4 Reasons Online Wills are Transforming Legacy Giving Strategies

by Matt Renzoni in July 21st, 2021

Digital transformation is now touching all avenues of fundraising, and legacy giving is the newest area where nonprofits can benefit from adapting to the ever changing digital world. With  the recent pandemic prompting many individuals and couples of all ages to look for alternatives to seeing a lawyer, it’s predicted that the vast majority of Wills in Canada will be started and created through online platforms like Willfora by 2030. With this in mind, there are several considerations charities should understand in terms of the potential benefits that they can have by being trailblazers in this category. 

Here are the four reasons why online Wills can transform legacy giving at charities:

#1. Reducing the inertia around creating Wills

One of the most important benefits that online Wills can have for both donors and charities is that they make starting the process of creating a Will simple. If the process becomes easier and more people are starting the process regardless of whether they leave a gift to the charity or not, the charity is slowly reducing the inertia around creating Wills more broadly. 

This can also factor into the value the charity communicates to donors on why they should create or update their Wills. This small piece of education can also give charities additional reasons to communicate with donors. For example, providing social proof by identifying to donors that 55% of Canadians don’t have an up-to-date Will in a way that’s encouraging and comes with a resource to start the process can be a more thought-provoking subject line than “create your Will for free”. That’s not to say that a free Will offer will not generate traffic, but in order to continually drive engagement, the content needs to evolve. 

The intention is everything here. If donors feel that charities are providing helpful resources that they can benefit from, regardless of whether they leave a gift to the charity or not, their overall satisfaction with the charity will improve. By automating the process for donors, reducing the inertia around creating Wills more generally can help provide a better donor experience. 

#2. Starting with a simple process

Although 2030 may still seem far off, nonprofits like to plan for the future and be ahead when it comes to fundraising trends. Developing new legacy strategies often take multiple years to implement, since time in market is so important for legacy giving. With this as a caveat, charities can actually avoid additional complexities by adding online Wills to the list of ways that donors can start the process of creating or updating a Will. 

The key is the simplicity and the ability to automate the process of donors creating Wills, while implementing an arm’s-length solution that can give charities better visibility into future income and donor profiles than ever before. While the bridge between intention and commitment for legacy gifts is often tough to see through from end-to-end, online Will options can solve this issue due to how easy it is for donors to start the process. 

Even if a donor creates an online Will and still wants to see a lawyer, they can take the newly generated documents with them and continue the process, having spent zero dollars to get to that point. 

#3. Rolling Will completion and gift notices into one step

With the traditional route for creating Wills, many charities have implemented forms into their legacy pages to capture gift information from donors after completing their Wills with a lawyer, yet donors can still be reluctant to notify the charity of their legacy pledge. This can be because they don’t understand the importance of making their gift known, or perhaps they may not know that it’s something they can do. Either way, it leaves charities with little knowledge of how many legacy expectancies they have in their funnel. 

While this is a necessary resource for charities to have regardless of recommending online options or not, options like Willfora can go a step further by combining the two options into one step. For example, Willfora adds a step in the process to ask if the donor would like to notify the charity of their intention, along with some additional educational information on why sharing legacy gifts with charities is important for helping that charity plan for the future. This can also come in the form of additional communications on the importance of making intentions known, but with the message coming directly from Willfora versus the charity, the donor’s positive experience with the charity isn’t frayed.

By rolling this step into the Will-creation process, less work is required for the donor to ensure that the charity knows of their intentions.

#4. Expanded targeting for untapped donor segments

While focusing on the group of donors over the age of sixty is a logical first step, since this group is likely at the stage of creating their last Will, charities can also miss out on younger demographics who are still in need of a Will and are more likely to look for alternatives to seeing a lawyer for multiple visits. While they may not be in the “last Will” category, the 35-60 age group poses a massive advantage for the charities who can communicate the importance of having an up-to-date Will effectively, since many people in this age bracket have likely experienced at least one trigger event that makes having a Will essential. 

Additionally, with many charities running free Wills campaigns with lawyer networks that only put the sixty-and-over age group in scope, there can potentially be several donors under the age requirement who need a Will. With Will-writing campaigns often having a capacity that aligns with the charity budget, charities should be prepared with alternatives for the donors who may not fall within the requirements but are still interested, or simply have been left out due to higher demand than supply of free Wills. 


If your charity wants to superpower legacy giving through a Charity Page, contact us to book a demo.

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