what benefits you can offer to them.  It is often done through name recognition - create a web page, write about the Legacy Society in your newsletter and annual report, include information about it in your eblasts.  Can you host an annual luncheon, tea, or reception for your Legacy Society members?  Would one of them host the event for you?  Are there other ways you can think of that are unique to your organization to make them feel as special as they are?  Perhaps as part of your donor messaging strategy you will include distinctive thank yous for your planned giving donors.

Involve your Board members 

In all likelihood you have at least one Board member who is already planning a legacy gift to your organization.  Establish them as the Chair or champion of the Legacy Society to build awareness about planned giving and ensuring Board support for the program.