Who’s the most likely legacy giving prospect? You might be surprised.

Early on in my time leading mass supporter engagement in a national ministry, I assumed that the supporters who left estate gifts were nearly entirely “major donors.”  In large part, I simply assumed it, because the planned giving director reported into the Strategic Gifts Team.  I believed this for several years until our reporting improved and I gained better visibility on the data.

What I found astonished me.  The vast majority of estate gift income came from the mass donors!  In fact, their estate gifts annually equaled 10% of all mass donor giving combined and 6% of all giving by any donors.  Huh!

Needless to say, I suddenly became much more interested in ensuring that our mass donors encountered opportunities to include us in their wills.

As it turns out, what our ministry experienced is the norm.  The vast majority of legacy givers will come from your mass or “general” donor base, if we communicate with them rightly.

I just came back from Barnabas Foundation’s annual conference in Chicago.  In his presentation, Mike Buwalda, our strategic partner for planned giving, rightly likened many of these wonderful donors to the widow of Luke 21: “the widow was ‘all-in’, and these legacy donors are all-in as well.”  They don’t have “major donor” funds, but what they have they give.  Often, they are able to give much more in death than they were in life.

What an honor to give these special donors the opportunity to participate in giving with their estates, and then to show our gratitude to them.  In partnering with Mike and Barnabas Foundation, we are able to offer best-in-class recruitment and cultivation strategies for these wonderful legacy givers.


In this space, we’ll be talking more about what planned giving strategies can do for your organization.  For example, do you know how much current giving increases for donors who put you in their wills?  We’ll talk about that.  How amazingly high is the long-term ROI on planned giving recruitment?  How do we use smart analytics to identify potential estate givers?  What might the future of legacy giving societies look like?  We’ll talk about all of that and more.  Join us or contact me at athornburgh@masterworks.agency!