Why Are Charity Marketing Teams Excited About Online Wills?

by Matt Renzoni in November 1st, 2021

Why do charities have so much trouble growing through legacy giving?

The traditional pen-and-paper world of planned giving has often made it impossible to develop robust tracking for gifts in Wills, which can make it very hard for fundraisers to identify the return-on-investment (ROI) for legacy giving campaigns. Based on this statement alone, it’s no wonder that legacy giving is always first to lose priority when a fundraiser only has a limited amount of time to manage multiple giving portfolios. 

We see this all the time in how fundraisers describe their legacy giving strategy as “reactive” or “done from the side of the desk”, and this is largely due to both time and budget constraints. With this mindset and nothing to augment their time while working to secure gifts while focusing on other priorities, few charities are willing to take the risk of investing further in legacy giving. 

The closest practice that most charities can do for tracking legacy donors is to keep a list of donors who have asked for more information on legacy giving or have expressed intent in leaving a legacy gift. Once this step is reached though, charities typically lose track of the donor. For the charity to know with confidence that a donor has left a gift to them, the donor often needs to fill out a gift confirmation form, which adds a step to the process that can easily be forgotten. Given the traditional method, it’s clear that a lot of things have to happen in perfect succession in order for a charity to both secure a legacy gift and have visibility into it.

What are the challenges for marketing and fundraising teams?

Legacy giving is also hard for marketers to draw straight lines from campaigns to gifts in Wills to determine the effectiveness of images and copy that best drive consideration and action. For this reason, there’s often a disconnect between marketing, fundraising, and charity executives when it comes to legacy giving, which leads to the majority of charities severely underinvesting in this revenue stream. Even though for most regular people a legacy gift is the largest charitable donation they will make in their entire life, fundraisers seeking to increase legacy gifts often have the hefty task of asking executives for extra budget without hard data on whether current campaigns have been successful or not. Unless the executives are well versed in legacy giving, it’s very easy for them to want to allocate more of their budget to fundraising streams that have a simple and proven ROI.

Due to the traditional method mentioned above, marketing teams and fundraisers find the biggest roadblock occurs when trying to turn a donor’s intention into a gift in their Will. At this stage, the most common call-to-action (CTA) is to provide links for donors to request a legacy brochure, download a Will kit, or see sample bequest language. However, this CTA pales in comparison to how other fundraising streams use digital strategies drive conversion of intent to donations. A more compelling CTA in this case would be to provide a way for them to get started on creating their Will today. 

This is why a huge opportunity exists for charities to grow through legacy giving. Being able to draw a straight line from marketing campaigns to gifts in Wills finally allows both marketing and fundraising to measure success and work better together to grow legacy gifts. When these teams can collaborate with a clear ROI intent to prove for both parties, it can finally invite the opportunity for the fundraising team to increase the budget of their portfolio for sustained growth. 

How does Willfora address these challenges?

Up until now, it has been largely impossible for charities to prove an ROI that directly says, “X dollar amount was the result of X campaign”, which is possible for nearly every other stream of giving. Since creating a Will with a lawyer involves a pen-and-paper process, online solutions like Willfora now make this tracking possible.

Willfora’s tools allow charities to measure ROI down to the gift level, while providing real-time insights into future income and legacy donor information. For donors who choose to create Wills via Willfora, the technology can track the effectiveness of a campaign by identifying which marketing activity a donor who started the process or left a gift originated from. This provides mutual benefit to fundraisers in the form of visibility into gifts, and marketing teams in the form of testing copy and imagery to measure success with a direct ROI based on gifts in Wills. 

This is also in line with the mission of Willfora, since we want to empower fundraisers to prove that adopting new technologies is benefiting them in both the long and short term. If we can help charities bring more predictability to legacy giving, we can also ensure that more Canadians are being educated on the importance of having a Will as well as how much a legacy gift can help the charity they choose.

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