How An Amazing Donor Experience Helps Drive Legacy Giving

Over the last year, driven by major changes in donor motivations and behaviour, we have emphasized the importance of the delivery of relevant, inspiring donor journeys in order to keep people giving and deepen connections.  But when it comes to creating a positive impact on legacy giving, delivering an amazing donor experience has always played a vital role to an organization’s success.

The short version of this blog would simply reiterate that without a great donor experience, why would someone consider a legacy gift? If all we ever do is ask for donations, why would a donor suddenly pay attention to a legacy campaign – especially one that isn’t based in inspiration and engagement and has a proposition that could have come from any number of charities.

We have to start thinking differently about the role that donor experience plays in legacy giving; it’s not rocket science and, well, where there’s a will there’s a way!

If you agree, then read on…

Legacy’s role in the donor experience

We believe that it’s crucial to join up your thinking and consider legacy in every journey you develop – whether creating a new donor onboarding experience or creating journeys for current inquiry donors.  By thinking legacy and keeping the focus on building high-value relationships front and centre, you will improve legacy outcomes. But most importantly, you will enhance your donor’s experience.

Because a great donor experience delivers need, and we know that donors like choice in how they give. So, making the case to consider a legacy gift should be an experience in and of itself regardless of the outcome. It should inspire, show a problem that needs solving and most importantly, really showcase why your charity is the best organization to solve the problem.

A legacy ask, done in the right way, should be a key part of our experience and engagement strategy, and if we stop thinking about legacy as a dry ask to our older and more loyal donors, and start thinking of it as inspiring and engaging — something that we’re proud of — it makes complete sense for it to be an important part of our donors’ experience.

Cast your net wider

The awareness for including charities in our will has increased substantially, and commitments are being made much earlier in the relationship with the charity.  People used to think that we don’t talk legacy until 5 or 8 years on the file!  Now it’s much sooner – in fact for some it’s the very first engagement people make based on values and a deep personal passion.  We have a number of organizations where legacy inquiries and commitments are being made within the first 4 years of tenure on the file.

Our perception of age means that we can often miss the boat. Younger demographics, the 45+, are one of the most engaged groups in legacy giving – and it makes sense. They feel like the realization of the gift is a long way off.  Cementing our relationship early means that we will likely remain in the will – but guess what key factor determines the likelihood of this? Donor experience. How we treat people really matters in the long run if we want to remain relevant and inspiring.

And after all that time and effort you’ve spent creating your deeply inspiring legacy proposition and creative approach that places you firmly outside of ‘legacy cookie-cutter land,’ you’re going to want as many people as possible to see it. Be confident! No one will be offended by inspiring communications. Make legacy giving accessible to your entire known audience of donors as a starting point for your engagement strategy!

Creating the legacy experience for everyone

All of this means that we need to think differently about our long-term donor journey strategies because we are keeping people on our files longer before realizing a gift.  Making the experience (a combination of your content, communications and solicitation strategies) even more important.

The perception that legacy donors should be left alone and not asked in their lifetime is long gone, and it’s especially important when we think of those younger legacy pledgers and hand-raisers.  Having a younger file will mean a longer period until that legacy gift matures, but with the right experience, these donors will increase their lifetime giving and value over time.

In the programs we build, we help organizations create inspiring journeys for hand-raisers and confirmed expectancies – but also for prospects both known and unknown across every revenue area and in all key communications.  There are many exciting segment groups emerging that are changing the outcomes of our integrated marketing for legacy giving – but just the fact we are creating strategy and experiences for more than just confirmed pledge donors is having a big impact on programs – and it’s allowing us to change the way we look at donor journey development from a cross engagement perspective.

Have I convinced you to look at things differently?

The wonderful thing about legacy engagement is that it truly is in a league of its own – it holds the power to increase giving and support from donors both now and in the future – and it has a special role to play between your organization’s brand and its DRM program when it comes to marketing.   Legacy done right, with real investment and focus on understanding insights, building a proposition and investing in integrated fundraising, will improve donor experience across all of your programs, short and long-term.